FULHAM took dramatic action Friday in a bid to preserve their Premier League status by sacking Rene Meulensteen and bringing in Felix Magath as their new manager with just 12 games of the season left.
Former Manchester United head coach Meulensteen had been in charge of the Cottagers for little more than two months after being promoted from within the west London club’s backroom staff to replace fellow-Dutchman Martin Jol on December 1.
However, Wednesday’s 3-2 home defeat by Liverpool — where Fulham twice took the lead before losing out to Steven Gerrard’s stoppage-time penalty — left the Cottagers four points adrift of safety.
And that was enough to persuade Fulham owner Shahid Khan, a Pakistan-born US-based businessman, to sack Meulensteen.
It was the second time this season Meulensteen had been dismissed after he was fired just 16 days into his time in charge of Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in August.
Fulham’s official statement on Magath made no mention of Meulensteen but their former manager, confirming his departure, accused the Cottagers of “freaking out” and “hitting the panic button on the emotions of fear”.
German manager Magath led Bayern Munich to successive Bundesliga titles in 2005 and 2006, before achieving the same feat with Wolfsburg, whom he left in 2012.
“I am very happy to welcome Felix Magath to Fulham Football Club,” Khan told Fulham’s website.
“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.
“Our club has shown promise in recent matches, but the fact is we have not won a league match since January 1.