Felix Magath tastes relegation but has stomach to rebuild Fulham

 

For a manager who has won three Bundesliga titles, the idea that Felix Magath might at 60 years of age embrace life in the English Championship is one that slightly stretches credibility.

Yet assuming Fulham agree that Magath remains a good fit for them and that no better offers are forthcoming – which is perhaps where a leap of faith is required – the former coach of Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg and others will remain to supervise a complete overhaul of the team condemned to relegation by Saturday's 4-1 defeat at Stoke.

Indeed, he already has plans to build a new Fulham around the team that takes a 3-2 lead into the second leg of the FA Youth Cup final against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday night, where Magath will be in the stands as youth coach Steve Wigley attempts to take the trophy to Craven Cottage for the first time.

Magath enjoyed his first major coaching success with a similar approach at Stuttgart in the Bundesliga, narrowly avoiding relegation in 2001 but finishing runners-up in 2003 after promoting players from the academy.

"I have always enjoyed watching the development of young players and I have always picked young players in my teams," he said.

"The first thing will be to see which academy players are ready to help next season. It is a good sign for the future that Fulham are in the FA Youth Cup final."

Magath would not be drawn over how many of the club's high-earning Premier League signings he would look to shed, although he was clear his accent would be on youth.

"It is too early to make any statements about moving forward without older players, but I came here to build a team – and to do that you need not only experienced players but young, fresh players," he said. "We have a lot of work to do this summer and I am prepared to do it."

Goals from Peter Odem-wingie, Marko Arnautovic, Oussama Assaidi and Jonathan Walters gave Stoke a scoreline that in no way flattered them as Fulham produced a tepid performance not worthy of a side in their predicament. Stoke need one point from their final fixture at West Bromwich Albion for their highest tally in the Premier League.

Magath, never before relegated, said he felt worse than when as a player he lost in the 1986 World Cup final with West Germany. "Being second in the world is not so bad," he said.

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