LONDON: Fulham are one of the favourites for promotion but Felix Magath & Co made a bad start to life in the second division with a 2:1 defeat at Ipswich. The sheer physicality of the match came as a shock to Magath.
A massive clear-out of players had followed last season’s relegation from the Premier League so Magath put out a side in which captain Scott Parker was joined by five academy graduates and five new signings, including £11m Scottish striker Ross McCormack.
Parker was the only survivor from the team who drew 2:2 with Crystal Palace when Fulham’s 13-year Premier stay came to an end last May.
One of the new youngsters, Finnish goalkeeper Jesse Joronen, made several fine saves but was beaten twice by Daryl Murphy (32min) and David McGoldrick (61) before Tim Hoogland’s late consolation.
Magath said: “A lot of our players are only just out of the academy and they are not used to being tackled in that way.”
Joronen has taken over from Holland’s Maarten Stekelenburg who has joined Monaco on loan after a disappointing year culminating in missing out on World Cup selection.
Magath was not sorry to see Stekelenburg go. He said: “He is a player who wants to leave and I’m not a manager who cares about players who don’t identify with the club. That was a problem last season. I told everybody you can stay here, you can work with me, I will work with you but if you don’t want to with me, please leave.”
Uwe Rosler’s Wigan, beaten in the promotion play-offs last season, rescued a disappointing 2:2 home draw against Reading with a last-minute goal from James McArthur.
The first sacking of the English league season, after one game, saw ex-Manchester United striker Mark Robins dismissed by Huddersfield after a 4-0 home defeat by initial second division leaders Bournemouth.