x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Coach Tigana is feeling the heat at Bordeaux

Jean Tigana has not got things going as he would like since taking over as coach at the club this season.

Jean Tigana, right, was a great midfielder for France, but the Bordeaux head coach's managerial skills are coming under fire.
Jean Tigana, right, was a great midfielder for France, but the Bordeaux head coach's managerial skills are coming under fire.

A couple of days after Bordeaux had been knocked out of the French Cup by second division Angers last month, their head coach Jean Tigana felt the need to remind reporters, and perhaps the club's supporters, of his credentials.

"I have had awards as the best coach in England, in France, and in Turkey," he said as his side prepare to visit Lyon tomorrow night.

That Tigana should need to brandish his CV can be taken as a sign of the deflated hopes around his first six months in charge of the 2009 French champions.

Tigana, after a three-year absence from management and more than a decade away from club football in Ligue 1, returned amid high local expectations last summer to a club where he was guaranteed backing.

It was with Bordeaux that Tigana played his best football in the 1980s, there that he won three championnats and two French Cups and most of his 52 caps for France.

Tigana, now 55, was a footballer ahead of his time. The midfield in which he played for Les Bleus was celebrated in much the way Spain's midfield of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso is lauded now, for its mastery of possession and imagination.

Tigana, Michel Platini and Alain Giresse were the key co-ordinates in the so-called "Magic Square" around which France's 1984 European Championship triumph would be constructed.

Tigana, born in Mali and brought up in a rough part of Marseilles, had come to the professional game relatively late after working as a postman.

Being black, he was also an important pathfinder, ushering in an era of French national sides drawing more and more on sportsmen with African and Caribbean backgrounds.

Lyon, where he had also played, gave him his first senior coaching job, when he was 38, and he took them to second place in the French championship. His next job, with Monaco, was even more successful. There he won the 1997 league title, and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.

His next move was unexpected. He joined Fulham, then of the second-tier of English football but funded generously by Mohamed al Fayed, the Egyptian billionaire. Tigana took Fulham into the Premier League before falling out with al Fayed. By this stage he was regularly being touted for the French national team. He never took that role, instead going to Besiktas - he won the Turkish Cup there - and in between jobs attending to his business interests which include vineyards in France.

Certainly, Ligue 1 would have seemed greatly altered in the 11 years since he left Monaco. His old club Lyon dominated the first eight years of the new millennium, before Bordeaux, under Laurent Blanc, now coach of France, broke their stranglehold and then Marseille, where Tigana also played, took last season's title.

Currently Lille lead the race for a championship which has assumed a fluid character. Bordeaux fans know that only too well. A year ago, they were top of the league, and eight points clear. They finished last season sixth.

Tigana was asked to arrest that slump, and to do so without Marouane Chamakh, the striker who joined Arsenal in the summer, and Yoann Gourcuff, the playmaker who went to Lyon.

Tigana hopes that after last weekend's 2-0 win over Nice - the first league victory since November - "we can show against Lyon that was real progress".



ITALY: No worries for Totti

Francesco Totti is not worried about Roma’s championship chances despite them being nine points off Serie A leaders AC Milan.

The Rome side have a crucial game tomorrow with Inter Milan, the defending champions, knowing they cannot afford to drop any further behind Milan if they are to lift the title.

“There’s still a long way to go in the championship and my goals will come,” said Totti, the club captain, whose own form has been disappointing with only three goals in the campaign.

“It’s a vital match, if we get a result on Sunday we’ll be able to remain hot on AC Milan’s heels, even though right now we’re nine points back with a game in hand.”

Also tomorrow, Milan are in action at Genoa as they look to extend their five-point lead over second-placed Napoli.

GERMANY:  Robben an injury doubt

Bayern Munich are waiting to see if Dutch winger Arjen Robben recovers from a heavy cold in time to face Bundesliga strugglers Cologne today.

Robben has been in stellar form for the defending champions recently, scoring three goals in the past four games. Robben, 26, sat out training on Thursday and a decision on whether he plays in Cologne will be made close to kick-off.

Meanwhile, Cologne have had an appeal rejected over a failed last-minute transfer which was scuppered by a temperamental fax machine.

Cologne launched the appeal after managing to fax the transfer request for Hamburg’s Cameroonian Eric-Maxime Choupo-Moting to German league authorities 12 minutes after the deadline of 6pm on Monday.

Cologne had twice tried to fax the relevant documents before the deadline, to no avail. But the league refused to sanction the transfer, saying deals have to be done by the deadline.

SPAIN: Barcelona told to focus

Javier Mascherano has warned his Barcelona teammates that, despite their excellent form, they cannot afford to let their guard down if they want to win a third consecutive La Liga title.

The Primera Liga leaders lead the title race by seven points, are in the Copa del Rey final, where they will meet Real Madrid, and are in the last 16 of the Champions League, where they will meet Arsenal.

But Mascherano, who has only been a bit part player for the defending champions this season in midfield since signing from Liverpool, said: “We are not machines but humans and any weekend we can lose although I am not concerned at the moment because I do not see signs of relaxation, in fact quite the opposite.”

Ahead of tonight’s clash with Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou, he added:  “Atletico are a strong side and we will take nothing for granted.”

HOLLAND: PSV after No 10

PSV Eindhoven will be looking for their 10th home win of the season today when they play host to ADO Den Haag.

The Eredivisie leaders have been formidable in front of their fans at the Philips Stadium, winning nine of their 11 games and scoring 40 goals, including a 10-0 success over Feyenoord.

But despite their fine form on home turf they are only one point clear of Twente in the league table and need the three points today to ensure they keep top spot.

Seventh-placed ADO, though, are chasing European qualification and have won their last three games, including a 5-1 hammering of Excelsior last time out.

PSV should also be boosted by the return of Marcelo, the Brazilian defender, who trained yesterday after recovering from a knee injury. Tomorrow, Groningen have a good chance to move up, facing last-place Willem II.