Felix Magath, extreme training and the potential to make or break Fulham

With 12 games to go in the Premier League season, Fulham find themselves in 20th place and in real danger of playing second-tier football next season for the first time in 13 years.

Under new ownership, the Craven Cottage outfit replaced Martin Jol with René Meulensteen back in December, only to part company with the former Manchester United coach this week after 75 days.

The man to fill the Dutchman’s role is Felix Magath – a German coach that has been very successful in the Bundesliga but is renowned for his extreme training methods.

The 60-year-old has an impressive footballing CV in his homeland, winning three Bundesliga titles over the space of his managerial career.

After excelling with Stuttgart and leading the side from potential relegation fodder to a team fighting for honours over the space of three years, Magath took over at Bayern Munich in 2004.

The head coach led the Bavarian powerhouses to successive league and cup doubles in a period of dominance for the Allianz Arena outfit.

He went on to manage both Schalke and Wolfsburg twice, winning an unlikely club first-ever Bundesliga title with the latter in 2008-09.

However, Magath has not worked since being sacked by Wolfsburg in his second period with the club back in October 2012.

Felix MagathOn first sight the German seems like an ideal solution to the problems at Craven Cottage, as the experienced coach has led a number of sides out of relegation danger in the past.

However, Magath has a reputation for eccentric methods and is well known in Germany for the excessive emphasis on fitness and conditioning he has placed on his players at former clubs.

Bayern Munich director Uli Hoeneß has this week labeled Magath as paranoid and a control freak, while also stating that he pushes his players “to a ridiculous stage – well over the edge.”

Magath is thought to have been an unpopular character at former clubs regardless of success gained on the pitch, with players struggling with his demands on the training paddock.

In a well-documented example, while at Wolfsburg Magath pushed his players to walk to the top of a mountain in the Austrian Alps in a day off in 2008 pre-season, with key striker Grafite collapsing due to exhaustion as a result.

Magath is also known for his excessive work in the transfer market, with previous successes being achieved through the acquisition of new players at great expense.

In Fulham’s current situation it is difficult to gauge whether or not the new man in the answer in their battle to stay in the Premier League.

Although only four points from safety currently, it was clear to see that the Cottagers had not progressed under Meulensteen, with the side’s average points per game no better under the Dutchman than it was in Jol’s tenure.

Magath will not be given money to spend in Fulham’s fight for survival as the transfer window is closed, while fitness does not seem to the stem of the team’s underwhelming showings his season.

An extrovert character, Hoeneß has stated that Magath would never work in Germany again due to his extreme methods. The gamble that Shahid Khan and the Fulham powers that be have taken seems considerable, with this manager of notoriety sure to ruffle a few feathers at the relegation-threatened outfit.

I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City.I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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