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Monday, 17 February 2014

Who is Magath and can he save Fulham?

After just 75 days in the job, Fulham sacked Rene Meulensteen on Valentines Day and replaced him  with experienced German coach Felix Magath, who becomes the first German to manage in the Premier League.

Magath, was an attacking midfielder who played for for Hamburg, helping them to win three Bundesliga titles, and also led them to success in the European Cup, scoring the only goal in a victory over Juventus in 1983. He also won 43 caps for West Germany, before a knee injury ended his career in 1986.

As a manager, Magath has had plenty of success. He did the league and cup double with Bayern Munich in both 2005 and 2006, but in was sacked in 2007 with the team in fourth place. It is reported that his relationship with his players had become strained over his focus on punishing fitness drills and his aloof and unapproachable attitude. 

In June that year he took over lowly Wolfsburg who were 15th in the Bundesliga, and took them to their first and, to date, only Bundesliga title, but was tempted away to join Schalke at the end of the season. In his first full season there he took them to second place in the league but was sacked the following season with the team in poor form.

He returned to Wolfsburg in March 2011 but was sacked with the team bottom of the Bundesliga the following October.

Magath has a reputation for being very strict and extremely focused on the physical fitness of his teams and it will be interesting to see just how Premiership players respond to him - it could well be a repeat of Di Canio at Sunderland! To quote from his Wikipedia entry "As a manager, Magath quickly gained respect and became notorious for his hard, grinding training methods, laying heavy emphasis on discipline, fitness and conditioning.He was once described by former Eintracht Frankfurt player Bachirou Salou as the "last dictator in Europe".

At present Fulham lie bottom of the Premier League, four points from safety and with by far the worst goal difference. They have 12 games left before the end of the season, so will the appointment of their third manager of the season result in a surge up the table, or a plunge into 
the Championship?

Their first big test will come this Saturday when they travel to West Bromwich Albion, who themselves are struggling, being just four points above Fulham, and only outside the relegation zone on goal difference. Looking at their fixtures in March, you would think that they need to get something out of that game to have any hope of avoiding the drop.

Apart from mid table Newcastle at home, they play Chelsea and Everton at home and Manchester City and fellow relegation strugglers Cardiff away. If they are able to gain a few points from those fixtures they may be able to avoid the drop as five of their remaining six games are all against teams in the bottom half of the table.

The bookmakers however do not give them much hope at the moment. Coral have them listed at 1/3 to be relegated and even money to finish bottom. The odds on them staying up are 9/4.
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