The sacking of Rene Meulensteen is something of a revelation. He was bought in as the man to get Fulham out of a tight situation, but has struggled to make the impact that he, the board, and the fans were looking for. Less than half a season and a fruitful transfer window passed, and recent games have looked promising for the Cottagers. The signings of Lewis Holtby and Konstantinos Mitroglou will help bolster their attacking options, where they have struggled. Holtby made an instant impact, giving a Man of the Match performance against Manchester United and doing the most running against Liverpool.
Meulensteen masterminded an effective performance against United and ran Liverpool very close at Craven Cottage. However, with 12 games left of the season and the appearance of relegation becoming a very clear reality, Shahid Khan has taken the brave, if not wreckless decision to replace United’s former no.2 with Felix Magath, a divisive figure who has spent the majority of his managerial career in Germany.
There is no doubting Magath’s experience. He has often guided clubs away from relegation, and has even had a spell at European giants Bayern München. He has won the Bundesliga 3 times, once with Wolfsburg and twice with Munich. However, these were times when German football was not as strong as it is now.
The main criticism of Magath is his odd tactics and management style. His most recent spells at Wolfsburg and Schalke have shown this. He refused to build the team around his best players, playing a rotated squad in unfamiliar positions. He also made strange decisions in the transfer window, buying far too many players and inflating a squad which he was then compelled to rotate.
His management style has also come under pressure from former players. Known to Schalke players as ‘Saddam’ after his last spell in charge, Magath employs an emotionally and physically demanding style onto his players. At Wolfsburg, he sent his players out to run in the woods, only for one player to collapse in exhaustion and Magath to empty out all the water bottles to show that they take the resources at the club for granted. There has also been reports of him calling players into his office, only for them to sit in silence for 10 minutes and then Magath asking them to leave. Fulham player Lewis Holtby was recently quoted as saying that he ‘survived’ Magath’s reign at Schalke.
There is no doubt that bringing in Magath shows courage from Khan. The question is, will it be a masterstroke, or will Fulham end up a laughing stock?