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
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
Voices
voicesI like surprises - that's why I'm bringing them back to politics, writes Nigel Farage
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
news

As anti-Semitic attacks rise, Grant Feller re-evaluates his identity

Arts and Entertainment
Adam Levine plays a butcher who obsessively stalks a woman in Maroon 5's 'Animals' music video
music'Animals' video 'promotes sexual violence against women'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

News
The moon observed in visible light, topography and the GRAIL gravity gradients
science

...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought

News
people
Life and Style
food and drink

Savoury patisserie is a thing now

News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
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

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?