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
Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?