Fulham Football Club is now six months into the tenure of Felix Magath, the pragmatic German that took the reins of our cosy and warm football club following a short-lived stint by former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen. A lot has changed since Felix Magath was placed in charge by the Fulham management, a decision that came out of the blue on that February evening with Magath set the sole goal of staying within the Premier League; it was perhaps too late for Felix to save us completely, however, he did manage to garner somewhat of a fight out of a team that looked impossible to save; ultimately, Magath had failed and Fulham were relegated to the Championship.
However, relegation wasn’t the only change to Fulham since Magath’s appointment, even though it may have overshadowed most. This summer, the German has begun a monumental rebuild of the on-field personnel, so far letting go of 22 players for one reason or another, and bringing in 24 by either purchasing from another club, signing a free agent or promoting from within the academy that is beginning to pay dividends thanks to the hard work of Huw Jennings. The philosophy of our transfer window was revealed by Felix Magath in an open letter to the supporters:
“I felt that the squad was an ageing one that urgently needed to be freshened up with younger, hungrier and more ambitious players.”
With this amount of alteration in just one transfer window, it is inevitable that the new-look Fulham (no matter who the manager is) require a bedding in period. We have players that have come from other countries, other clubs and other age groups to create the heartbeat of our squad. To quote from Felix’s open letter again:
“I would like to stress, that our aim is to a develop a squad that can not only perform well and achieve our goal in the Championship, but can grow into a strong Premier League team with a future.”
A great sentiment, and looking at our recruitment process and how our squad is shaping up, I can see why he feels this way; we’ve seen the success of our best youg talent in the past few years, and now Felix Magath is giving them an opportunity to succeed at a higher level. Again, it’s inevitable that the volume of young players, mixed with the new faces, will need time to settle; not only to the system and style of play, but to step up of professional football too.
The quirky Felix is a man who, despite his controversy, has been a successful manager in Germany, winning three Bundesliga titles, two German cups and the Intertoto (he too won it one time). Would it not be a shame to waste a summer transfer window on Felix Magath if we were not going to give him the opportunity to succeed? With all the changes that have happened at Fulham, does he not deserve a chance to jumpstart our season once the squad is settled?
I take you back to 2011-12 when Reading under Brian McDermott had four points from their first six games – a sequence that included four successive defeats – as well as a loss in the League Cup. Those very same strugglers soared from 23rd, went on to win the Championship title, winning seventeen of their last 23 games in the process and their success goes to prove that a slow start in this division doesn’t necessarily equal failure. You cannot honestly say that we don’t have better players than Noel Hunt, Ian Harte and Kaspars Gorkss who all played over 40 games for the Royals that season?
As supporters, we need to show patience in our refreshed squad, and we need to support our young faces, as we know that dreams are possible. In our two games already, we’ve played some magnificent football using a squad of new signings, academy players and Scott Parker. If the performances continue, the results will surely follow. The football really has been impressive, and wouldn’t be nice as a football club to have a long term plan, and more importantly for the plan to pay off?
Felix Magath’s transfer window philosophy states quite clearly what our long term plan is, but for us to succeed, we will need stability. Over the past six months, Magath has rubbed a minority of supporters the wrong way, mostly from disagreement with his team selection, but wouldn’t it be nice if we had a manager in for the long haul? Remarkably you have to go back to the days of Bedford Jezzard to find a Fulham manager who was at the helm for more than four years. Jezzard was in charge at the club for six years, from 1958-64. The only Fulham managers to hit four years since that tenure were Alec Stock (1972-76), Bobby Campbell (1976-80), Malcolm MacDonald (1980-84), Ray Lewington (1986-90) and Chris Coleman (2003-07); the most successful managers in Fulham’s history, modern history anyway, Roy Hodgson and Jean Tigana only managed three years in charge.
Maybe we do have to suffer some more losses and a draw here and there in the next few months, but this patience and persistence could see us embark on greatness at Fulham, Felix Magath is the most decorated man to ever take charge of Fulham Football Club, and if he can have the time to gel this monster together, he surely can succeed. It will certainly be exciting to watch a new generation emerge at Craven Cottage.
I’d like to finish off this post with the final paragraph from Felix Magath’s open letter:
“This team requires from you, our supporters, patience, support and an understanding as to what we are trying to build here for the future of the Football Club. My work here as manager and that of my staff, is to bring to you a team which you can be proud of and get excited about. We are all in this together, please show us that you have trust and faith in us.”