Embracing youth the key to Magath’s survival bid with Fulham

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Much has been made of the steely reputation of Fulham’s Felix Magath, but having picked up the club’s first Premier League win since New Year’s Day and making some cut-throat changes in the process, the German could prove to be just what they need.

Having bested a Newcastle side locked in mid-table, without their banned manager and rapidly losing their passion for the season, Fulham secured a 1-0 win that leaves them just four points behind 17th-place Crystal Palace and 11/4-shots to survive a torrid season.

That is a bet well worth having a punt on as the Magath era looks to be taking on a youthful shape at Craven Cottage.

19-year-old Cauley Woodrow was preferred upfront – although Magath claimed Kostas Mitroglou and Darren Bent missed the game through injury and for personal reasons respectively – and performed well, while David Stockdale ousted Maarten Stekelenburg and vindicated the decision.

In fact only two of the west London club’s starting XI were over 30 against the Magpies, as Magath, the third Fulham manager of the season, made five changes. Afterwards the German indicated that would be a policy he’d stick with, saying the younger players had “nothing to lose.”

It’s Manchester City, the 23/20 Premier League title favourites, up next for the Cottagers and fielding another young side, like the one that held Manchester United to a draw some weeks ago, could be a clever strategy. With Martin Demichelis and Joleon Lescott likely to marshal the City defence in water-treading partnership, Woodrow’s movement can be key to claiming an unlikely result (a Fulham win is 14/1).

There are battles to be had with fellow relegation scrappers Hull, Norwich and Crystal Palace beyond that City game though and it is the results in these matches that will ultimately decide Fulham’s fate, with a new-found vigour tipping the scales in Magath’s favour.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.