• Football

Magath confident of another Houdini act

ESPN staff
February 17, 2014
Felix Magath boasts that he has saved several German clubs from relegation © PA Photos

Felix Magath is confident he can add Fulham to his list of famous "Houdini" acts as he begins to plot his new club's Premier League survival.

As a manager Magath has won three Bundesliga titles, twice with Bayern Munich and once with Wolfsberg, but also carved out a reputation as a firefighter in Germany after several successful survival bids as manager.

Felix Magath - 'The Fireman'

  • 1997-98 Takes over at 1.FC Nurnberg, who have just won promotion to second tier and are favourites for immediate drop. Leads them to third-placed finish, and promotion to Bundesliga.
  • 1998-99 Wins German Cup with Werder Bremen and also navigates them through season-long relegation battle, and they avoid the drop by a single point despite defeat on the final day of the season.
  • 1999-00 Joins troubled Eintracht Frankfurt, who are favourites for relegation in their first season back in the Bundesliga. A late run in the last two months of the season sees them avoid the drop by four points.
  • 2001: Orchestrates his most famous relegation survival at VfB Stuggart, who he steers clear of relegation after taking over in February with the club languishing in 19th. By the 2002-03 season, Stuggart had become title contenders under Magath - finishing second in the league.
  • 2011: Returns to VfL Wolfsburg, who he had led to the title in 2009, in March. The club is two places off safety but under Magath's lead they avoid the relegation play-off by just two points.

Fulham sit four points off of safety and face 17th-placed West Brom on Saturday at the Hawthorns - arguably the biggest remaining match on their calendar behind the trip to Cardiff on March 8.

His most notable feat came with Stuggart - who were 19th when he took over in February 2001 but avoided the drop by three points - and Magath is confident he can emulate that feat again at Craven Cottage.

"I am sure I can [avoid relegation] because I have done it sometimes before in Germany," Magath said.

"I've taken over clubs in a similar situation to Fulham and I am very confident I can do it once more again here in England. We have 12 games. That is enough to keep them in the Premier League.

"My focus is now on preparing the team for our most important game, against West Brom next Saturday. After that I will talk to staff and make the decisions we need to make."

Magath's appointment is his first job outside of his native country, though he links up with former Wolfsberg winger Ashkan Dejagah and German internationals Lewis Holtby and Sascha Riether.

Though he only walked through the door at the weekend Magath admits he has been impressed by the attitude of his players - and has called on the fans to stay positive during the club's survival bid.

"I am surprised by the team - they are very ambitious and keen to show you better results in the next games and I'm sure that we can make it.," he added.

"I know not only the German players, I know the international players very well so I think we have a team that has more potential than they have shown before.

"I'm sure that we will do that in the next games and that we can do it in our biggest games - like next weekend's. There is a good confidence and a winning spirit in the team and we wil start with it against West Brom.

"If I know if the fans support us 100%,and the players give 100% in the next days, I am sure we have the potential to avoid relegation."

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