Fulham’s pricey savior won’t even make the bench against Chelsea


it’s January. The team you just bought is sitting in the relegation zone, in danger of slipping down into the Championship. Parachute payments aren’t going to help you recoup your investment. What do you do?

Well, bring in a bunch of players during the winter transfer window, of course. That’s just what Fulham did, bringing in cover at midfield, experience at the back and a returning hero in Clint Dempsey. Then, when the Cottagers still couldn’t win a game, it was out with René Meulensteen and in with Felix Magath, the second managerial change of the season. The new coach secured a draw against fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion last time out, but Fulham remain dead last.

Which is why it comes as something of a surprise that Magath has announced that Konstantinos Mitroglou, secured from Olympiakos for a hefty £12m, won’t even make the bench when Chelsea come to town on Saturday afternoon. You’d think that the Premier League’s bottom side would want all their resources available in an attempt to thwart the leaders, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Mitroglou made an appearance last week against West Brom, coming on as a substitute, and managed to impress in a stint with Fulham’s U21 side. At first it was thought that Magath would leave him out because he’s still not yet fit enough – he came to Fulham carrying an injury – but now, it seems, the coach believes the Greek isn’t ready to handle the intensity of the Premier League.

The mystery deepens when you consider the fact that Magath himself did say that Mitroglou is fit enough to play 30 minutes. With his reputation as a finisher, combined with Darren Bent’s increasingly dismal reputation in that area, it seems he’d be valuable to have on the bench. But Mitroglou needs work before he’ll play again, the Fulham manager says.

£12m is a lot to spend on a player that’s not even going to warm the bench. But if Magath manages to outwit the visiting José Mourinho, questions about the intelligence of this decision will likely be pushed to the back burner.