Like a nightmare that they cannot wake from, Fulham fans find themselves in the depths of despair watching their beloved clubs sink into the abyss. Rooted to the bottom of the Championship with only one point in six games, Fulham look lost at sea with hope of turning the situation around disappearing over the horizon. At the helm of this sinking ship is manager Felix Magath, the German coach who arrived with so much promise but has failed to deliver. Relegation last season from the Premiership was met with distain from the fans but this season’s performances to date have the home crowd more concerned than ever before. Rooted to the bottom of the league with one point from their first six games and a negative goal difference of ten says it all. Fulham are in trouble but the men in charge do not want to admit it.
According to Magath everyone is to blame apart from himself, the eccentric coach happier to pass the buck than to accept his own failures. So far he has blamed the former owner Mohamed Al Fayed for not financially backing the club during his tenure, a claim Al Fayed calls absurd. He has blamed former coaches Martin Jol and Rene Meulensteen for destabilizing the team by altering their tactics week in week out and creating an ageing, ineffective squad. He has also strangely blamed the players for lacking conviction and desire to win. Finally two days ago blamed the officials for his side’s 3-0 defeat to Reading stating it was an impossible game to win after the referee sent off Matt Smith for a dangerous and reckless challenge, despite admitting that the player deserved to be dismissed. Magath is delusional to think that the blame lies elsewhere and not firmly at his feet. Since taking over he has fielded 54 players and rotated formations more times than he has changed his match day suit.
In the summer he transformed the squad, letting 26 players leave with 14 arriving. Magath claimed in doing so he removed the dead wood, allowed better players to arrive and gave him the ability to promote youth players into the first team. Whilst several youngsters have been added to the roster, it has been out of necessity rather than in an effort to promote youth development. Magath may have cleared house in the summer but in doing so he let a lot of good players leave, ones who could have helped Fulham back into the Premiership. Steve Sidwell, Kieron Richardson, John Heitinga, Brede Hangeland, Maarten Stekelenburg, Pajtim Kasami and Sascha Reither were all allowed to depart with no well known arrivals (with the exception of Ross McCormick) brought in. Added into this, his dislike of Konstantinos Mitroglou from day one has made it impossible for the Greek front man to remain at the club but without a buyer for the £12 million striker, he has had to depart on a season long loan to Olympiacos in order to get first team action. How this all has improved the squad is unknown but in Magath’s eyes Fulham are better for it. If this was the case then Fulham would be further up the table, challenging for promotion rather than propping it up. In truth, Magath may have underestimated how tough it is to get out of the Championship with other sides in the league looking far stronger than the London club. Unless changes are made, Fulham fans could be in for another very long and painful season.
Only one man can rescue the situation and that is owner Shahid Khan. However the Pakistani-American billionaire appears to be more focused on his other sports franchise, the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars to pay attention to the situation developing at Craven Cottage. His absence at the club since its relegation has been felt by the fans with some believing he has lost interest in his new play thing. Or perhaps he is simply unsure what he needs to do given that relegation is not something that happens in American Football. Regardless Khan must step in to end the madness and his first act must be to fire Magath. The German has been a failure and must leave with a new coach with experience brought in to turn things around. For Magath the question will be where next given the amount of bridges he has burned over the years. Having managed seven different clubs in his homeland, no club back home will touch him as he has poisoned the water with his antics. The blame culture that he spreads has taken its toll with few clubs willing to put up with the aggressive and ruthless manager. Maybe a spell away from the game may be the best thing for Magath at this junction, giving him the time to reflect and realize that perhaps nobody else is to blame for his failures other than himself.