Felix Magath slams Lewis Holtby loan move after claiming 'he is not a fighter' and feels he was too soft on players after Fulham were relegated

Holtby joined the Cottagers on loan from Tottenham in January but was unable to save Fulham from relegation to the Championship

Fulham manager Felix Magath has slammed midfielder Lewis Holtby, insisting the Tottenham loanee is not a fighter and made the wrong move in joining the Cottagers.

Relegation from the Barclays Premier League was sealed after a 4-1 defeat at Stoke last weekend and Magath's side may finish the campaign bottom of the table if they fail to beat Crystal Palace on Sunday.

The club signed seven players in January to improve their position in the table, including Holtby, who was expected to add creativity and energy to Fulham's survival bid.

Magath sent the 23-year-old out on loan twice when they previously worked together at Schalke and the pair have again failed to gel at Craven Cottage.

Holtby has scored just once in 13 appearances and in his last two games the midfielder has been substituted after 34 minutes at Stoke and at half-time against Hull.

"Lewis is a very skilful and a nice player but he is not a fighter - I think it was not the right move for him," Magath said.

"I think he has put too much pressure on himself.

"Against Hull it was not him who was playing and against Stoke it was even worse.

 

Magath added: "It was too early, he came here for a chance to go to the World Cup but after a few weeks it was clear it wasn't working.

"It was not the right decision for him."

Magath, who arrived in February with a reputation as a tough task master, admits he may have been too soft on his players since taking charge.

"The players told me they cannot fight, I don't know why," he said.

"They cannot fight, they haven't learned it."

Magath continued: "Have I been too soft on them? Maybe.

"At the end of the day you can't find one reason and blame that for relegation.

"I didn't take on something that could be cured easily, we were bottom of the table and things were very messed up."

Magath is determined to put faith in Fulham's talented crop of youngsters as he looks to build a new team ready for the Championship.

The average age of his starting XI against Stoke last weekend was 29 while there were seven Fulham players aged 30 or older.

Magath insists age is not his only consideration however - he wants players who feel an affinity with Fulham.

"We want to keep players here but for me it is very important the player feels an identification with the club and with the team - that is what we have to build up," he said.

"If there are players who think there is a better club for them and if they want to go they can leave, they just have to find us a club who is ready to buy him.

"We only want to take care of players who identify with Fulham and that is going to be the basis of our team for the future."

PA

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