Fulham replace Rene Meulensteen with Felix Magath

Fulham have appointed Felix Magath as their manager and charged him with saving their Premier League status after losing faith in René Meulensteen and relieving him of his first-team duties after only 75 days in charge.

The west London club have not technically sacked Meulensteen; rather they have made his position untenable by bringing in Magath to do his job and, although the terms of his departure have not yet been finalised, that will happen over the coming days.

Fulham confirmed the appointment of Magath on an 18-month contract and also said the composition of his backroom staff would be revealed "in the near future". The club's statement made no mention of Meulensteen because when it went out at 6.51pm on Friday, he remained under contract. He still is, until the end of the season, but both he and Fulham know that their working relationship is over. A settlement will now be negotiated.

Fulham felt that they had to act after Meulensteen oversaw a return of 10 points from his 13 league fixtures, after he himself had succeeded Martin Jol on 1 December, and the fighting performances in the past week against Manchester United (away) and Liverpool (home), when they drew 2-2 and lost 3-2 respectively, counted for nothing. Cold analysis revealed a continuation of the worrying trend to ship goals and only one point gained.

Magath, the 60-year-old disciplinarian, who has won the Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich (twice) and Wolfsburg, had been on the verge of returning to Hamburg, the club where he became a legend as a player. Hamburg are mired in a desperate relegation struggle themselves under Bert van Marwijk. Yet Magath's demands for full control of the club and a place on the board were not acceptable and, on Thursday, the deal was called off, paving the way for Fulham to move decisively.