sport

Magath: Home win is crucial

Felix Magath says Fulham's win at Villa Park will 'mean nothing' if they fail to beat Norwich at home this weekend.

The 60-year-old German replaced Rene Meulensteen at Craven Cottage on February 14 and still has a battle on his hands to maintain Fulham's Premier League status.

A win at Aston Villa last weekend means Fulham remain in the hunt and they welcome fellow strugglers Norwich to west London on Saturday knowing a win would take them within two points of escaping the relegation zone.

Norwich, in 17th place, have a five-point advantage over the Cottagers - but three of those can be wiped out on Saturday if Fulham win.

With three of their five remaining league games coming against teams in the bottom half of the table, Fulham's run-in certainly looks more favourable than Norwich's, whose new boss Neil Adams faces the daunting prospect of a final four games against Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

But Magath insists he had to change the mentality of the squad he inherited two months ago and wants to build on the 2-1 win at Villa Park.

"At the time all the people were telling me, 'we have 12 games left and we have a good schedule'," he said.

"They saw the possibility but they didn't realise that first you have to make points to have a chance [of staying up] at the end.

"Now everybody knows we have to win at the weekend. It was an important win last week at Aston Villa but if we don't win on Saturday it was for nothing.

"It is very difficult for Norwich. It doesn't matter, the result on Saturday, because for the rest of the season they have tough games."

The former Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg coach entered English football with a reputation as a strict disciplinarian - which seemed to suit Fulham's requirements given their situation.

But Magath feels he has shown his softer side, insisting the whole club need to work together to give Fulham the best chance of surviving.

"I told you I was a nice man," he said. "I know I have had to convince you but I know I'm a nice boy.

"But it's not just a question of the manager. The whole club has to be in the right mood. They whole club has to realise you have to fight together against relegation. It's not possible for one man, it doesn't matter who it is.

"It works only if you all fit together and go only in the one direction. If you have to many people inside your club, you can do what you want but it will never work. You have no chance to give the players the right atmosphere."