Magath blames players’ lack of fight for Fulham’s relegation from Premier League
STOKE-ON-TRENT // Fulham manager Felix Magath accused his players of lacking the fight to survive after his club’s 13-year stay in the Premier League came to an end with a 4-1 defeat at Stoke City on Saturday.
Goals from Peter Odemwingie, Marko Arnautovic, Oussama Assaidi and Jonathan Walters – combined with Sunderland’s shock win at Old Trafford – consigned Fulham to the drop.
Kieran Richardson’s late consolation came too late to save the 60-year-old Magath from experiencing the first relegation of his long, nine-club managerial career.
Magath said: “As you can imagine, that is one of the worst days I have ever had. I was convinced before the game that we had a very good chance, but today was what you would call in Germany a blackout.
“There was no fighting spirit there. I think they felt too much pressure – we cannot run, we cannot pass, we cannot play and we have never been in the game.
“Everybody is down on the bottom and there are some tears, but I have to take the responsibility and I apologise not only for today but for not managing the situation because I was convinced we would stay in the league.”
Fulham’s dismal display was encapsulated by Magath’s decision to haul off Lewis Holtby in the 34th minute, with the Fulham manager reiterating a belief he first aired after the loss to Chelsea in March that the midfielder lacks the stomach for battle.
Magath said: “I think [Holtby] is very skilful, but he doesn’t get any of the ball or fight. There was nothing for him today.”
The coach said he was ready to commit himself to trying to haul the club straight back to the top flight next season and would seek immediate talks with owner Shahid Khan. Asked if he wanted to stay, Magath answered: “Yes, sure. We have to talk about the situation. It is one of the worst days I have ever had, but I will go on. I will talk about the situation with the owner and we will start to come back.”
Stoke’s Mark Hughes, a former Fulham manager, expressed some sympathy for his old club after consigning them to the drop. Hughes spent less than 11 months in charge of the club before resigning in June 2011, saying that he needed a new challenge.
Hughes said: “I’ve seen a number of people who worked very hard for me when I was at Fulham and obviously they’re very upset at the moment. You don’t like to see people you’ve worked with go through that, but it’s an unforgiving league and you have to get the job done, which we have and they haven’t.
“There are a lot of good people there and a lot of good support staff who helped me, so I hope they bounce back quickly.”
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Published: May 4, 2014 04:00 AM