The confusion at Fulham continued yesterday with the club insisting Rene Meulensteen had not been sacked despite Felix Magath being brought in as the "first-team manager" over his head.
The future of Alan Curbishley, recently appointed technical director at Craven Cottage, is also in serious doubt after it emerged that he had not been consulted in the abrupt decision to replace Meulensteen, after just 75 days in charge, with Magath.
Fulham dispute that Meulensteen has been sacked, refuting the Dutchman's claim on radio on Friday evening that he had been "released" by Alistair Mackintosh, the chief executive, to make way for Magath, who has signed an 18-month contract.
Magath, who has won three German titles, is due to meet Fulham's backroom staff today. In theory, therefore, Meulensteen would be expected to report for duty but that is highly unlikely to happen unless he has a change of heart.
Ray Wilkins, who was appointed Meulensteen's assistant in December, has admitted he is "completely in the dark" over his own future at the club, who sit bottom of the Premier League with just 12 matches to go. Meulensteen, who held the title of head coach, is understood to now be seeking clarification from Fulham as to what is happening but does not expect to return to the club.
A source close to him said yesterday that the "reality is he has been terminated" from his job. "Rene will be calling for clarification – but as far as he is concerned his job has gone," the source said.
Meulensteen is said to be clear that he was given responsibility for the first-team when he succeeded Martin Jol and so has effectively been dismissed with Magath now handed those duties. It remains to be seen whether Fulham dispute this.
The 49-year-old had been under increasing pressure in recent weeks having collected just 10 points from 13 games. But the timing of his removal is, nevertheless, bizarre given the backing he received in the January transfer window – with Fulham spending more than £15m – and he has overseen a huge improvement in the last two performances in drawing with Manchester United and losing narrowly to Liverpool.
Magath's first game will be the vital away match against fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion with Fulham's players due to meet their new manager tomorrow.
Fulham had insisted they would back Meulensteen for the "long haul" and also last week dismissed suggestions Curbishley would take over unless results improve. The former West Ham United and Charlton manager was employed as a 'mentor' to help Meulensteen.
Sunday Indo Sport