A woeful performance against Stoke City, combined with Sunderland beating Manchester United, saw Fulham officially crash out of the Premier League. After thirteen consecutive seasons in the top flight, the Cottagers will spend next year in the Championship.
It’s been a rocky season for Fulham. They started the season out under Martin Jol, who was in charge until December 1. After six straight defeats, René Meulensteen took sole charge of the team. The Dutchman lasted less than three months, winning just four of his seventeen games in charge. Desperate to avoid relegation, Fulham then appointed Felix Magath, who’d never seen a side relegated.
Until Saturday, that is. Despite Fulham picking up 11 points from 11 games under Magath, the German couldn’t keep the side safe. And he’s feeling rather bad about that: “I feel very sad,” said Magath. “I have to apologise for not managing the situation. The club asked me to come – I tried.”
But the German, not known for his mincing of words, was not prepared to accept all the blame. Instead, he had some rather harsh words for the players who took to the field against Stoke:
There was no reason for that performance – it’s the worst game since I’ve been here. I didn’t expect it. We were fighting against relegation. I told the team, today was a great chance but we never took the chance. The thing is you can never say any player would like to see relegation, but they didn’t fight enough, especially today.
Indeed, anyone watching without knowning the standings would’ve found it hard to believe Fulham were playing for survival. The Potters found it all too easy to cut through the defense, scoring almost at will, while the visitors were only able to register four shots on target. Magath may have tried to save his side, but the players certainly didn’t look as though they were trying to rescue themselves.