• Premier League

Meulensteen: Fulham have hit the panic button

ESPN staff
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Felix Magath has been given an 18-month deal to help Fulham keep their Premier League status © PA Photos
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Rene Meulensteen has hit out at Fulham's decision to appoint Felix Magath as their new first team manager, stating the club had "hit the panic button."

A shock statement released by the club on Friday indicated Magath had been given an 18-month deal, but made no mention whatsoever of Meulensteen, who first arrived at Craven Cottage in November as head coach before taking over from sacked manager Martin Jol just three weeks later.

Similarly, the statement failed to mention technical director Alan Curbishley and assistant head coach Ray Wilkins.

Meulensteen later told BBC Sport that he had been sacked, but Fulham have since moved to clarify that this is not the case and his contract has not been terminated.

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Meulensteen said: "I knew the owners were freaking out a little bit that there was the possibility of the club going down. The way forward that we have discussed with the club was about longevity and in this case it is clearly an act of fear.

"I have not had a lot of time and people who came to the Manchester United and Liverpool games could see what I was trying to put in place. I couldn't care less what they put in the statement, to be honest."

Shortly before Meulensteen spoke out over the decision, Fulham chairman Shad Khan released a statement on the club's official website to confirm the club's decision to appoint Magath as their new manager.

"I am very happy to welcome Felix Magath to Fulham Football Club," Khan said. "Felix is an accomplished manager with multiple honours in the Bundesliga and a hunger to replicate his success with Fulham in the Premier League.

"I'm especially impressed with the reputation Felix has for coming into clubs at difficult times, often late in the season, and lifting them to their potential and beyond. 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 January 1. 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.

"Alistair Mackintosh did a wonderful job during the January transfer window to improve our club. This week, Alistair recommended Felix, with his history of producing results for clubs with similar challenges as ours, as the new manager of Fulham. Alistair's recommendation received my complete approval and Felix has my unequivocal support."

Fulham chief executive Alistair Mackintosh said: "The opportunity to bring in a manager with the experience of Felix Magath would typically be unlikely at this point in the season. However, Felix relishes this challenge. He is very impressed with our squad and commitment by Mr Khan, and his confidence is precisely what we need over these final three months of the season. I thank Mr Khan for his support and we are all looking forward to welcoming Felix to Fulham."

Magath has had a long and successful managerial career, winning the German Double in back-to-back seasons with Bayern Munich before taking unfashionable Wolfsburg to the league crown in 2009. He has also managed Hamburg, Nurnberg, Werder Bremen, Eintracht Frankfurt, Vfb Stuttgart and Schalke.

Fulham remain rooted to the foot of the Premier League despite creditable performances against Manchester United, where they drew 2-2, and Liverpool. With just four wins from 17 games Fulham have decided to make a change in a desperate attempt to preserve their Premier League status.

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