Friday 1 February 2002

Jean Tigana's first season in English football's top flight has not lived up to his high standards but it has convinced him he could not return to management in his native France.

Tigana's hopes of a European place look beyond Fulham at present - Wednesday's 1-0 defeat at Ipswich left them 10th, as close to relegation as they are to European qualification - but the Frenchman's experiences in England have dulled any desire to coach again in France.

"The atmosphere in England is incredible. In France it is different. Arsene Wenger said to me 'if you come here to work it is not possible to go back to work in France'. I agree with that. England is very exciting.

"In France, nobody understands why I signed here. I've had so many proposals from big clubs in Europe. When I arrived here at Craven Cottage I don't know why but I said 'yes, this is my new club'."

He may not be keen on returning home to work but if things go off the rails with Fulham he will not remain in England, either.

"I work with my feelings all the time. If I am not happy, I leave," Tigana said. "I am happy here now but if one day I'm not happy I take my bag and leave. Go back to my country. It's my philosophy.

"I don't like to shout if I'm not happy. You take your bag and leave. The priority is the respect around me. I want the players and the people to progress - then I am very happy."

The 46-year-old added: "I think business is very important in English football but for me, it's my heart that's first. If another club gives me double my salary I still don't want to leave. I lost my father last year, but he had said to me: 'If you can eat breakfast in the morning, then lunch and dinner you don't need more, more, more'.

"That is my philosophy. I don't understand leaving somewhere to get more money. Money is not my motivation."

Tigana's father died last summer when Fulham's pre-season training was in full swing and the manager made frequent trips back to France.

But such is the commitment to his "vision" that he made sure it caused no disruption to the team's preparations.

When he joined the club 18 months ago, Tigana said that Craven Cottage and the Motspur Park training ground would be his homes and this has not changed. So far the training ground has been updated, a new 30,000-seater stadium is on its way and the Frenchman has made considerable progress with the players from youth level up.

His tough, hard- working approach to the game probably stems from his up-bringing.

Tigana said: "I am from a bad area in Marseilles. Very bad. No money, nothing. I am one of 10 children and my mother and father had a very small flat."

Tigana's side can take a step towards achieving his European aim tomorrow when they play Aston Villa at Craven Cottage.

They will be without midfielders Sean Davis (broken nose), Lee Clark (Achilles) and Luis Boa Morte (ankle).

A longer interview with Jean Tigana is available in the latest edition of Fulham's quarterly magazine, Fultime.