Magic man Magath begins his latest Houdini act at Ipswich
Prior to last season with Fulham, Cottagers boss Felix Magath, whose side are 3/1 third-favourites for promotion, had never been relegated in his 17 years in management with nine spells at clubs. However, the German has garnered up a reputation in his homeland for his Houdini acts and has been given the nickname ‘Fireman’, due to saving sides from certain demise.
In what will be a new experience for Magath, 61, aiming to bring a club back up straight from the drop, he has been in a promotion situation before with former side Nuremberg in 1997/98. That time, however, the club, who had just come up from the German third-tier, were tipped to go straight down. Odds and talk means nothing to Magath, though, as he superbly lead them to a third-place finish and thus promotion to the Bundesliga.
He has already begun his revival of Fulham by making a massive squad overhaul, that has seen no less than nine new faces join this summer, and 14 leave – many of whom were established players.
But Magath’s disciplinarian approach has paid dividends in the past, and he is no stranger to going transfer crazy, yet reaping the rewards as well due his magically ability to gel new players. He certainly has showed no signs that his powers have faded either, as his new look-side have won five out of six of their pre-season matches.
Magath starts life in his first full campaign in England away to Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town, who are way down the odds table with Coral at 8/1 for promotion. Despite this, though, it is the Tractor Boys who go into this encounter as 7/5 favourites for victory, with Fulham priced at 9/5, while a draw is 12/5.
But that may be due to the fact Ipswich have won their last five homes games and not lost their in their previous nine head-to-heads against the Cottagers, despite the two clubs not playing each other in any competition for 14 years.
Goals in their last four encounters have come sparingly, though, with a 1-1 draw the most scored in those fixtures. That result again is priced at 5/1, while 0-0 is a very tempting 17/2.
Fulham may unleash new star striker and £11m man Ross McCormack, in their bid to beat Ipswich for the first time in over 50 years, the last coming in 1963 when they were 10-1 winners. The former Leeds United man was Championship top scorer last term, and has scored four times when starting his last four games against the Tractor Boys. Scotsman McCormack is a 6/4 chance to net again at anytime, or 8/1 to get two or more.
New Ipswich tall target man Balint Bajner of Hungary, meanwhile, who was signed from Borussia Dortmund, is a 15/8 shot to score in the match at Portman Road.
For both sides, the majority of their players are fit to play their season opener, but Ipswich’s new signing Cameron Stewart will definitely be out, due to a broken jaw.
Magath will certainly relish this underdog challenge once more, and Fulham are 11/1 chances to be champions at the end of the campaign.