Exit Tigana, enter a smaller future for Fulham

There is a symmetry to Jean Tigana's hiring and firing by Mohamed Al Fayed. Three years ago, the Frenchman accepted an offer that his friend and former international team-mate Michel Platini described as "impossible to refuse". On Tuesday, he declined one that Fayed knew he could never accept.

The Fulham chairman was well aware that Tigana is too proud to be forced to take a 40 per cent pay cut, particularly as the Frenchman was persuaded out of self-imposed retirement to take up the Fulham challenge in the summer of 2000. Tigana, who has plenty of other interests, including a vineyard and businesses in the south of France, was only ever prepared to do the job if the money was right.

This is not to say that Tigana does not take pride in his managerial work. Once he made the decision to swap the pleasures of Cassis for the rigours of the English First Division, the 46-year-old showed an unquestionable commitment to the cause.

Results followed, too, as Fulham won their first 11 games of the season on the way to the title. Since reaching the Premiership in May 2001, they have had an acceptable two years. Survival is no mean feat for a newly promoted club; nor are an FA Cup semi-final and a maiden Uefa Cup participation to be sneezed at. There are bigger clubs who would happily settle for such a record, and Tigana's successor – presumably an emerging British coach, such as the former Ipswich manager George Burley, who can work without spending any more of Fayed's money – has a tough act to follow.

The problem with Fulham has been their image. In the eyes of most, they have paid their way to the top table. But what of Middlesbrough or Sunderland, two clubs who have been equally free with their spending and yet have had no better results? Fulham have failed to set the Premier-ship alight, and some of Tigana's buys have been poor. Even in the inflated market of two years ago, Steve Marlet was never worth £11.5m. His transfer from Tigana's old club, Lyon, is now the subject of a Fifa investigation.

But not all Tigana's acquisitions have been questionable. Steed Malbranque was bought from Lyon for £4.5m and will be sold, probably as early as the summer, to Liverpool or perhaps Chelsea for at least double that. Meanwhile, Steve Finnan and Sean Davis have been brought through the Fulham ranks and could also leave for substantial fees.

Money has undoubtedly played a major part in Fulham's recent history. Tigana has spent big during his time in SW6 – £43m on more than 16 players – but then what manager wouldn't if he was given carte blanche by an over-ambitious chairman? Not Bryan Robson or Steve McClaren at Middlesbrough, and not Peter Reid at Sunderland or David O'Leary at Leeds. Like O'Leary, Tigana has been labelled as an irresponsible spender. But, like O'Leary, Tigana was not the one signing the cheques.

The Egyptian millionaire had a dream of making Fulham the "Manchester United of the South" and was prepared to stop at nothing to achieve his ambition. Stopping, though, was exactly what he should have done, to think about the implications of his spending strategy.

As one close friend of Tigana told me: "I believe the real reason why the chairman says he will no longer bankroll the club is simply that he can't. He [Fayed] was happy to put his hand in his pocket a few years ago because it suited him to bolster his image. But since 11 September, tourism is down in London and Harrods is suffering. The manager has been made the fall guy when it is the chairman who should be blamed."

The tycoon's decision to find a permanent residence in Geneva after losing a legal battle to retain his special tax status in Britain adds further to the impression that he might be looking to cut his losses.

If Tigana has to admit that he has underachieved on the pitch considering the budget at his disposal, then Fayed must shoulder the responsibility for the way the club's off-field affairs have been handled. Spending policy apart, it is the débâcle surrounding Craven Cottage that most confuses. Having originally promised supporters a redeveloped stadium for the beginning of the season after next, the Fulham hierarchy have since sold an option on the land to developers, searched for a different site for a new stadium, then changed their minds on both those decisions, before lately suggesting that they may simply return to the Cottage once it has been given a lick of paint and had extra seats bolted on to the existing stands.

If Fayed understood sporting egos, he would never have appointed Franco Baresi as director of football last year. Or he might at least have warned Tigana before the deal with the Italian was agreed. Baresi eventually left in November, but irreparable damage had been done. When Tigana leaves at the end of the season, Fayed may still be in Switzerland, but what ofFul-ham's once-lofty ambitions?

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?