The hits just keep coming for Lewis Holtby. Out of favor at Tottenham once Andre Villas-Boas was sacked, his loan to Fulham was supposed to bring a new lease on life for the German midfielder.
But Holtby is again at the center of turmoil just a few matches into his time at Craven Cottage, and there’s no question it has little do with anything he’s done in as a Cottager.
That’s because Fulham has brought in German manager Felix Magath to replace Rene Meulensteen as manager, and Holtby has a history of frustration playing under Magath when the two were together at Schalke.
Surely the player didn’t foresee the strict Magath becoming his boss again when he was asked in December about the potential of playing under another tough-minded coach. Here’s his response to whether he’d be cool to play under Louis van Gaal if he was hired at Tottenham:
“I wouldn’t have a problem if Van Gaal came in. After all, I’ve survived Felix Magath too,” Holtby told Bild at the time.
And it’s not as if Magath doesn’t know he has a reputation. The German manager once hid his players’ water bottles after a long, arduous run through the mountains. He was referred to as “the last dictator in Europe.”
In any event, Holtby says it’s all about perspective in the face of hype:
“I don’t have any fear,” said Holtby. “From my point of view, it’s being hyped up right now. I have grown as a player and my time under Magath is already almost five years away.
“We are both in Fulham to reach one goal and that is staying up. Everything else is secondary.”
As you can imagine, though, the news caught him off guard.
“At the weekend, I was in Denmark visiting my girlfriend’s family,” he said. “I booked a flight for Sunday afternoon, but since the first training session under Felix Magath was scheduled on such short notice for Sunday morning, I had to return a day early. The news was of course a big surprise.”