The Tony Gale Column

Tuesday 18 February 2014 15:30

There’s only one place to start with the column this week isn’t there, and that’s the appointment of Felix Magath as First Team Manager. Drastic measures had to be taken and the powers that be have decided that the best way to get us out of this trouble is to get a new man in. Everybody says that he’s a hardliner, but he’s got a good record and he’s managed some top, top clubs.

The immediate thing that we need to establish is making sure that we’re hard to beat – that’s Magath’s first priority. People were upbeat about the Manchester United game but the fact was that, although it was great defending, we got battered. Absolutely battered. It was a great point; there was some great goalkeeping, and we defended well, but we rarely got out of our own half. And against Liverpool we were too open again and we lost 3-2 when, if you’re organised and compact, you can close that game up when you go 2-1 in front, even though you’re playing a top side like Liverpool. So that’s the thing we’ve got to do - we’ve got to establish that it starts at the back. I believe it will be a very similar style to what we were like under Roy Hodgson, as I think Magath is kind of in the same mould.

There are 12 games left to play now and it goes without saying that we must not go down. It would be disastrous because there are no guarantees of getting back up as the Championship is a real hard league. We’ve seen that this year, so it’s so, so important that we try our utmost to stay up. We need all the fans to get behind the new Manager because, at the end of the day, all that matters is the Club. The players are not only playing for themselves, but everyone involved with Fulham Football Club. I’ve been in teams that have gone down and I’ve seen what can happen, and I desperately hope Fulham can avoid that – I’m sure we can.

We’ve got some big games coming up and I don’t think anyone can afford to be negative at this time. West Bromwich Albion are our next opponents and they haven’t had a win under Pepe Mel yet, although they’ve taken some decent points recently against Liverpool and Chelsea. I know it’s away from home but we’ve got to win the game – we’ve got to take three points from some of these matches against the sides that are in and around us. And if we can just get back-to-back wins on the board, and I know it’s going to be difficult because we’ve got Chelsea on the horizon, it will really put the cat amongst the pigeons because everybody’s looking at Fulham now and thinking that we’re a little bit cut adrift.

If we win on Saturday then that puts us just one point behind West Brom in the table which would make things look a whole lot better. It’s not all doom and gloom because it’s not an insurmountable number of points that we need to get back into it. All the teams are beating each other so no-one’s really going to get away where we’re six to eight points adrift. But we’ve got to hang in there.

As I said, Chelsea are next up after the weekend and it makes for an interesting home debut for Magath. The players have got to be up for it. Obviously it’s the derby that all Fulham fans look forward to. When I was at the Club we always looked forward to it so I’m sure the current squad are too. We’ve got to really give ourselves that opportunity to go into the Chelsea game with some confidence, though, and that would come from beating West Brom.

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