The Premier League’s bottom club Fulham have decided to replace Dutch boss Rene Meulensteen with veteran German boss Felix Magath.
The move is a shock one considering that Meulensteen only took over from compatriot Martin Jol in December.
The ironic thing is that Fulham have produced two of their best performances of the season in their last two games against Manchester United and Liverpool.
Fulham have showed real promise in their last-gasp 2-2 draw at Old Trafford and the very unlucky 3-2 home defeat to Liverpool. The team were starting to look like they could have a chance to get out of the relegation mire.
Meulensteen himself has stated that the Fulham owners have panicked and that is exactly right. The team have not been great under the rookie Dutchman, but he did seem to be getting it right in his last two games in charge of the team anyway.
Now Fulham have to start all over again with a new man at the helm, which at this stage of the season will be very difficult. A new manager needs time to get to know his players and the new man will not get much time.
The Fulham hierarchy have decided that former-Wolfsburg boss Felix Magath is the right man for the job. Magath has a good reputation in German football and won silverware with the likes of Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg.
Magath has been given an 18-month contract at Craven Cottage. The experienced boss last job was with Wolfsburg in season 2012/13.
Fulham chairman Shahid Khan confirmed Magath’s appointment by saying: “I am very happy to welcome Felix Magath to Fulham Football Club.
“Felix is an accomplished manager with multiple honours in the Bundesliga and a hunger to replicate his success with Fulham in the Premier League. I’m especially impressed with the reputation Felix has for coming into clubs at difficult times, often late in the season, and lifting them to their potential and beyond”.
Magath does have something of a fire-fighter reputation in Germany. He is a boss that has saved a number of clubs from relegation in his homeland and the Cottagers need somebody to save them right now. The 60-year-old helped the likes of Nurnberg, Werder Bremen and Eintract Frankfurt to avoid relegation.
In fact Magath took Nurnberg from the relegation places in the second tier to promotion to Bundesliga, before moving on to Werder and Frankfurt.
He then then took over Stuttgart and managed them to safety, before enjoying a mid-table finish and even finishing as Bundesliga runners-up in 2002/03. Magath then moved to Bayern Munich, where he completed the double of Bundesliga and German cup in consecutive seasons.
Magath was sacked in January 2007. He moved to Wolfsburg May 2007 and in 2009 guided the club to their first and only ever Bundesliga title. Magath left for Schalke in the summer of 2009, where they finished as runners-up in his first season in charge, he was sacked in his second after a series of poor results.
Magath made an almost immediate return to football at relegation-threatened Wolfsburg and again saved the club from relegation to the German second tier. His second season saw the Wolves finish in mid-table and he left by mutual consent in October 2012 after a poor start to the campaign.
Felix Magath is known to be a strict disciplinarian with tough training methods the key to his success. The hard work pays off in the short term and his methods usually lift a team, but his methods have been questioned by many and some have accused the veteran boss of only being able to bring short-term success and not being able to maintain it in the long-term.
One thing is for sure, the Fulham players will be working hard from now until the end of the season. If the Cottagers go down, then it will not be for the lack of hard work with Magath in charge.
Magath may not be the worse choice in the world to attempt to keep Fulham in the Premier League, but what concerns me is the timing of his appointment. It seems a very strange decision to give Meulensteen the job in December and then sack him in February.
Everybody knew it would take Meulensteen time to find his managerial feet, because he was a rookie manager. The Dutchman had very little experience of being a number one and was going to need time, yet the Cottagers still replaced experienced compatriot Martin Jol with the inexperienced former-Manchester United coach.
Fulham are currently deep in the relegation mire. The Cottagers are currently bottom of the table and four points away from safety. The Cottagers are current favourites to be relegated at 4/7 and it is hard to argue with the bookmakers on this one.
If Fulham do survive the drop then it will be another great escape to add to Felix Magath’s CV. The veteran German coach has form with these sorts of situations. However, he has not managed outside his native homeland and his appointment may just be too little too late for Fulham.
Can Felix Magath rescue Fulham from relegation this season?