Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fulham Benefit as Tigana Gives French Talent a Chance to Shine

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fulham Benefit as Tigana Gives French Talent a Chance to Shine

Article excerpt

Byline: LEO SPALL

IF THE French Football Federation were ever to designate a finishing school for their disaffected young players, it would surely be at Fulham's Craven Cottage.

Frenchman Jean Tigana built up a formidable reputation for developing talent at Monaco and Fulham are now enjoying the benefits of his skills.

Tigana paid Metz [pound]2.1 million for Louis Saha and transformed him from a bit-part striker in the French league into the leading scorer in England's First Division with 32 goals in just one season.

On Sunday, the 23-year-old forward netted twice at Manchester United and was helped by a player set to become the second graduate from Tigana's French school at Fulham, Steed Malbranque.

The midfielder - a [pound]4.5m buy from Lyon last month - supplied the precise through-ball for Saha's second goal and the way he tried a series of tricks and flicks showed he was not overawed on his Premiership debut at the home of the champions.

Malbranque, 21, will probably start against Sunderland at Craven Cottage tonight and will provide Lee Clark with stiff competition for a place when he recovers from an Achilles injury.

The France Under-21 international said: "My coach at Lyon promised me I was going to play all the time last season, but that did not turn out to be the case and I felt I needed a new start.

"I had other offers in France and abroad but I was keen to play in England, especially for a team which had a French coach and players.

"I was in the youth academy at Lyon when Jean Tigana was manager there and I worked under Christian Damiano (Fulham's assistant manager) for two years with the French Under-18 team.

"They convinced me to come to Fulham and my early impressions have been very positive. It will take a few games to settle but everything is going well so far."

Malbranque is seen at Fulham as an attacking midfielder in the mould of Chelsea's Gianfranco Zola. …

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