Fulham 1 Chelsea 3: The Long Bad Saturday for Bob Hoskins’ team

The Calvin Report

Fulham decided to dispense with the usual introductory fanfare for Felix Magath. Since managers at Craven Cottage tend to be as disposable as plastic cutlery, there seemed little point in making a fuss about his first home match in charge. For Fulham fans, the outcome was then tiresomely familiar.

Germany’s first Premier League manager, who resembles a bespectacled and faintly bemused version of Bob Hoskins, was recognised by a minority in the Riverside Stand, who were rewarded by a bashful wave as he walked across the pitch from the dressing room.

The response when Magath returned, at the end of an attritional match in which both teams conformed to stereotype, was muted. The fact he had been overshadowed by a compatriot, Andre Schürrle, was merely fate playing a typically unkind trick.  This is football’s forgotten derby, the Premier League’s equivalent of a bake-off between rival women’s institutes. It is all a little polite and prosaic and none the worse for that. Theatrical conflict has long since lost its novelty value.

The walk through the park and along the towpath to the old ground is a timeless ritual. Schoolgirls were selling cupcakes for charity in the spring sunshine; skateboaders represented the biggest threat to life and limb. The closest we got to a confrontational attitude was the playing of Elvis Costello’s “I don’t want to go to Chelsea” over the public address system.

If Jose Mourinho was sleepless in suburbia, Magath had to be wide awake and fully functioning. He has only 10 more matches in which to save Fulham and protect the remnants of his reputation.

Mourinho hailed him as “The Man” but the lack of respect he has encountered  here is puzzling, given his pedigree as a player and as a coach who has won three Bundesliga titles.

He has a history of getting results quickly, largely through his faith in a work ethic which would be more recognisable on the opposite bank of the Thames from Craven Cottage, in the boathouses from which elite rowers emerge to do battle on the tideway. 

Das Boot camp has yet to turn his players into hollow-cheeked, dead-eyed automatons, but the remorseless of Magath’s training regime is having an effect. Fulham pressed frantically, but once they fell behind they were too functional to respond effectively. The loss of their captain, Brede Hangeland, concussed in a collision with Kieran Richardson, served to expose Dan Burn, the young substitute.

“Magath has big experience,” said Mourinho, whose silence in the dressing room at half-time was uniquely eloquent. “He has no fear of the big situation. I imagine it will not be easy for him, but he has a lot to give his players.” The German has been scathing about his inheritance, a familiar ploy for any new manager, but one not without its merits. The decision to spend  a fee of £12 million on Kostas Mitroglou, the Olympiakos striker, was compromised by his omission from yesterday’s squad because he is unprepared for the intensity of the English game.

Magath has no duty of care to young or homegrown players. It remains to be seen whether, in the longer term, he uses the products of a well-regarded Academy, but his decision summarily to discard the former Manchester United youngsters, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Larnell Cole, after a solitary training session does not augur well.

Magath has only an 18-month contract, is a firefighter by instinct and seems unconcerned by the human wreckage which lies in his wake. Desperate situations call for desperate measures. Fulham last won on New Year’s Day and they have collected just two points in the intervening eight games. That is relegation form by any reckoning.

Shahid Khan, the owner, writing in the programme, admitted he is aware that his decision to dismiss Rene Meulensteen after only 75 days appears “unconventional, unpopular or both”.  He added: “I expected the scrutiny and know there will be more ahead. I accept this and welcome the responsibility, because the alternative was risking a non-stop slide in the table, in the hope that better results would occur in time to save our season.”

There are no overbearing cultural issues with a German manager. Fulham have, after all, used players of 21 different nationalities this season. They can run all day but their failure to defend adequately after the interval promises another arduous week on the training ground, before what looks like a pivotal visit to Cardiff next Saturday.

“I will remind them about defending every day,” said Magath. “I have seldom seen a goal like Chelsea’s first one. Schürrle was allowed to run without any contact. After we lost that goal we did not have the morale to come back. Our leader was not there.”

As he spoke, he played with his tea. The message on the label of his tea bag was rather poetic: “Everybody is alright really.” If only that was the case.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?