Fulham sack Rene Meulensteen after 75 days

Cottagers have appointed former Bayern Munich manager Felix Magath

Rene Meulensteen has been sacked by Fulham and replaced by former Bayern Munich coach Felix Magath. Photograph: John Walton/PA Wire

Rene Meulensteen has been sacked by Fulham and replaced by former Bayern Munich coach Felix Magath. Photograph: John Walton/PA Wire

Fri, Feb 14, 2014, 20:26

Fulham have sacked Rene Meulensteen after only 75 days in charge and appointed the former Bayern Munich coach Felix Magath as first team manager.

Magath, who has won three Bundesliga titles, two with Bayern and his most recent with Wolfsburg in 2009, takes over a side who are bottom of the Premier League. Fulham’s most recent victory in the league came on New Year’s Day and their 3-2 home defeat by Liverpool last Wednesday left them four points adrift of 17th-placed West Ham.

The 60-year-old Magath, a renowned disciplinarian, has signed an 18-month contract. He has been out of management since he left Wolfsburg in October 2012 and had been strongly linked with the Hamburg job this month.

Meulensteen’s two-and-a-half-month spell at Fulham follows a 16-day period in charge of Anzhi Makhachkala. The Dutchman is a highly regarded coach but has shown no evidence that he is cut out for top-level management and Fulham have acted swiftly in sacking a second manager this season. Meulensteen stepped up from head coach after Martin Jol’s reign was brought to an end. No mention was made of Meulensteen in a statement issued by Fulham to confirm Magath’s appointment but he confirmed on Radio 5 Live that he had been relieved of his duties.

A dismayed Meulensteen said Fulham had pushed the panic button. “They were very scared of being relegated and they made the decision,” he said. He revealed that the chief executive, Alistair Mackintosh, had told him the news and that he had not heard from the chairman, Shahid Khan. He added that he was unaware of whether Alan Curbishley, the first team technical director, or Ray Wilkins, the assistant head coach, would stay.

Khan’s statement focused on the new manager. “I am very happy to welcome Felix Magath to Fulham Football Club,” he said. “Felix is an accomplished manager with multiple honours 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.

“Our club has shown promise in recent matches but the fact is we have not won a league match since 1 January. Given our form, we can no longer merely hope that our fortunes will finally turn. And with 12 matches remaining and at least four points separating us from safety, we certainly can no longer post empty results. Action was required.

“Alistair Mackintosh [chief executive] did a wonderful job during the January transfer window to improve our club. This week Alistair recommended Felix, with his history of producing results for clubs with similar challenges as ours, as the new manager of Fulham. Alistair’s recommendation received my complete approval and Felix has my unequivocal support.”

Mackintosh said: “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.”

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