Fulham farce as Rene Meulensteen is cast aside for ‘saviour’ Felix Magath

Bottom club appoint ‘The Fireman’ in effort to avoid drop after Dutch coach lasts just 13 games

Chief Football Correspondent

The situation at Fulham descended into farce tonight when head coach Rene Meulensteen claimed he had been sacked - despite the fact he remains contracted to the club - after Felix Magath was brought in as 'first team manager' above him.

The Premier League's bottom-placed club made the decision to bring in Magath after Meulensteen earned just 10 points from 13 games having taken over as the head coach job following Martin Jol's sacking. However, as of tonight, there had been no agreement to terminate Meulensteen's contract.

The Dutch coach gave an interview to BBC Five Live in which he said he was 'very, very surprised and disappointed' with the decision. When asked why he was not mentioned in the Fulham statement announcing the arrival of Magath at the club, Meulensteen appeared confused as to what presenter Dan Walker was referring to.

In response to being told about the statement, Meulensteen said: 'It is what it is. You have been told they are bringing a new guy in and you are being released. What they put in the statement, I can't really care less.'

Felix Magath has replaced Rene Meulensteen as Fulham manager Felix Magath has replaced Rene Meulensteen as Fulham manager In the long term, Fulham expect that they will come to an agreement with Meulensteen over a severance package, unless he expresses a desire to stay at the club - which is considered unlikely.

Asked how he learned that Magath was to be joining the club, Meulensteen again gave the impression he had been sacked. He said: 'I was told by [chief executive] Alistair Mackintosh. He was clear on the way forward and open. That's what happens in football - that's the problem with owners who don't really understand the Premier League.

'I have always felt I had all the support from [owner] Mr [Shad] Khan and a good and open dialogue and discussion with him. It was always a healthy one. In that respect the decision comes as a bit of a surprise.'

There have been no final decisions made on the futures of the recently appointed technical director Alan Curbishley or coach Ray Wilkins. They will be taken in collaboration with Magath. It has always been Meulensteen and Fulham's position that both Englishmen were brought in with the head coach's agreement.

The Independent understands that having originally backed Meulensteen in the transfer window, the club felt that a record of one Premier League win since the turn of the year was simply not good enough. They believed his record was no better than that of Martin Jol, who he replaced on 4 December. An American contingent visited this week and the decision has been taken over the last two days.

In appointing Magath, Fulham had to see off competition from Hamburg, who also wanted to appoint him. Fulham see it as a coup that they beat Hamburg for Magath's signature, given his strong ties at the club he spent the majority of his playing career and won a European Cup. He is the Premier League's first German manager.

It is understood that Khan and Mackintosh felt that Magath was the right man to get an immediate response from the Fulham players. The 60-year-old, who has won three Bundesliga titles as a coach at Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg, is known in his native country as 'the fireman' for his ability to react in difficult situations and turn clubs around.

In the Five Live interview, Meulensteen said: 'I know the owners were freaking out and panicking that Fulham could get relegated. They had that sort of attitude already, ten games back. Everyone who has been in the Premier League understand that this [relegation battle] will go right to the wire.

'Yes, Fulham are bottom of the league but even if you are in tenth at the moment if you lose two games you are right back in it.'

Meulensteen lamented the fact that, like short-lived spells as manager of Brondby and then, more recently Anzhi Makhachkala, he had been he had been faced with a challenge in which he had to 'clear up the mess myself before I could start building my own team'.

He said: 'They have hit the panic button of emotion and fear. But hey-ho that's what happens in football. It's not always fair.'

In a statement Khan praised a 'wonderful job' by Mackintosh in the transfer window, in which Fulham signed seven new players on permanent and loan deals, and said that 'action was required' to save the club. There was no mention of Meulensteen. in statements from Mackintosh or Khan.

Khan said that Magath, who has signed an 18-month contract, has 'a reputation ... for coming into clubs at difficult times, often late in the season, and lifting them to their potential and beyond.' He added: 'Felix knows that is precisely the task awaiting him at Fulham, and he made it abundantly clear that he wants and is ready for the opportunity.

'Our club has shown promise in recent matches, but the fact is we have not won a league match since 1 January. Given our form, we can no longer merely hope that our fortunes will finally turn. And with 12 matches remaining and at least four points separating us from safety, we certainly can no longer post empty results. Action was required.'

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments