The Fulham v Liverpool Connection That Has Bounced Back From Hodgson's Embers

These two have rekindled an old romance that fell flat...
11:05, 03 May 2023

Liverpool and Fulham’s relationship over the years has been difficult to pin down. They are certainly not close neighbours, rivals or even friends, but there has been an almost indistinguishable relationship between the two since the turn of the Millenium. Tonight they meet at Anfield as Liverpool look to continue their winning run, but this special relationship isn’t what it once was. 

Perhaps all fingers will end up pointing to Roy Hodgson for that, but first we must take a trip back through time to get to the start of this marriage of convenience. During the 1970s, 80s and 90s, the two clubs were barely even acquaintances as Fulham bobbed between the second and third tier while Liverpool contested for major honours at the top of the English game. 

In fact, they only met eight times, in the League Cup, between 1968 and 2000 and yet since then, their match-ups have become increasingly common, as has their transfer dealings. Liverpool legend Peter Beardsley had a brief spell in the capital but it was German defender Karl-Heinz Riedle whet the appetite for dealings between the clubs in the late 90s as former Liverpool boss Roy Evans took him to Craven Cottage and helped the London club back into the top flight.

Once they were amongst the elite, the deals just kept on coming. Steve Finnan was blooming brilliant at the Cottage for five seasons, gaining two promotions and winning the Intertoto Cup, and for the paltry sum of £3.5, Liverpool took him to Anfield in 2003. The Irish international was superbly reliable and helped the Reds to Champions League glory in 2005, as well as the FA Cup in 2006. 

Liverpool were a decent team by the mid-2000s, having reached two Champions League finals in three years with Steven Gerrard dragging the team by the scruff of the neck. But a man who played alongside him for six years at Anfield won the cup treble on Merseyside and would later make his name at Fulham. Danny Murphy. 

Now known for giving his hit and miss opinions on TalkSPORT, he was a decent top level footballer back in the day. A penalty expert, and a man who found a home in Fulham after a tough few years. From Liverpool he joined Charlton and then Spurs, but neither of those clubs were able to see the best of him. But at Fulham, he became captain of the side and led them to two top eight finishes and a Europa League final. They beat Juventus on the way to the final on one of Craven Cottage’s most famous nights, and would have met Liverpool in the final, had Atletico Madrid not knocked the Reds out in the other semi.

Murphy was great for both clubs. And so was John Arne Riise. Seven years at Liverpool, the man with the hardest shot in the game was a hit at Anfield, and did well at Fulham in the three years he spent there from 2011. The lovable character was easy to side with, but another left-back didn’t fare so well at Anfield. 

Liverpool had already felt the full force of Paul Konchesky as he scored in the 2006 FA Cup final for West Ham, and his performances at Fulham in that golden spell between 2007 and 2010 led to two England caps. Hodgson, selected by Liverpool as the man to take them forward, was plucked from Fulham in 2010, and decided to take Konchesky with him. 

Unfortunately for the oldest manager in Premier League history, things didn’t work out at Liverpool. It was a poor squad on paper and by January Hodgson had been sacked, while Konchesky followed him out the door that summer. Although Liverpool fans still look back on that time with derision, in retrospect the problems didn’t all fall at the door of the manager, who has since proven himself to be an elite coach on more than one occasion. 

If the Hodgson/Konchesky debacle slightly soured the relationship, it didn’t completely ruin it. Lazar Markovic almost did. But out of the Markovic embers, has come some genuine hope. Liverpool picked up Harvey Elliott as a 16-year-old from Fulham for £4.3m and four years on, he is starting games on a regular basis and looks like a real emerging talent. 

Meanwhile, the sale of Harry Wilson to Fulham has been a resounding success and he was a key player in their title-winning season last term. Now performing in the Premier League, he is a senior Welsh international and this transfer has allowed him to play at the top level. More recently, another successful youngster has gone to the north west from the capital in the form of Fabio Carvalho. 

The teenage star also helped Fulham get out of the Championship and has made a good impression in his first year on Merseyside. The youngsters have seemingly found a route to success between these two clubs and this once steady relationship that turned rocky, is on easy street once again. 

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