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Meet Al Ahly’s managerial candidate: Felix Magath, the ‘last dictator in Europe’
It has been nearly two weeks since former Al Ahly manager Jose Peseiro quit and has since gone to FC Porto. Egyptian and African giants Al Ahly now seem to have found a new and without a doubt more controversial man for the managerial job.
The ‘last dictator in Europe’, the ‘executioner’, ‘Saddam’, these are just some of the phrases which have been used to describe Felix Magath over the years. A highly decorated and respected manager especially in his native Germany, he has all the qualities to without a doubt lead such an inconsistent and fragile Red Devils side to their glory days once again. However, looking deeper into the his managerial style and reigns at clubs such as German giants Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg and Fulham, it is undeniable that Magath has some cruel and simply horrifying techniques, to say the least, in which he uses to get the best out of his squad.
In fact, there’s no better example of this than at his brief and miserable reign at Fulham. It goes back to when former Fulham center-back Brede Hangeland, the then Fulham captain, suffered a slight thigh injury. The club’s doctor Stephen Lewis assured Magath that he would have Hangeland fit and ready for the game that weekend. According to English outlet BBC Magath had other ideas. His solution was bizarre to say the least, as he instructed kit man at the time Danny Young to go to the Tesco in New Malden not far away from Fulham’s training ground to buy a large block of cheese.
You can imagine the shock on Hangeland and Lewis’ faces when they were approached with the block of cheese and were told to apply it onto the injured thigh for several hours.
Unfortunately for Magath, it gets worse. His training methods aren’t the most graceful either. Following a loss as Fulham manager he ordered for the players’ day-off to be cancelled immediately and instead play a rather intense 90 minute football match. As a matter of fact, at other times he would force his players into training three sessions in one day, players would be brutally punished to the point where they would not be able to stand up and then came to them the realisation of why the former West Germany international was nicknamed “Saddam” at one of his former clubs according to German outlet Bild.
Magath has also made excuses for defeats by using the most absurd reasons. His Bayern Munich players were very strongly ordered not to sing in the shower under any circumstances. After a home defeat to Wolfsburg he blamed the defeat on the players singing in the shower 12 hours before the game, according to one player.
“We had to run fast through the forest for 45 minutes and somewhere there was suddenly a hill. We had two medicine balls under each arm and we had to run up to the top against the clock. If we failed to get up there in time we had to do it again. I used to die at the end of every training session with Magath.”
“At Frankfurt, his nickname was ‘Qualix’, which in German meant somebody who ran people to death. We called him Qualix Magath, but never to his face. Nobody was that brave, or stupid,” said Jan Aage Fjortoft.
Magath path to such bizzare and cruel acts as a manager had started before his Fulham days, when he was head coach at Wolfsburg. The Mirror had reported not long ago how he would order players to run for hours in the Alpine Woods and would then hide or empty their water bottles when they reached the summit just to see how they would react. Brazilian Grafite will tell you he wasn’t a fan, the former Wolfsburg striker collapsed in the woods whilst trying to carry out the Germans painful orders.
Bayern Munich’s former forward Lukas Podolski himself would tell you how many an encounter with Felix Magath in his office was rather tense and unpleasant. During his time as a player under Magath, he was once called to the German’s office for no apparent reason, Podolski was ready for his punishment. However, Magath didn’t shout, scream or even speak to him, he just sat in silence staring at the German player whilst stirring a hot cup of tea for 10 minutes! Podolski talks about how his confusion which turned into embarrassment as eventually Magath spoke the words “you can go”.
Even the Senior employees at the clubs in which he had worked in were bemused and shocked at Magath’s dominant and vigorous managerial decisions. Uli Hoeness, who employed Magath at Bayern between 2004 and 2007, said: “I would never want to treat human beings like he does. I would never want to hurt a player as much as he does. When Schalke lost 5-0 to Kaiserslautern he ordered the team to train in shorts in temperatures of minus four degrees. Gloves were forbidden.” The German seemed cold hearted, strict and very unaware of what the players were going through which pretty much sums up Magath.
Al Ahly players in particular wont be pleased to hear about Magath’s record with fining his team for ridiculous and unworthy reasons. Unnecessary back passes during a match incurred a 1,000 Euro penalty. Leaving the ball to bounce was 500 Euros and even the most simple thing such as wearing headphones took 250 Euros of your earnings. Every minute a player was late to training, that was 100 Euros snatched back into the clubs account according to Joe.co.uk.
The German does have a highly creditable CV, especially during his time in Germany. As a player his achievements include three Bundesliga titles, a European Cup, Uefa Cup and the European Cup with his country West Germany. As a manager it’s equally impressive, leading his German sides to three Bundesliga Titles.
Although his managerial style may be arguably cruel, heartless and very difficult to withstand, the man nicknamed ‘Saddam’, ‘the Killer’ and the ‘last dictator in Europe’ has the backing of his previous achievements to somehow justify his managerial actions. It is understandable Al Ahly fans may be outraged by the appointment of such a dominant and unpredictable character, but there is a chance that Magath could be the man to bring success back to the Cairo giants.