Fulham supporters were calling for Felix Magath to go even before their side were hammered 5-1 at Derby on Saturday.

That defeat left the club ­bottom of the Championship and with just three wins in 16 games since owner Shahid Khan appointed Magath in February.

Anger will increase should Fulham lose their Capital One Cup derby at Brentford tonight — a match between two sides who were worlds apart last season with one in the Premier League and the other in League One.

Khan, though, will not be swayed by the chants of “Magath out” that rang round Craven Cottage after last week’s defeat by Wolves.

The German is Khan’s third manager since he bought the club from Mohamed Fayed a year ago and despite the sackings of Martin Jol, whom he inherited, and Rene Meulensteen, the billionaire insists he is not a hire-and-fire man.

“[The sackings were] very little to do with me,” says Khan. “It was to do with the results and then the manager decides whether they have the internal strength, the fortitude to make the club successful. Or they feel a change is better.

“We chose Felix as we wanted ­somebody with experience of dealing with the threat of relegation. Even then, we knew we might not be successful and if, God forbid, the worst happened how would we deal with it.

“We knew the Championship was more physical. You’ve got to have a Plan A [to avoid relegation] and a

Plan B [for promotion]. Felix was the ideal person to execute both plans.”

Magath is working on Plan B and that has involved a huge overhaul of the squad with older players weeded out and six brought in from the ­Academy.

The German believes this is the only way forward and lays the blame for the club’s plight on the previous owner.

Fayed spent around £200million on Fulham in 16 years, taking them from the old Division Two to the Premier League and keeping them there. However, in the closing years of his reign, the outlay on signings diminished.

“The problem we had was that the owner before had not spent money,” says Magath. “The club sold the best players and brought in average players. You cannot go on doing that for a long time. That is why we are struggling. Now we have the chance to change things. I also did this in Stuttgart in 2002. They were a club without money.

“I did that for years at Schalke 04. I took out older players and put in younger ones. I learned to work with them. We were very good, very successful and we developed some players for the national team.”

Leaning forward, he proudly mentions two players who had huge roles in Germany’s World Cup triumph.

“I brought Philipp Lahm into the squad at Stuttgart,” says Magath. “He then became a national player, our [German] captain and one of the most successful players in Germany, even in the world. I also took on a young goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. He was the third goalkeeper in Germany when I stepped in at Schalke. After I left, he was No1 in Germany and now he’s the best in the world. I hope to be as successful here with Fulham.”

Magath can already see one of the club’s youngsters emulating Lahm’s rise. “I’m convinced Patrick Roberts will be a player, not only for the Premier League but for the national team as well in the next few years.”

The England Under-17 winger has already caught Liverpool’s eye but for all the talent he and Fulham’s other young players have, Magath accepts they need a few old heads around them.

“In a new team, you have to build up a leadership,” says Magath. “My captain, Scott Parker, is a very good leader. But he needs beside him one or two who can support him and that is what we have to build up now. In the matches so far we have had a lot of possession but not found the way to scoring. We will.”

When Magath was appointed much was made of his famed intense training sessions. But he says: “You in the press cannot deal with normal things. So you make a special thing of my training principles. The English work very hard. I have changed a little bit, a bit more passing, a bit more tiki-taka and I hope I can convince everybody that strength plus technical skill will make the perfect mix for promotion.”

Hopes of a swift return to the Premier League look distant following Fulham’s dreadful start.

However, Magath says: “I am not depressed. If you are relegated, that is a chance to make things new. If you do new things, you will never be right in everything. In our situation you have a tough time at the beginning if you change a lot. The beginning is the most dangerous period. I was prepared for that. I know how things work but it is a long season. If you win five or six games in a row, you’ll be up in a short time.

“Mr Khan knows that now is the time for changes. He knows because he has done that in his company. He knows he is not a football specialist but is a very successful leader of a company. I like working with Mr Khan. Our objective is to get back into the Premier League at the end of the season. Mr Khan relies on me to bring us back.”

However, Magath says the pressure for an immediate return to the top flight is not from the owner but from himself. “I want it. I want to play at the highest level, therefore I’ve come to England. I have not come here to play in the Championship for the next five years.”

Khan also owns Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL, where relegation does not exist, and despite his first year in English football ending in a painful new experience the American businessman is happy to be here.

“I have no regrets about buying Fulham,” he says. “Absolutely not. This is a perfect club for what we wanted to do. It’s absolutely historic, small and has just the perfect fan base. It brings me a lot of joy and pleasure. The fans couldn’t be nicer to me frankly. I was there for the Millwall game. I got there early and I stayed late, talked to them, listened to a lot of people.

“We invested significantly last year and we’re investing significantly this year but we’re doing it in a way which is for the long haul. We’re moving forward, even on bricks and mortar, waiting on approval at Craven Cottage. It’s a great venue but we need to improve it. But we are not going about it in a foolish manner. Clubs shouldn’t be counting on an owner just as a benefactor. I’m very optimistic and, under Felix’s leadership, we want to come up and be a sustainable club in the future.

“We’re basically at the reinvigoration stage. It’s almost going back to the future.”

Then, with a laugh, he refuses to speculate when that future will arrive, saying: “You can’t say whether it’s a year or longer but we’re going to do all the right things. And I am not going to give up.”

The full BIG interview:–fulham-duo-felix-magath-and-shahid-khan-vow-to-battle-on-at-craven-cottage-9690849.html


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