Fulham: Mohamed Al Fayed hits back at Felix Magath criticism

Mohamed Al Fayed and Felix Magath
Mohamed Al Fayed (left) sold Fulham last summer while Felix Magath was appointed manager in February

Ex-Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed has hit back at claims by current manager Felix Magath that he is to blame for their relegation last season.

Al Fayed sold the club to American billionaire Shahid Khan last summer after 16 years in charge of the Whites.

"The problem we had was that the owner before had not spent money," Magath, 61, told the Evening Standard.external-link

But 84-year-old Al Fayed, writing in the same newspaper,external-link said: "To be blamed for that failure is absurd."

He added: "What's strange is that after losing Fulham's first four games of the Championship season, he has got time to criticise me - someone he has never met - instead of devoting every waking second to putting right his own glaring mistakes.

"What is wrong is to blame someone else instead of taking responsibility for your own actions."

Mohamed Al Fayed (left) and Shahid Khan
Al Fayed (left) sold Fulham to Shahid Khan, who also owns NFL side Jacksonville Jaguars, in July 2013

Magath was appointed Fulham manager in February, replacing Rene Meulensteen - who had taken charge after Martin Jol was dismissed the previous December.

Magath won only three of 12 Premier League games last season as Fulham were relegated, ending their 13-year stay in the top flight.

But the former Bayern Munich, Schalke and Wolfsburg manager cited the west London club's long-term transfer policy as the reason for their demise.

"The club sold the best players and brought in average players," he said.

"You cannot go on doing that for a long time."

Al Fayed defended his record at Fulham, which saw him take the club from the third tier to the Premier League.

The Egyptian pointed to the £10.6m fee spent on Costa Rica international Bryan Ruiz and the signing of defender Brede Hangeland, adding that seeing his work "destroyed in a season" was a "bitter experience".

Al Fayed argued that the players who reached the Europa League final in 2010 were "titans of the game and everyone a hero".

Several long-serving and senior players including Hangeland, Damian Duff, John Arne Riise and Steve Sidwell left Craven Cottage this summer with Magath utilising young players from the club's academy.

"I did that for years at Schalke. I took out older players and put in younger ones," Magath said.

"I learned to work with them. We were very good, very successful and we developed some players for the national team.

"I am not depressed. If you are relegated, that is a chance to make things new. Our objective is to get back into the Premier League at the end of the season. Mr Khan relies on me to bring us back."