Felix Magath remains as confident as ever that Fulham will begin the 2014/15 campaign as a member of the Premier League elite.
The German coach is the third manager the Cottagers have had this season, having previously sacked Martin Jol and then his successor and Dutch compatriot Rene Meulensteen. He took charge with the Londoners in a perilous position in the top-flight, and they remain rooted to the foot of the table with 10 matches remaining.
On a positive note, six of these fixtures are against sides in the bottom half of the table, and Magath believes this gives his players added belief they can more than pull back the four points which currently separates them from safety. Indeed, the 60-year-old has been surprised about the relaxed atmosphere within the dressing room.
“The team is growing together and that is what makes me sure that we can avoid relegation,” he said. “I get the feeling here that everybody sleeps well with the knowledge there are games ahead of us we can win. The atmosphere is really relaxed for the situation we are in; it’s not typical for a team fighting against relegation. Everybody has to put in a shift and push the team and push the players to give their best.”
The first two games of Magath’s reign have ended in a 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion, which preceded the 3-1 home defeat to league leaders Chelsea last weekend. Next up is a trip to Cardiff City, who are just a point ahead of the Londoners. Their fortunes have not been improved since they sacked Malky Mackay and installed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has won just one match in eight since taking over in January.
Meanwhile, Holland international John Heitinga insists he has no regrets about joining Fulham in the winter transfer window. The 30-year-old rejected a move to West Ham United as he didn’t want to be engulfed in a relegation battle, but despite the Hammers now in the top-half of the table, the former Everton and Atletico Madrid man believes he made the right decision when he instead opted to join their capital rivals.
“I had a few other options but Fulham was a good decision and still is a good decision,” he said in the Chronicle. “The main thing for me is to get [playing] time, keep Fulham in the Premier League and make the World Cup. I knew before I signed here that this was going to be tough. We know we are in a situation where we need to win and stick together.”