LONDON: So Felix Magath was proved wrong. Ever since he arrived as manager in January the Fulham manager had insisted that the west London club would escape relegation. Instead, not only are they going down but doing so with one round of matches to spare.
The coup de grace was a 4:1 defeat away to Mark Hughes’s Stoke in which Fulham – with Sascha Riether unused on the subs’ bench and Lewis Holtby injured after 34 minutes – put up a spineless performance.
Victory at home to Crystal Palace next Sunday would be irrelevant for the club who have used more players (46), conceded more goals (83) and employed more managers (Martin Jol, Rene Meulensteen and Magath) than anyone else.
Fulham held out for 39 minutes but then Stoke struck three times in 34 minutes through Peter Odemwingie, Marko Anautovic and Oussama Assaidi. Kieran Richardson pulled one back before Stoke substitute Jon Walters wrapped up the scoring and Fulham’s relegation.
Magath had said that saving Fulham would be the greatest achievement of his career and duly described failure as “the worst day of my life.”
He also cast significant blame on the club management and previous boss Meulensteen by saying: “For me the most disturbing decision was from the manager who took eight players in wintertime. At this time you should try to fit everything together but we could never have such a formation.”
Asked whether he would be in charge in the second division next season Magath insisted: “Yes, sure.”
However Fulham, for all sorts of reasons including economic ones, need a massive clear-out of personnel. Loanee Holtby, for example, will return to Tottenham and has been linked with a move on to Aston Villa.
Owner Shahid Khan may doubt whether, if Magath could not escape relegation, he is really the man to escape back out of the second division.