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Fulham finally confirm Meulensteen departure

The Cottagers installed Felix Magath as their new manager with just 12 games of the season left last week.

Image: Adam Davy

PREMIER LEAGUE STRUGGLERS Fulham bowed to the inevitable tonight by confirming the departure of former manager Rene Meulensteen.

The west London club took dramatic action Friday in a bid to preserve their top-flight status by bringing in Felix Magath as their new manager with just 12 games of the season left.

However, at the time Fulham made no mention of Meulensteen’s fate or that of assistant manager Ray Wilkins and technical director Alan Curbishley.

But a Fulham statement issued Tuesday confirmed the trio had all left Craven Cottage as Magath brought in his own backroom staff.

“Fulham Football Club have officially announced the appointments of Tomas Oral as first-team coach and Werner Leuthard as conditioning coach, both reporting to new first-team manager Felix Magath, effective immediately,” the statement said.

“The club simultaneously made the formal announcement that Rene Meulensteen, Alan Curbishley, Ray Wilkins, (coaches) Mick Priest and Jonathan Hill have departed Fulham. Terms of the parting are complete and confidential.”

Fulham chairman Shahid Khan added: “I’m very grateful to Rene, Alan and Ray, as well as Mick and Jonathan, for their commitment to Fulham. Their efforts were admirable and appreciated, and I wish them the best.

“Felix has come to Fulham with purpose and exceptional confidence, and I know he’s extremely pleased to have Tomas Oral and Werner Leuthard join him for the mission ahead. From today forward, the focus is singularly on winning football matches and remaining in the Barclays Premier League. The work has begun.”

Former Manchester United head coach Meulensteen had been in charge of the Cottagers for little more than two months after being promoted from within the west London club’s backroom staff to replace fellow-Dutchman Martin Jol on December 1.

However, Wednesday’s 3-2 home defeat by Liverpool — where Fulham twice took the lead before losing out to Steven Gerrard’s stoppage-time penalty — left the Cottagers bottom of the table and four points adrift of safety.

Germany Soccer Bundesliga Felix Magath: facing Premier League challenge. Source: Matthias Schrader

And that was enough for Khan, a Pakistan-born US-based businessman, to sack Meulensteen.

It was the second time this season Meulensteen had been dismissed after he was fired just 16 days into his time in charge of Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in August.

Meulensteen responded to his effective sacking Friday by accusing Fulham of “freaking out” and “hitting the panic button on the emotions of fear”.

Former Bayern Munich manager Magath’s first match as Fulham boss will be away to West Bromwich Albion, themselves just above the relegation zone, on Saturday.

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