Updates from Thursday, Feb. 20
Fulham has provided a statement from Felix Magath:
FM: "We are in a very serious situation but I'm sure that we can avoid relegation with this team. We have a good atmosphere at the Club."— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) February 20, 2014
FM: "You can smell the history here. It feels like coming home. I'm very, very glad to be here. I want to stay here for years." #ffc— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) February 20, 2014
With Fulham struggling at the bottom of the EPL table and in grave danger of being relegated, the club decided to make a significant change on Friday, by hiring Felix Magath as their new manager, according to the team's official website.
Magath's hiring also spelled the end of Rene Meulensteen's short stint at Craven Cottage as the embattled manager was fired, per Sky Sports News:
Fulham sack head coach Rene Meulensteen #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) February 14, 2014
Fulham later confirmed the move:
However, The Independent's Sam Wallace reports that Meulensteen has merely changed roles with the club:
Eurosport provides Meulensteen's thoughts:
While changing Meulensteen's title likely won't upset Fulham fans considering how disastrous the 2013-14 season has been, there is some question regarding the logic behind replacing him with Magath.
Associated Press reporter Rob Harris added why Fulham fans shouldn't be surprised by this recent move:
The 60-year-old Magath is a veteran manager of the German Bundesliga, but he has been unable to stick with one club for more than four years at a time. Paralympics director of media and communications Craig Spence believes that means the relationship between Magath and Fulham is bound to fail:
Good luck Fulham fans, Felix Magath has been sacked by nearly every Bundesliga club which tells you pretty much all you need to know.— Craig Spence (@craigspence) February 14, 2014
Fulham owner Shahid Khan does not share Spence's point of view, however, as he expressed a great deal of optimism in terms of Magath turning around his moribund club, according to Fulham's official press release.
I am very happy to welcome Felix Magath to Fulham Football Club. Felix is an accomplished manager with multiple honors in the Bundesliga and a hunger to replicate his success with Fulham in the Barclays 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. Felix knows that is precisely the task awaiting him at Fulham, and he made it abundantly clear that he wants and is ready for the opportunity.
Despite Fulham's awful record, they have shown signs of life recently with a one-goal loss to Liverpool and a draw against Manchester United in their past two contests. Perhaps the arrival of a well-known manager like Magath can help change the culture.
Fulham chief executive officer Alistair Mackintosh is expecting that to be the case, per the press release.
The opportunity to bring in a manager with the experience of Felix Magath would typically be unlikely at this point in the season. However, Felix relishes this challenge. He is very impressed with our squad and commitment by Mr. Khan, and his confidence is precisely what we need over these final three months of the season. I thank Mr. Khan for his support and we are all looking forward to welcoming Felix to Fulham.
With 12 matches left to be played, there is still plenty of time for a Fulham turnaround. They are four points out of escaping the relegation zone, and getting to that point is absolutely an attainable goal.
It remains to be seen how good of a fit Magath will be over the long haul, but there is little doubt that a spark was needed in the interim, and Magath may be just the man to provide it.
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