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Magath: Why Cottage flops drove me to drink! FULHAM v CRYSTAL PALACE TODAY CRAVEN COTTAGE KICK-OFF 3pm.

Byline: WALLY DOWNES JR

FULHAM boss Felix Magath admits he hit the bottle after his side refused to fight off relegation.

The German boss watched his team capitulate against Stoke in a 4-1 defeat last week to consign them to a season in the Championship.

After the match Magath (left) accused his players of lacking fight and he was surprised at the response he got from them. "The players told me they cannot fight, I don't know [why]," he said. "They cannot fight. They haven't learned it."

"So I went for a meal with my wife and coaches in a restaurant and we had dinner and I drank some wine. I tried to relax with red wine and get a little bit tired until I went to sleep."

"It costs a lot of nerves and you are always under pressure in this situation. Sometimes I need a glass of red wine - but not so much.

"I have only drank alcohol twice since I arrived here; once when my wife arrived to visit me on her birthday and last Saturday, that's all."

When Magath arrived at Craven Cottage on Valentine's Day he came with a fierce reputation as a hard taskmaster. However, he looked after his players and awarded them days off for their few good performances.

He won't admit if he regrets being too soft on them but says the rot had well and truly set in by the time he arrived and it will take a summer of hard work to repair it.

"At the end you can't find one reason and blame that," he said ahead of today's match against Crystal Palace.

"It doesn't work. I didn't take on something that was well with only a little mistake, we were bottom of the table and things were messed up."

TONY PULIS has urged Crystal Palace to capitalise on their Premier League survival - and make significant progress on and off the pitch.

The Palace manager will meet with chairman Steve Parish this week to decide on future policy.

Pulis said ahead of today's clash: "This club now has a fantastic opportunity to really go forward and improve.

"Now is the time. We should take advantage of that."

And Pulis wants Palace to make the most of their fan base and make improvements at the training ground and the Selhurst Park stadium.

There have been suggestions that he will leave Palace in the summer, but Pulis said: "Will I be here? I hope so. I have two years left on my contract."

And he is proud of keeping the club in the top flight.

Pulis admitted: "It was a question of being single-minded and all moving in one direction.

"We did that - and with the smallest budget in the Premier League."

STEVE STAMMERS BET OF THE DAY Over 3.5 total goals, 2/1, (Hills). Could be value history says final-day bias is towards goals-galore results, including where you'd least expect them!

MISS OF THE DAY Palace clean sheet, 23/10 (Totesport). For all their misery, Fulham have failed to score in just one of their home PL games this season MATCH STATS Fulham and Crystal Palace have the worst records in PL London derbies this season, averaging 0.67 and 1 point per game respectively.

Fulham have conceded 83 goals in the Premier League this season - the only team to have conceded more in a 38-game season are Derby County in 2007-08 (89).

Palace captain Mile Jedinak is the only player to have reached triple figures in terms of tackles (131) and interceptions (137) in the Premier League this season.

LIKELY LINE-UPS FULHAM C PALACE STOCKDALE REITHER HEITINGA HANGELAND RIISE DEJAGAH PARKER DIARRA SIDWELL HOLTBY WOODROW SPERONI WARD DANN DELANEY MARIAPPA JEDINAK DIKGACOL LEDLEY PUNCHEON BOLASIE MURRAYGAMES PLAYED Michael Jedinak 37 261.8 Joel Ward 35 236.0 Damien Delaney 36 214.9 Jason Puncheon 33 193.0 Marouane Chamakh 31 170.5 MILES COVERED GAMES PLAYED Joel Ward 35 1534 Jason Puncheon 33 1483 Michael Jedinak 37 1373 Marouane Chamakh 31 1088 Cameron Jerome 29 1042 NO. OF SPRINTS GAMES PLAYED Cameron Jerome 29 20.36 Yannick Bolasie 28 20.07 Jimmy Kebe 6 19.91 Joel Ward 35 19.91 Patrick McCarthy 1 19.72 AVG TOP SPEED GAMES PLAYED Stuart O'Keefe 12 5.21 Adlene Guedioura 8 4.81 Jonathan Williams 9 4.80 Glenn Murray 13 4.61 Joseph Ledley 13 4.55 AVG SPEED The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index is the Official Player Rating Index of the Barclays Premier League Top 5 distance and speed performers for season 2013-14 GAMES PLAYED Steve Sidwell 37 250.2 Sascha Riether 31 183.5 Scott Parker 28 171.1 Kieran Richardson 30 164.1 Pajtim Kasami 29 153.0 MILES COVERED GAMES PLAYED Steve Sidwell 37 1563 Kieran Richardson 30 1253 Sascha Riether 31 1208 Pajtim Kasami 29 1199 Scott Parker 28 1070 NO. OF SPRINTS GAMES PLAYED Sascha Riether 31 20.23 Kieran Richardson 30 19.92 Aaron Hughes 13 19.89 Alex Kacaniklic 22 19.77 Bryan Ruiz 12 19.72 AVG TOP SPEED GAMES PLAYED Lewis Holtby 26 4.98 Alex Kacaniklic 22 4.92 Pajtim Kasami 29 4.85 Giorgos Karagounis 14 4.66 Bryan Ruiz 12 4.64 AVG SPEED

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GREAT JOB: Pulis
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 11, 2014
Words:884
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