Tag Archives: Roy Hodgson

Premier League Files: Wilfried Zaha

Premier League Career: Manchester United (2013), Cardiff City (2014), Crystal Palace (2014-PRESENT)

Wilfried Zaha is the key player at Crystal Palace. His ability is unquestionable and so is his talent. When Zaha plays well, Palace are a much better side. When he is injured or not in the side, the Eagles find it a major struggle without his presence. Now 26, many Premier League experts believe Zaha is one of the best players outside the top six teams. Recent form would suggest that too, although he has had a taste of the big time at Manchester United which didn’t work out for all parties.

Born in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Zaha moved to the London Borough of Croydon at the age of four and joined the Crystal Palace academy when he was just 12. Given his first-team debut at home to Cardiff City in March 2010, he signed a two-year professional contract with the club shortly afterwards.

He immediately made his impact on the Palace side and missed just two matches in the 2010-2011 season although one goal and two assists in all competitions suggested there was more to come from the gifted winger. In March 2012, he was voted the Football League’s Young Player of the Year and his real breakthrough came in the 2012-2013 season. Eight goals in 50 appearances in all competitions were a key component of a successful season for the south Londoners. It also won him international recognition from Roy Hodgson, who gave him his first of two England caps as a substitute against Sweden in November 2012.

Two months later, Zaha got his big money move to Manchester United. He would turn out to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s last-ever signing as Manchester United manager. United paid £10 million and immediately agreed to loan him back to Palace for the remainder of the campaign. He played a huge part in the Championship play-offs that season. Two goals in the semi-final against bitter rivals Brighton & Hove Albion took Crystal Palace to Wembley. In the final itself, he won the penalty for Kevin Phillips to score the only goal against Watford which guided Crystal Palace back to the Premier League.

Mission accomplished, Zaha was off for a shot in a big team but circumstances meant it wasn’t a period in his career he will want to remember. Ferguson had retired in May 2013 from first-team management and he was replaced by fellow Scot, David Moyes. He was rarely used by Moyes and didn’t make a Premier League appearance until coming off the bench in December 2013 when Manchester United were beaten 1-0 at home by Newcastle United.

Desperate to play, Zaha moved on-loan to Cardiff City in the January transfer window but failed to score in 12 appearances as Cardiff were relegated in their debut Premier League season. It was clear Zaha’s spell at Old Trafford had seen his confidence take a substantial knock. He later criticised Moyes for not being given a fair opportunity and also felt hurt about rumours online that he had been seeing Moyes’ daughter. He mentioned: “There were rumours about Moyes’ daughter from Twitter. It was weird. I was getting tortured for something I hadn’t done. I hadn’t even met her!”

Moyes was sacked in April after a dismal season but Zaha wouldn’t be staying under new manager Louis van Gaal. He was on his way back to his spiritual home of Crystal Palace, initially on-loan in August 2014 before the transfer became permanent in the 2015 January transfer window.

In his first match back, he scored a stoppage-time equaliser to rescue a point for Crystal Palace in a 3-3 draw with Newcastle United – Neil Warnock’s first match of his second spell as Eagles boss. Zaha was back and the fans loved it. He scored four times as Palace finished 10th in the table, including a goal with virtually his first touch as a substitute in Steven Gerrard’s farewell Liverpool FC match at Anfield in May 2015. In 2015-2016, he won Crystal Palace Player of the Year at the club’s end of season awards dinner. He also scored twice in the club’s run to the FA Cup final and featured in 34 Premier League matches.

His international future was cleared up later in 2016 when in November – frustrated at not getting competitive opportunities for England, Zaha elected to switch allegiances and represent the country of his birth, Cote d’Ivoire at international level. Despite Gareth Southgate’s best efforts, Zaha stuck to his principles and made his debut for his new country at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, although it was disappointing for the team as they were eliminated in the group stages.

In 2016-2017, his levels and end product drastically improved. He scored seven times which was his best goalscoring return for any season. Among the highlights was an early goal in the 4-0 victory over Hull City that confirmed Crystal Palace’s Premier League status for another season and relegated Hull in the process.

One criticism of Zaha has been his tendency to complain about a lack of protection from officials and his tendency to go to ground easily in the penalty area. After not winning a spot-kick against Watford on Boxing Day 2016, Watford’s mascot decided to mimic a dive infront of him at full-time. It didn’t go down well with the Palace hierarchy. Recent data published has shown Zaha is the second most fouled player in the Premier League in the last three seasons – only behind Eden Hazard in this statistic.

After injury saw a delayed start to 2017-2018, Zaha’s return to first-team action was well-timed. Hodgson was now Crystal Palace manager and determined to make Zaha the focal point of his team after missing out on using him more regularly at international level with England. In his first game back, he scored the winning goal against reigning champions Chelsea – the club’s first goals and win of the season.

In April 2018, he scored four times in the month and was given the Premier League Player of the Month award, including two goals – one was a rare header in a crucial 3-2 success over Brighton. He was voted as the club’s Player of the Year again for a third successive season, matching a feat only previously achieved by Julian Speroni.

2018-2019 began with a goal on the opening day at Fulham in a 2-0 win and in a 2-1 loss at Watford a fortnight later, Zaha scored his 24th Premier League goal for the club, which saw him overtake Chris Armstrong as the club’s most successful top-flight goalscorer. His recent form has seen him score crucial goals against both Leicester City and Burnley in priceless away victories that mean the club is looking at another mid-table finish this season.

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The Managers: Roy Hodgson

Premier League Clubs Managed: Blackburn Rovers (1997-1998), Fulham (2008-2010), Liverpool FC (2010-2011), West Bromwich Albion (2011-2012), Crystal Palace (2017-PRESENT)

Few in the management game have a CV that is as globalised as Roy Hodgson. He has managed 16 different teams in eight countries in a management career that has spanned over 40 years. It began in Sweden with Halmstads BK in 1976 and continues today as manager of Crystal Palace. Hodgson has also managed the Switzerland, Finland and England international teams, as well as the likes of Malmö FF, Inter Milan, Fulham, Udinese and Liverpool FC.

The Swedish connection

Roy Hodgson’s playing career wasn’t one filled with much success. He was in the youth setup at Crystal Palace but never quite broke through into the first-team. He spent time in the non-league with the likes of Tonbridge, Maidstone United and Gravesend & Northfleet. However, he was already into coaching and he started his managerial career in Sweden with Halmstads BK in the top-flight. His success there is considered as one of the biggest surprises in the history of Swedish football. When he took over, Halmstads were a team fighting against relegation on a regular basis but in his five seasons with them, he guided them to league championships in 1976 and 1979.

After an unhappy time in England with Bristol City which included a brief four-month spell as caretaker manager, he returned to Sweden in 1982, managing lower-league sides Oddevold and Örebro. In 1985, he took over at one of the biggest teams in the country and enjoyed his best win ratio rate of his career at Malmö. He led the team to five consecutive league championships and two Swedish Cups.

On the continental stage, the club’s biggest achievement was knocking out Italian champions Inter Milan in the first round of the 1989-1990 European Cup season, helped by drawing 1-1 at The San Siro. Malmö crashed out in the next round to Mechelen of Belgium. Due to his successful time with the club, he is still greatly appreciated by the supporters who have unofficially named a section of the stadium “Roy’s Hörna.”

Swiss factor

In July 1990, Roy moved to another country to manage, starting a five-year association with Switzerland. First up was unheralded club side Neuchatel Xamax, guiding them to third and fifth place finishes in his two seasons managing in the top-flight. In January 1992, Hodgson took over as manager of the national team, replacing Uli Stielike, who replaced Hodgson in the vacancy created by his departure from Neuchatel Xamax.

Switzerland had been absent from major international competition for nearly 30 years but under him, they qualified for the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States, coming ahead of Portugal and Scotland in a tricky qualification section. He also took the Swiss to their highest-ever position in the FIFA World Rankings of third.

With no home nation involvement, Roy was one of the few Englishman at the 1994 World Cup and his team were drawn into Group A, together with the hosts, Romania and highly-fancied Colombia. The opening match against the United States was the first World Cup game to be played indoors at The Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan. They drew that game 1-1 and finished runners-up in the group after an impressive 4-1 victory over Romania. Elimination followed in the round-of-16, losing 3-0 to Spain.

Under Hodgson’s tenure, they easily qualified for the 1996 European Championships, losing just once in 10 qualifying matches. However, Hodgson left after qualification was assured as he had already accepted a position as manager of Italian giants, Inter Milan. At Inter, he guided them away from relegation danger on his arrival to seventh place in 1995-1996 and third in 1996-1997. He managed the likes of Youri Djorkaeff, Paul Ince and Javier Zanetti on a run to the UEFA Cup final, where they played FC Schalke 04 in the final. It was the last year where the final was played over two legs and after two 1-0 home victories, the final went to penalties. Schalke triumphed and Inter fans were furious, pelting Hodgson with coins and lighters afterwards. It was his last match in-charge of the Italians and he returned to England for his first crack in the Premier League.

Blackburn downfall

Blackburn Rovers had won the Premier League title in 1995 but had slipped to 13th just two seasons later and Jack Walker had persuaded Hodgson to come to England and attempt to steer the Lancastrians back in the right direction. Things started well. Blackburn were second on Christmas Day 1997 and he won two Manager of the Month Awards in the process. In Chris Sutton, he had a player who knew where the back of the net was and his 18 goals meant he shared the Golden Boot with Dion Dublin and Michael Owen. Blackburn eventually finished in sixth place and qualified for the UEFA Cup.

His second season was unsuccessful. Numerous injuries, talk of unrest in the dressing room and the failure to find a suitable replacement for Scottish defender Colin Hendry, who had joined Rangers in the summer combined to a season of struggle. After a 2-0 home defeat to Southampton in November 1998, Blackburn dropped to the foot of the table. Moments after the game, Walker sacked Hodgson after Roy had refused the opportunity to resign. He later admitted: “To Blackburn’s honour, Jack Walker wanted me to resign; he wanted to still pay for the rest of my contract. I refused to do that, arrogant of course as I was in those days. I thought if they stuck with me I’d save them from relegation. I gave him no choice but to sack me.”

After Blackburn, he returned to Inter Milan as technical director before returning to Switzerland to coach Grasshoppers Zurich for a season. In October 2000, Kevin Keegan resigned as England manager and Hodgson was shortlisted for the job. However, he was ruled out of the running when he agreed to take over in Denmark at FC Copenhagen. In his one season with them, he guided them to their first Danish championship since 1993 and they won the Danish Supercup too. He left them in the summer of 2001 to take up a post with Udinese which lasted less than six months with the club only ninth in the table. He has admitted it was a mistake to leave Copenhagen for Udinese.

After spells managing the United Arab Emirates international team and Viking FK in Norway, he became the national coach of Finland in January 2006. Finland had never qualified for a major tournament and narrowly failed to qualify for EURO 2008, finishing fourth in their group with 24 points and only missing out on automatic qualification by just three points.

Then, it was back to English football in a slightly surprise appointment in west London.

Saving Fulham

In late December 2007, Hodgson accepted the post of manager of Fulham who were sitting 18th in the Premier League table and had mustered just two wins in the entire campaign. His first game in-charge ended in defeat to Chelsea and he immediately looked at strengthening the squad, with Brede Hangeland being one of his key signings. The pair had worked together at Viking FK. Initially, results did not improve. Fulham were dismissed out of the FA Cup on penalties by League One outfit Bristol Rovers and in his first 13 league matches, the Cottagers amassed a meagre nine points.

At half-time against Manchester City in April 2008, Fulham were 2-0 down and seemingly destined for relegation to the Championship but some galvanising words at half-time saw a stirring second half fightback. A late goal from Diomansy Kamara helped Fulham to a 3-2 victory and spearheaded a dramatic recovery. Wins over Birmingham City and Portsmouth in the final two games saw Hodgson’s side achieve unlikely survival at the expense of Reading and Birmingham.

In the summer of 2008, the experienced Mark Schwarzer arrived on a free transfer from Middlesbrough and Hodgson also completed a permanent move for Danny Murphy, signed teenage defender Chris Smalling and strikers Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson. He guided Fulham to a fantastic seventh place in the table which remains the club’s highest-ever finish in the top-flight and ensuring qualification for the new UEFA Europa League.

In 2009-2010, Fulham’s Premier League form was inconsistent throughout the campaign but Roy still enjoyed notable victories over Liverpool FC, Everton and Manchester United, collected two Manager of the Month Awards and a solid 12th place finish, just four points behind Birmingham City in ninth. The main attention of Fulham’s campaign was saved for their historic run in the UEFA Europa League. The Cottagers eliminated holders Shakhtar Donetsk, Italian superpowers Juventus, German champions VfL Wolfsburg and former European Cup winners Hamburger SV in the knockout rounds. The win over Hamburg took Fulham to a major European final for the first time in their 130-year history. They would visit Hamburg’s ground for the showpiece event against Atletico Madrid. The final went to extra time at 1-1 before Diego Forlan scored the winning goal for the Spaniards. It had been an epic run which ended in cruel disappointment.

After winning the LMA Manager of the Year by a record margin, Hodgson left Fulham in the summer of 2010 to take over the vacancy at Liverpool FC following the departure of Rafa Benitez.

Anfield villain turns Baggies hero

When Hodgson turned up at Anfield, it came against the backdrop of an unstable period. The club’s owners had put the Merseysiders up for sale and the takeover went through in mid-October during his reign. Also, news broke that club legend Kenny Dalglish had applied for the vacancy and been turned down. As soon as the faithful found this out, Hodgson was never going to win the supporters over.

Poor results didn’t help matters. Liverpool were knocked out of the League Cup on penalties at Anfield by League Two strugglers Northampton Town and a 2-1 home defeat by Blackpool in early October saw the club drop into the bottom three of the top-flight for the first time since September 1964. He admitted afterwards that Liverpool were potentially facing a relegation battle.

There was a 2-0 victory over league champions Chelsea and progress into the knockout rounds of the UEFA Europa League but more alarming displays and defeats to Stoke City, Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers left him on borrowed time. After a 3-1 reverse at former club Blackburn in early January, his ill-fated spell was brought to an end by John W. Henry. He won just seven out of his 20 Premier League matches and left with the club in 12th and just four points above the drop zone.

A month later, he was appointed as West Bromwich Albion boss, replacing Roberto Di Matteo. West Brom had the worst defensive record in the league, lost 13 of their previous 18 outings and were only outside the relegation zone on goal difference. He immediately tightened up the backline and five wins and five draws took the Baggies clear of any danger, finishing in a creditable 11th position.

He went one position better in 2011-2012 with some impressive away performances which included a 1-0 victory at Anfield and a 5-1 thrashing of Black Country rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers. Now, his national side was calling him. England needed a manager ahead of EURO 2012 and Roy answered the emergency call.

The England experience

After Fabio Capello had resigned as England manager in February 2012, it was widely anticipated that Harry Redknapp would take the job but FA chairman David Bernstein insisted only Hodgson had been approached for the position. He agreed a four-year contract.

England were just a month away from competing at the 2012 European Championships in Poland and Ukraine, so expectations were low going into the tournament. However, they won their group with two wins from three matches before bowing out to Italy via a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals.

The Three Lions then produced an unbeaten qualification campaign for the 2014 World Cup finals and Hodgson was praised for giving several youngsters and newcomers a chance in the international setup. The likes of Andros Townsend, Adam Lallana, Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Rodriguez all won their maiden caps during his tenure in the international post. The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was a major disappointment. Defeats to Italy and Uruguay saw England eliminated before the first week of the competition was complete. A dire goalless draw with Costa Rica ensured England finished bottom of Group D. Whilst the group was one of the toughest, a total of one point was not good enough for all concerned within the England setup.

Worse was to come at the 2016 European Championships. England went into the tournament considered as one of the favourites to go into the latter stages, especially after a stirring friendly victory in Berlin over Germany a few months before the competition got underway in France. However, it never seemed like he knew his best line-up, his best tactical system and he stayed far too loyal to underperforming players. Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling were among those to have a terrible individual tournament. Having been beaten to top spot in the group by Wales, England put in a diabolical performance in the round-of-16 match against Iceland. England led but lost the lead through poor tactics at a throw-in and a goalkeeping error. Iceland won the game 2-1 to provide Hodgson with his biggest humiliation in his career. He promptly resigned shortly after the full-time whistle.

Revival at Palace

After a year on the sidelines to reflect on the Iceland defeat, Hodgson came back from what appeared to be the managerial scrapheap to take charge of his boyhood club, Crystal Palace. Palace were in big trouble, having lost their first four matches without scoring a goal and had sacked Frank de Boer. Although he lost his first three matches by a margin of 10-0, a surprising 2-1 victory over league champions Chelsea in October 2017 started a revival in form.

No team had previously survived relegation from the top-flight after losing their first seven games but a revitalised Palace achieved this feat fairly comfortably. Leicester City were beaten 5-0 for the club’s biggest-ever Premier League victory and they eventually finished 11th, just one place below their best Premier League finish of 10th, achieved during Alan Pardew’s tenure in 2014-2015.

It looks like the Eagles will be involved again in a relegation battle in 2018-2019 but recent home victories over Burnley and Leicester City suggest the club are finding their best form at Selhurst Park again and with Hodgson’s experience in the game, they will always feel confident of achieving the minimum target every season which is survival and plenty more top-flight football to come in south-east London.

The Clubs: Crystal Palace

All statistics correct upto 9th January 2019

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
368 103 93 175 393 537 -144 402 10

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Joel Ward 162
Jason Puncheon 153
Wilfried Zaha 147
James McArthur 143
Damien Delaney 130
Scott Dann 123
Wayne Hennessey 105
Yohan Cabaye 96
Andros Townsend 93
Martin Kelly 92

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Wilfried Zaha 25
Chris Armstrong 23
Andy Johnson 21
Christian Benteke 18
Luka Milivojevic 18
James McArthur 16
Dwight Gayle 15
Jason Puncheon 15
Scott Dann 12
Yannick Bolasie 9

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Crystal Palace 5-0 Leicester City 28th April 2018 2017-2018
Crystal Palace 5-1 Newcastle United 28th November 2015 2015-2016
Crystal Palace 4-0 Hull City 14th May 2017 2016-2017
Crystal Palace 4-1 Middlesbrough 12th April 1993 1992-1993
Coventry City 1-4 Crystal Palace 2nd November 1994 1994-1995
Sunderland 1-4 Crystal Palace 11th April 2015 2014-2015
Crystal Palace 4-1 Stoke City 18th September 2016 2016-2017
Crystal Palace 3-0 Ipswich Town 5th November 1994 1994-1995
Crystal Palace 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur 22nd January 2005 2004-2005
Cardiff City 0-3 Crystal Palace 5th April 2014 2013-2014

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Crystal Palace 1-6 Liverpool FC 20th August 1994 1994-1995
Liverpool FC 5-0 Crystal Palace 28th November 1992 1992-1993
Manchester City 5-0 Crystal Palace 6th May 2017 2016-2017
Manchester City 5-0 Crystal Palace 23rd September 2017 2017-2018
Chelsea 6-2 Crystal Palace 11th March 1998 1997-1998
Arsenal 5-1 Crystal Palace 14th February 2005 2004-2005
Wimbledon 4-0 Crystal Palace 9th April 1993 1992-1993
Everton 4-0 Crystal Palace 10th April 2005 2004-2005
Manchester City 4-0 Crystal Palace 16th January 2016 2015-2016
Crystal Palace 0-4 Sunderland 4th February 2017 2016-2017

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Steve Coppell 1 17th May 1993
Alan Smith 1 15th May 1995
Steve Coppell 1 13th March 1998
Iain Dowie 1 22nd May 2006
Ian Holloway 1 23rd October 2013
Tony Pulis 1 14th August 2014
Neil Warnock 1 27th December 2014
Alan Pardew 3 22nd December 2016
Sam Allardyce 1 23rd May 2017
Frank de Boer 1 11th September 2017
Roy Hodgson 2  

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United 21st April 1993 30,115 1992-1993
Crystal Palace 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur 23rd January 2016 28,467 2015-2016
Crystal Palace 1-1 Arsenal 6th November 2004 26,193 2004-2005
Crystal Palace 0-3 Chelsea 13th September 1997 26,186 1997-1998
Crystal Palace 0-0 Arsenal 18th October 1997 26,180 1997-1998
Crystal Palace 0-3 Manchester United 27th April 1998 26,180 1997-1998
Crystal Palace 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur 28th March 1998 26,116 1997-1998
Crystal Palace 1-2 Newcastle United 29th November 1997 26,085 1997-1998
Crystal Palace 2-2 Southampton 7th May 2005 26,066 2004-2005
Crystal Palace 1-0 Liverpool FC 23rd April 2005 26,043 2004-2005

 

Intro

Crystal Palace’s first four Premier League campaigns ended with the same outcome in all of them – relegation from the top-flight. The Eagles have become a sterner and secure outfit since their latest promotion in 2013, although they are often a feature in the survival battle in most seasons. Their best campaign was a 10th place finish under Alan Pardew’s stewardship in 2014-2015 although Roy Hodgson’s achievement to keep them up last season from a position of no goals and no points after seven matches has to be considered extremely highly.

 

1992-1993

Founder members of the Premier League, Crystal Palace struggled to score goals throughout the season after selling Mark Bright in August to Sheffield Wednesday. Palace made a desperate start, winning just once (2-0 away at Everton) in their first 17 matches. However, a run of seven wins in their next 11 games took them closer to mid-table. However, although there were impressive home victories over relegation rivals Crystal Palace and Ipswich Town, the Eagles were relegated on the final day after a 3-0 defeat at Highbury against Arsenal, whilst Oldham beat Southampton 4-3. Steve Coppell resigned after relegation and was replaced by his assistant, Alan Smith.

 

1994-1995

After winning the First Division, Crystal Palace made an immediate return to the top-flight but made a nightmare start, as they were thrashed 6-1 at home by Liverpool FC on the opening day. Alan Smith signed Ray Wilkins to add experience to his midfield but he played just once for the club and left in November to take a managerial role at former club Queens Park Rangers. The Eagles made the semi-finals of both domestic cup competitions but scored just 34 times in 42 league matches which was the lowest tally in the Premier League. Despite the best efforts of Chris Armstrong, Chris Coleman and Gareth Southgate, Palace were relegated on the final day again – this time after failing to beat Newcastle United at St James’ Park.

 

1997-1998

Hopes were high for Crystal Palace’s third Premier League season after the exciting acquisition in pre-season of Italian Attilio Lombardo from Juventus. Lombardo’s experience saw the club become one of the best away sides in the division, spearheading them to outstanding victories away at Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday and Tottenham Hotspur. In late November, they were 10th in the table. However, they didn’t win any of their next 16 matches and slipped back into relegation trouble. Not helped by constant rumours of a takeover by computer tycoon Mark Goldberg and a desperate home record with just two victories all term at Selhurst Park, the club were relegated again from the top-flight on 27th April after a 3-0 home defeat to Manchester United.

 

2004-2005

It was more final day heartache for the Eagles supporters in 2004-2005 as a 2-2 draw away at Charlton Athletic wasn’t enough to keep them in the top-flight because of West Brom’s home victory over Portsmouth. Iain Dowie’s side won just seven league games but did record notable home victories over Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur, whilst Andy Johnson scored 21 goals as he finished runner-up to Thierry Henry in the race for the Golden Boot.

 

2013-2014

After an eight-year absence, Crystal Palace returned to the Premier League but made a terrible start, losing seven of their first eight matches. Following a 4-1 home loss by Fulham in October, Ian Holloway resigned and was replaced by Tony Pulis. Pulis immediately made the team harder to beat and the Eagles climbed away comfortably from danger to avoid relegation for the first time in their Premier League history. This included a five-match winning run in April as they finished a brilliant 11th.

 

2014-2015

Pre-season plans were thrown in total disarray when after disagreements over the direction of the club with owner Steve Parish, Tony Pulis abruptly resigned just two days before the campaign was due to start. Neil Warnock returned to the club as his successor but just three wins from 18 matches saw the Eagles in the bottom three at Christmas. After a 3-1 defeat to Southampton on Boxing Day, Warnock was the first managerial casualty of the campaign. Parish then pursued and successfully tempted Alan Pardew away from Newcastle United to return to his former club. Pardew galvanised the Eagles to a 10th place finish as they ended as one of the form teams in the second half of the campaign which included a 2-1 home win over champions Manchester City in April.

 

2015-2016

The excellent end to 2014-2015 continued in the first half of the 2015-2016 campaign. The likes of Yohan Cabaye arrived and Wilfried Zaha by now had returned on a permanent basis to his first club. Palace were sixth on New Years’ Day and only a few points off the top four positions. They also became only the second club to defeat Jose Mourinho at home in the Premier League when the Eagles won 2-1 early season at Stamford Bridge. However, a 3-0 reverse to the faltering champions in January started a nightmare run of form that dragged them into relegation danger.

Late season victories over Norwich City and Stoke City kept them safe but a 15th place finish was a major disappointment for everyone connected with the club. The saving grace was a run to the FA Cup final but despite taking the lead against Manchester United, they lost the showpiece event 2-1 after extra time.

 

2016-2017

Alan Pardew was a man under pressure going into 2016-2017 and despite breaking the club’s transfer record to sign Christian Benteke from Liverpool FC, he couldn’t revitalise the Eagles. Just four wins from 17 games and he was sacked just before Christmas and replaced by Sam Allardyce, who was available after his short reign as England boss. Allardyce did the job required, got Benteke scoring, tightened the backline up and wins over Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool FC in the last couple of months kept them once again in the Premier League. They finished 14th but Allardyce quit at the end of the season.

 

2017-2018

It was Frank de Boer who succeeded Allardyce but a lack of summer investment and no wins from their opening four matches saw him sacked in mid-September after just 10 weeks in the post. Roy Hodgson returned to his boyhood club but started with three successive defeats. After seven games, the club had no goals, no wins and no points but a 2-1 victory over champions Chelsea was the galvanising lift everyone needed. Crystal Palace remained in relegation trouble for much of the season but always looked like they would have enough in the playing squad, helped by Zaha’s best-ever season in the Premier League and 10 goals from midfielder Luka Milivojevic. In the end, they finished 11th and a 5-0 win at home to Leicester City at the end of April became the club’s biggest-ever Premier League victory.

 

2018-2019

Crystal Palace’s 113th season of existence began with an opening day 2-0 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage. Hodgson’s side struggled to sustain any consistency in the first four months of the season but they are going in the right direction after wins in December over Burnley, Leicester City and more recently, a surprising and deserving 3-2 victory away at champions Manchester City, helped by a Goal of the Season contender from Andros Townsend.

The Clubs: Fulham

All-Time Premier League Record

(Upto start of the 2018-2019 season)
Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
494 150 136 208 570 697 -127 586 13

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Brede Hangeland 217
Aaron Hughes 196
Clint Dempsey 189
Steed Malbranque 172
Mark Schwarzer 172
Danny Murphy 169
Luis Boa Morte 166
Zat Knight 150
Brian McBride 140
Simon Davies 137

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Clint Dempsey 50
Steed Malbranque 32
Brian McBride 32
Luis Boa Morte 26
Louis Saha 26
Collins John 20
Bobby Zamora 20
Dimitar Berbatov 19
Danny Murphy 18
Damien Duff 15

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Fulham 6-0 Norwich City 15th May 2005 2004-2005
Fulham 6-0 Queens Park Rangers 2nd October 2011 2011-2012
Fulham 6-1 West Bromwich Albion 11th February 2006 2005-2006
Fulham 5-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 4th March 2012 2011-2012
Fulham 5-0 Norwich City 18th August 2012 2012-2013
Fulham 5-2 Newcastle United 21st January 2012 2011-2012
Fulham 4-1 Bolton Wanderers 17th August 2002 2002-2003
Newcastle United 1-4 Fulham 7th November 2004 2004-2005
Crystal Palace 1-4 Fulham 21st October 2013 2013-2014
Fulham 3-0 Bolton Wanderers 23rd April 2002 2001-2002

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Hull City 6-0 Fulham 28th December 2013 2013-2014
Fulham 0-5 Manchester United 21st December 2011 2011-2012
Manchester City 5-0 Fulham 22nd March 2014 2013-2014
Liverpool FC 5-1 Fulham 15th March 2006 2005-2006
Manchester United 5-1 Fulham 20th August 2006 2006-2007
Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Fulham 26th December 2007 2007-2008
Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Fulham 15th December 2001 2001-2002
Fulham 0-4 Blackburn Rovers 7th April 2003 2002-2003
Fulham 0-4 Arsenal 4th March 2006 2005-2006
Liverpool FC 4-0 Fulham 9th December 2006 2006-2007

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Jean Tigana 2 16th April 2003
Chris Coleman 5 10th April 2007
Lawrie Sanchez 2 21st December 2007
Roy Hodgson 3 30th June 2010
Mark Hughes 1 29th June 2011
Martin Jol 3 1st December 2013
Rene Meulensteen 1 13th February 2014
Felix Magath 1 18th September 2014
Slavisa Jokanovic 1

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Fulham 1-2 Aston Villa 11th February 2004 28,500 2003-2004
Fulham 1-1 West Bromwich Albion 1st February 2012 27,689 2011-2012
Fulham 0-1 Arsenal 26th September 2009 25,700 2009-2010
Fulham 3-1 Liverpool FC 31st October 2009 25,700 2009-2010
Fulham 3-0 Manchester United 19th December 2009 25,700 2009-2010
Fulham 1-1 Aston Villa 6th November 2010 25,700 2010-2011
Fulham 1-4 Manchester City 21st November 2010 25,700 2010-2011
Fulham 0-0 Aston Villa 13th August 2011 25,700 2011-2012
Fulham 0-5 Manchester United 21st December 2011 25,700 2011-2012
Fulham 2-1 Arsenal 2nd January 2012 25,700 2011-2012

 

Intro

Fulham enjoyed 13 seasons in the Premier League between 2001 and 2014. The Cottagers were guided into the big time by the owner of Harrods, Mohammed Al Fayed and he ensured the club remained a stable figure in their first decade at this level, which peaked with a seventh-place finish in 2009 under Roy Hodgson’s stewardship. They slipped out of the top-flight after a messy 2013-2014 campaign which saw three managers fail to guide them out of danger. However, after four seasons away, they returned to the promise land in-time for the 2018-2019 campaign.

 

2001-2002

Fulham’s 104th season in professional football was their first in the Premier League. They were led into this new environment by Jean Tigana, who had guided them to the First Division title in the previous season.

Among the high-profile arrivals was Dutch no.1 goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar from Juventus and owner Mohammed Al Fayed even boasted they could win the title! It was a totally unrealistic ambition but it gave fans the chance to dream. In the end, the Cottagers coped well in their debut season and finished in a solid, if slightly unspectacular 13th place in the final standings. They also reached the FA Cup semi-finals before losing to west London rivals Chelsea.

 

2002-2003

With Craven Cottage requiring redevelopment work to fit Premier League safety requirements, Fulham began this season in a temporary home, ground-sharing for two seasons with Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.

Four wins in their first eight games including a dramatic comeback from 2-0 down to beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 had them flying high in fourth but the league campaign quickly nosedived and contract disagreements between Al Fayed and Tigana led to the Frenchman’s abrupt departure in April 2003. Former skipper of the club, Chris Coleman, took charge on a caretaker basis and steered Fulham to safety and his 10-point haul from five games was enough to give him the job permanently.

Fulham finished 14th, just six points clear of safety but did experience a European campaign for the first time through success in the Intertoto Cup. They reached round three of the UEFA Cup before bowing out to Hertha Berlin.

 

2003-2004

Now the youngest manager in the top-flight, Chris Coleman impressed greatly in his first full season. The Welshman took Fulham into the top half of the table for the first time in their Premier League life, finishing in ninth position.

The Cottagers enjoyed a fabulous 3-1 victory at Old Trafford in October and a starring performance from Edwin van der Sar kept Arsenal out at Highbury a month later. Coleman had to deal with the blow of losing top goalscorer Louis Saha in the January transfer window to Manchester United but the west Londoners finished just four points shy of fifth-placed Newcastle United and with a positive goal difference.

 

2004-2005

With the likes of Andy Cole, Claus Jensen and Tomasz Radzinski arriving in the summer of 2004 and a return to Craven Cottage on the horizon, hopes were high for Fulham to build on their impressive 2003-2004 season. It didn’t quite materialise like that as Coleman found out how tough life was at the highest level.

Fulham finished eight points and four positions lower than their 2003-2004 tallies but were in no relegation danger throughout and their 6-0 thumping of Norwich City on the final day ultimately relegated the Norfolk side.

 

2005-2006

Fulham’s home form ensured another mid-table finish. They won 13 of their 19 matches at Craven Cottage with champions Chelsea and Liverpool FC among their victims. Unfortunately, they were restricted to a 12th place finish because of a diabolical away record.

Coleman’s team mustered just one away victory all season (2-1 at Manchester City) in April, whilst they were one of only three sides to lose during the season to bottom-placed Sunderland.

 

2006-2007

Despite a 5-1 loss on the opening weekend to Manchester United, Fulham started the season well, taking eight points from their next four matches. That was despite losing their big summer signing, Jimmy Bullard to a horrific knee injury in a 2-1 away win at Newcastle United.

The success on Tyneside was Fulham’s only victory on the road and a ghastly run of one win in 18 Premier League matches saw Chris Coleman sacked in mid-April after a 3-1 home loss to Manchester City. Lawrie Sanchez replaced him, dovetailing his commitments with Northern Ireland and he managed to secure their Premier League status after a 1-0 victory over an under-strength Liverpool FC side in their final home match of the season. Sanchez was given a three-year permanent contract in the summer.

 

2007-2008

2007 was a shocking calendar year for Fulham. Just four league victories across the 12 months and a fortune squandered in the transfer market by Lawrie Sanchez saw them really struggling to avoid relegation. Fulham parted company with Sanchez after a 1-0 home defeat to Newcastle United in mid-December and in came Roy Hodgson for his first managerial appointment in England in nine years.

There wasn’t an instant bounce, despite Bullard returning from his knee injury and scoring in a win over Aston Villa. There were just two wins in Hodgson’s first 13 league matches and when Sunderland won 3-1 at Craven Cottage in early April, Fulham looked doomed. Then, they produced their version of ‘The Great Escape.’

They won four of their last six matches, including a dramatic comeback victory at Manchester City when Diomansy Kamara fired home an injury-time winner. On the final day, Danny Murphy’s header defeated Portsmouth at Fratton Park and ensured Fulham’s safety; ensuring victories for Reading and Birmingham City were made academic. It remains one of the greatest survival stories in Premier League history.

 

2008-2009

Fulham were one of the success stories of the season and qualified for the newly-titled UEFA Europa League by finishing in a stunning seventh-place in the table. Hodgson inspired an improvement of 18 points and 10 places on the previous campaign.

Despite club captain Brian McBride leaving in the summer, the arrivals of Mark Schwarzer and Bobby Zamora made the Cottagers a more exciting and secure side. There were fantastic home victories over Arsenal and Manchester United and their position could have been higher but for their Achilles heel to strike again. Hodgson’s side scored just 11 goals away from home and mustered only three victories from 19 away games.

 

2009-2010

The 2009-2010 season was all about Fulham’s incredible journey in the UEFA Europa League. They produced some outstanding performances on the continent to knock out the likes of Serie A heavyweights Juventus, reigning holders Shakhtar Donetsk and Bundesliga champions VfL Wolfsburg.

After defeating Hamburger SV in the semi-finals, Fulham reached Hamburg’s stadium for the final against Atletico Madrid. They matched the Spanish giants throughout the contest but were agonisingly beaten in extra-time by Diego Forlan as Atletico won 2-1.

It was another solid season in the Premier League with 11 victories on home soil including a 3-0 rout of Manchester United in mid-December. They finished in 12th place but lost manager Roy Hodgson in the summer. The newly-crowned LMA Manager of the Year would take the vacancy at Liverpool FC.

 

2010-2011

Hodgson’s replacement as Fulham manager was the former Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City boss, Mark Hughes. Despite drawing 16 games in the Premier League, it was a successful season for Hughes and Fulham as the club finished eighth, the second-highest position in their Premier League history. It was a good recovery as the Cottagers ended Boxing Day in the bottom three after a 3-1 home defeat to bottom club West Ham United.

Hughes resigned though shortly after the season concluded, citing differences in the club’s direction for his decision.

 

2011-2012

It was Martin Jol who was the new manager for the start of the 2011-2012 campaign and Fulham enjoyed a couple of huge victories, beating west London rivals Queens Park Rangers 6-0 in October and Wolverhampton Wanderers 5-0 in March.

Fulham also managed to record a league double over Liverpool FC and inflicted a 5-2 loss on Newcastle United in January. Jol’s side finished in the top 10 again, coming ninth and with a better points tally than the previous season. They were helped by 16 goals from the outstanding Clint Dempsey, who filled the void vacated by Zamora who moved to QPR in the January transfer window.

 

2012-2013

Fulham’s 12th successive Premier League campaign did see them finish 12th but it flattered to deceive what was a concerning campaign for the hierarchy at Craven Cottage. A 3-0 final day victory at Swansea helped Martin Jol’s side leap up three positions in the final standings. Conceding 60 goals was a real worry but Dimitar Berbatov was a successful signing. The Bulgarian scored 15 times in his first season with the west Londoners after joining from Manchester United.

 

2013-2014

With the worst defensive record in the division, it was no surprise to see Fulham relegated on the penultimate weekend of the season. They shipped 85 goals, won just nine games and went through three managers as their 13-year stay in England’s top-flight ended rather meekly.

Martin Jol started the campaign but looked a man under pressure from an early stage and a 3-0 loss to West Ham at the end of November saw him pay the price with his job. Former Manchester United coach, Rene Meulensteen was given the job but he was dismissed in mid-February. He managed just three wins in 13 games, presiding over their worst-ever Premier League defeat too, being beaten 6-0 by Hull City in December.

Former VfL Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich manager Felix Magath came in far too late to save the sinking ship and a 4-1 defeat to Stoke condemned them to relegation in a season of nightmarish dreams for the supporters.

 

2018-2019

After beating Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final at Wembley Stadium, Fulham returned to the Premier League for the start of the 2018-2019 season. Over £100 million was spent in the summer transfer window, with the likes of Alfie Mawson, Andre Schurrle and Jean-Michel Serri among the new recruits.

They started with back-to-back defeats before overcoming Burnley 4-2. Serri’s first strike saw him win the first Goal of the Month vote from Match of the Day viewers for the season. A 2-2 draw away at Brighton ensured Fulham’s first away point of the season. It is early days but the Cottagers look set for an exciting campaign back in the top-flight.

Iconic Moments: Palace’s gamble backfires (September 2017)

After guiding another club to survival in May 2017, Sam Allardyce elected to step down as Crystal Palace manager, insisting his time as a club manager was over. Of course, ‘Big Sam’ wouldn’t be finished just yet. Owner Steve Parish turned to Frank de Boer to fill the vacancy at Selhurst Park.

As a player, de Boer’s CV is really impressive. He won league championships with Barcelona and Ajax and was part of Louis van Gaal’s squad at the latter that won the UEFA Champions League in 1995. In management, he’d enjoyed title success at Ajax too but had a dismal time in Italy, lasting less than three months in the Inter Milan job in 2016.

His appointment at Selhurst Park was a gamble that spectacularly backfired. The Eagles were woeful on the opening day, being heavily beaten 3-0 by Premier League newcomers Huddersfield Town. Further losses followed to Liverpool FC and Swansea City and the pressure was already on the Dutchman. His ambitious style of football he wanted his players to play wasn’t working. They had been used to Allardyce’s style and the methods between the pair were vast to say the least.

After the August international break, Crystal Palace tumbled to a 1-0 defeat at Turf Moor against Burnley. With four games played, no points and not even a single goal scored, Parish decided to admit to his error in judgement. De Boer was dismissed after just 10 weeks in the job. His reign is the shortest in Premier League history. Jose Mourinho later labelled him as “the worst manager in Premier League history.”

With statistics like de Boer achieved, it’s hard not to disagree with this sentiment but the story had a happy ending for Eagles supporters. Roy Hodgson came in and steered the club comfortably to safety. They finished a commendable 11th, considering they lost their first seven matches without scoring a single goal.

Shock Results: Crystal Palace 2-1 Chelsea (October 2017)

Goalscorers: Cesar Azpilicueta 11 OG, Tiemoue Bakayoko 18, Wilfried Zaha 45

Teams:

Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni, Scott Dann, Mamadou Sakho, Patrick van Aanholt, Joel Ward, Yohan Cabaye (Jairo Riedewald 86), Luka Milivojevic, James McArthur (Timothy Fosu-Mensah 85), Jeff Schlupp (Jason Puncheon 75), Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha

Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso, Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Victor Moses (Davide Zappacosta 39), Tiemoue Bakayoko, Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, Willian (Charly Musonda 65), Michy Batshuayi (Pedro 57)

Referee: Andre Marriner, Attendance: 25,480

Crystal Palace looked in dire straits at the start of October 2017. Seven games into their campaign and the Eagles had made the worst start ever in Premier League history. Seven defeats, no points earned and not even a goal scored. Their situation seemed hopeless already. Frank de Boer had been sacked just four games into his reign, replaced by Roy Hodgson. Hodgson had a reputation to repair himself. He had been out of work since England’s humiliating exit in the 2016 European Championships at the hands of Iceland. The chance to revive Palace’s fortunes and put himself back on the managerial map was too good to turn down.

After the October international break, Selhurst Park was packed to welcome the visit of league champions Chelsea. Antonio Conte’s side had recovered well from a shock opening day loss at home to Burnley and were boasting a 100% away record following fine victories away at Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and Stoke City. The Blues were widely anticipated to keep that record going.

After 641 goalless minutes at the start of the season, Crystal Palace finally registered a goal to take a surprising early lead. Andros Townsend picked out Yohan Cabaye who showed great persistence in the penalty area, causing havoc which Chelsea’s defenders couldn’t deal with. David Luiz panicked and the ball eventually came off his teammate Cesar Azpilicueta and rebounded into the back of the net. It set the tone for an uncomfortable afternoon for the reigning champions.

Conte’s side were missing the energy of N’Golo Kante, who had been injured playing for France during the international break and it showed. However, his replacement did provide the equaliser. Tiemoue Bakayoko escaped his markers to guide home a corner from his central midfield partner, Cesc Fabregas. However, Chelsea’s front three of Michy Batshuayi, Willian and Eden Hazard failed to seriously test Julian Speroni on a regular basis.

It was another Palace returnee who would ultimately score the winner. Wilfried Zaha had been out of action since the opening day of the season but he returned with perfect timing. On the stroke of half-time, he escaped Azpilicueta’s challenge and slotted the ball beyond Thibaut Courtois.

Despite enjoying 60% of possession and piling the pressure on in the second half, Conte’s side couldn’t find a way through. He experienced back-to-back defeats for only the second time as a Premier League manager. Palace were finally off the mark for both goals and points. Their season finally had lift-off, thanks to the management guile of Hodgson and the skill of Zaha, who proved to be their integral matchwinner throughout the 2017-2018 season.

Premier League Rewind: 30th August-1st September 1997

Results: Arsenal 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa 1-0 Leeds United, Chelsea 4-2 Southampton, Crystal Palace 1-2 Blackburn Rovers, Derby County 1-0 Barnsley, Manchester United 3-0 Coventry City, Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Leicester City, West Ham United 3-1 Wimbledon, Liverpool FC P-P Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers 0-0 Everton

The 1997-1998 season saw an action-packed August as the majority of teams played five games in the opening month of the campaign. Nine games took place on the final weekend of the month and 19 goals were scored. The tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales in the early hours of Sunday, 31st August 1997 led to the postponement of the match at Anfield between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United.

The early season pacesetters were current champions Manchester United and the former winners of the Premier League, Blackburn Rovers. Blackburn had largely been in the doldrums since winning the title in 1995 but looked like a revitalised side under the guidance of the former Inter Milan coach, Roy Hodgson. They were scoring goals for fun too, netting 13 in their first four matches. Their fourth win in five games came at Selhurst Park over newly-promoted Crystal Palace. First half goals from Kevin Gallacher and Chris Sutton spearheaded Blackburn to a 2-1 victory and therefore, top spot at the end of August on goal difference.

Manchester United’s start to the season had been business-like. They’d scored eight times in their first five games and Peter Schmeichel hadn’t conceded a goal yet. Coventry City were the latest side to feel the punch of the Red Devils. Andy Cole, new skipper Roy Keane and Karel Poborsky were on the scoresheet as the home side eased to a 3-0 victory.

Another team who had made a strong side to the season were West Ham United. Harry Redknapp’s side won a London Derby at Upton Park against Wimbledon, winning 3-1. All the goals came in the second half, with West Ham’s three goals arriving in a seven-minute period through John Hartson, Marc Rieper and Eyal Berkovic.

The Hammers moved above Arsenal who were held to a goalless draw at Highbury in the North London Derby by Tottenham Hotspur. It would turn out to be Gerry Francis’ final North London Derby match in-charge of Spurs and he left having lost just one of seven encounters against the enemy from Highbury.

Another goalless came would be a controversial one between Bolton Wanderers and Everton. It was Bolton’s first game at their new state-of-the-art ground, The Reebok Stadium. During the second half, referee Stephen Lodge failed to spot that Gerry Taggart’s header had fallen six inches beyond the goal-line when it was hooked away by Everton defender Terry Phelan. This came at a time when goal-line technology was only a pipe dream. Come the end of the season, the teams would finish level on points with Everton above Bolton on goal difference. They survived, Bolton were relegated. It was a cruel twist come the end of the 1997-1998 campaign.

Aston Villa had made a rotten start to the campaign, losing their first four matches, having only scored twice. Brian Little’s side finally got off the scoreboard with a 1-0 victory against Leeds United. Dwight Yorke scored the only goal to inflict a third defeat in a week on Leeds. Another side who achieved their first victory was fellow Midlands side Derby County, beating Barnsley 1-0. However, they were only playing their third match of the season and their first game at their new home, Pride Park which completed the whole 90 minutes.

What else happened in August 1997?

  • The United Kingdom is left in mourning by the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales. She is killed in a car crash in Paris, along with her companion Dodi Al-Fayed when the Mercedes she was travelling in crashes in a tunnel whilst trying to escape some paparazzi photographers.
  • Steve Jobs returns to Apple Computers, whilst Microsoft buys a $150 million share of the financially-troubled giant.
  • Korean Air Flight 801 crashes while attempting to land in the United States territory of Guam, killing hundreds of passengers.
  • Former Grandstand presenter Helen Rollason is diagnosed with cancer and will undergo emergency surgery.
  • The controversial animated sitcom ‘South Park’ debuts on Comedy Central.
  • Britpop band Oasis continue to break music records. Their third album, ‘Be Here Now’, becomes the fastest selling album in UK history.

Shock Results: Liverpool FC 0-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers (December 2010)

Goalscorers: Stephen Ward 56

Teams:

Liverpool FC: Pepe Reina, Paul Konchesky (Fabio Aurelio 73), Sotirios Krygiakos, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Lucas, Raul Meireles (Joe Cole 73), Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt, David Ngog (Ryan Babel 62), Fernando Torres

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Wayne Hennessey, Christophe Berra, George Elokobi, Richard Stearman, Stephen Ward (Steven Fletcher 78), Ronald Zubar, Kevin Foley, Nenad Milijas, Stephen Hunt, Matt Jarvis (Dave Edwards 89), Sylvan Ebanks-Blake

Referee: Peter Walton, Attendance: 41,614

The final Premier League match of the 2010 calendar year came at Anfield where the storm clouds were hanging over the 18-time English champions. Liverpool FC were in no form, having only won two matches since early November and they were likely to head into 2011 in the bottom half.

However, few gave Wolverhampton Wanderers much of a chance in terms of getting a result. Mick McCarthy’s side turned up on Merseyside bottom of the table following a Boxing Day defeat at home to relegation rivals Wigan Athletic. Wolves also were playing their second game in three days, whilst two successive postponements due to freezing weather meant this was Liverpool’s first league match in 18 days.

Under-fire Roy Hodgson could welcome Steven Gerrard back to his ranks after injury had sidelined him for the last six weeks. However, not even the inspirational captain could fire the Reds up as they lacked any creative spark all evening. The first half of this match was cagey, much to the chagrin of the home supporters. The only shot of any note came from Raul Meireles but his strike was hit straight at Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey without any severe pace.

The visitors looked comfortable as they chased down a first win at Anfield in 27 years and as the second half began, they grew in confidence. Defender Ronald Zubar forced Pepe Reina into the first significant save of either goalkeeper on the night. Then, the home crowd’s frustration turned to a sense of boiling anger 11 minutes into the second half. Sylvain Ebanks-Blake threaded a ball past the Liverpool central defenders. Full-back Stephen Ward had timed his run superbly and kept his composure to slide the ball past the advancing Reina in his 200th Premier League appearance. It wasn’t going to be one for the Spaniard to celebrate.

Hodgson looked like a beleaguered manager who knew results needed to improve and quickly. He brought on Joe Cole and Ryan Babel in a vain attempt to find the spark missing. However, with Gerrard lacking match fitness, Dirk Kuyt looking uncomfortable in a left-wing role and Fernando Torres showing little sign of the world-class form he’d demonstrated previously, Liverpool rarely threatened to spoil Wolves’ evening.

They did have the ball in the net two minutes from time as Martin Skrtel connected perfectly with Gerrard’s free-kick. However, replays showed several LFC players including the goalscorer were standing in offside positions.  At the full-time whistle, it was the visiting supporters celebrating in delirium at their first away win of the season.

Hodgson lasted 10 more days before leaving the Liverpool post after a miserable six months in-charge. He was replaced by Kenny Dalglish, who steered the club to sixth position come the season’s end. Wolves went on to beat reigning champions Chelsea and Manchester United and it was these results against the top teams that ultimately protected their top-flight status for another season.

Premier League Files: Bobby Zamora

Bobby Zamora’s career took its time to really get going but he represented all of his Premier League teams with great loyalty and desire to succeed. His best spell was with Fulham where he helped Roy Hodgson’s side to a UEFA Europa League final in 2010 and earned himself international recognition from Fabio Capello and England. A lifelong West Ham United fan, he would spend five seasons as a player for the club he grew up supporting and was often a scorer of some spectacular goals.

He started his Football League career as a trainee with Bristol Rovers in 1999 and made a few sporadic first-team appearances before going out on-loan to first Bath City, then Brighton & Hove Albion. He made an immediate impact at Brighton, scoring six goals in six matches during a three-month loan spell in 2000. This encouraged the Seagulls’ to sign him permanently for the 2000-2001 season. He would score 83 times in 136 appearances, breaking into the England Under-21 setup during this time and helping Brighton towards the second-tier of English football with back-to-back promotions.

Several Premier League clubs had been monitoring Zamora very closely, particularly Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs paid Brighton £1.5 million in July 2003 to take Bobby to White Hart Lane. He was one of Glenn Hoddle’s prime targets that summer. However, the manager was sacked in September 2003 after a poor start to the campaign which saw Tottenham winning only one of their first six games. Zamora struggled to settle too, scoring just once in 18 matches and that was in a League Cup victory over West Ham United. Had he just blown his big Premier League opportunity?

In January 2004, he dropped back down to the Football League but it was a move he needed for his career. Joyfully for Zamora, it was West Ham United where his next port of call would be as the Hammers struck a deal with Tottenham which allowed an unhappy Jermain Defoe to go in the other direction. Zamora struck an instant cord for West Ham supporters, scoring in his first two matches for the club as they narrowly missed out on an immediate return to the Premier League via the play-offs.

There was no play-off heartache in 2005. Zamora was the ultimate difference behind West Ham’s return to the top-flight. He scored four goals in the play-off matches, including the winner to defeat Preston North End in the final. He was heading back to the Premier League and it was with his boyhood club too. He made an important contribution to the 2005-2006 team under Alan Pardew that finished in 9th place and reached the FA Cup final. Bobby scored on the club’s final visit to Highbury which ended in victory over Arsenal but was one of the unfortunate victims to have a spot-kick saved in the FA Cup shootout defeat to Liverpool FC.

He started 2006-2007 in brilliant form with five goals in four matches but as the club hit a dreadful run of form, the goals also dried up for Zamora. Pardew was sacked and replaced by Alan Curbishley. Zamora did score some vital goals in the run-in which saw West Ham pull off a remarkable escape with seven wins in their last nine matches to avoid relegation. Among those goals was a winning goal at Arsenal which made West Ham the first away winners in the Premier League at The Emirates Stadium. In 2007-2008, he missed five months of the campaign because of tendinitis which restricted him to just 14 Premier League appearances and would leave Upton Park in the summer of 2008 to join Fulham.

Zamora struggled to find the net, scoring just twice in 35 league appearances over the 2008-2009 season and it looked set that his stay in the west of the capital would be just a sole season. Fulham agreed a fee with Hull City for Zamora to be sold in July 2009 to the Tigers. However, he turned down the move because he didn’t fancy moving away from London.

It was an inspired decision to stay. Zamora enjoyed his best-ever campaign in 2009-2010, scoring some vital goals in the run to the UEFA Europa League final as Fulham beat the likes of reigning holders Shakhtar Donetsk, Bundesliga champions VfL Wolfsburg and Italian giants Juventus. Fulham suffered heartache in the final, losing 2-1 to Atletico Madrid but finished a comfortable 12th in the Premier League table and he scored 19 goals in all competitions.

A late season injury ended his outside hopes of playing in the 2010 World Cup finals for England but he made his international debut in August 2010, featuring in a friendly victory over Hungary. Another injury meant he would figure just once more for the Three Lions – against Sweden in November 2011 which ultimately turned out to be Capello’s last match in charge of England.

He signed a new four-year contract at Fulham in September 2010 but just 24 hours after putting pen to paper on his new deal, he suffered a broken leg in a home match against Wolverhampton Wanderers. This would keep him out of action for over five months. He did return to action before the 2010-2011 season finished but fell out with new Fulham manager Martin Jol and would leave the Cottagers in January 2012 to join Queens Park Rangers.

He scored on his debut for the club which was a 2-1 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers and scored twice in 14 games as the club narrowly avoided relegation. He never hit the heights of his Fulham days at Loftus Road and experienced two relegations in three seasons. He did score a Goal of the Season contender against West Bromwich Albion in April 2015 and scored another play-off final winner over Derby County but by now, injuries had taken their toll.

In August 2015, he returned to Brighton & Hove Albion and scored seven times in 26 appearances before being released after Brighton missed out on promotion through the play-offs. He didn’t play any part in the campaign after March due to a hip injury and in December 2016, he decided to hang up his football boots. He scored 182 goals during his club career.

Zamora is currently pursuing business interests, including a social housing scheme with ex-Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand and West Ham United midfielder Mark Noble.

On his day, Bobby Zamora was unplayable and certainly made an impact on many of his clubs. His best Premier League spell was with Fulham and he is still fondly remembered by Brighton supporters, who came up with the chant: “When the ball hits the goal it’s not Shearer or Cole, its Zamora,” to the tune of Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore.”

Premier League Files: Nicky Shorey

Premier League Career: Reading (2006-2008), (2012-2013), Aston Villa (2008-2009), Fulham (2010), West Bromwich Albion (2010-2012)

Now a coach at League Two side Stevenage, Nicky Shorey enjoyed his Premier League stint, featuring for four sides across seven years. He was most prominent at Reading, where he had two spells for the club, during which time; he managed to win two England caps from Steve McClaren.

Shorey grew up as a West Ham United fan. He started his career at Leyton Orient as an apprentice in 1998 before moving onto Reading in February 2001 for a fee of just £25,000. He would spend the next seven seasons with the club, helping them reach the promise land of the Premier League.

It wasn’t until October 2001 when he got a regular chance in the first-team. Shorey established himself, making 36 appearances and helping the club to promotion to the First Division. Now at a higher level, he made the transition look easy, scoring his first professional goal in October 2002 to win a match at home to Bradford City. Shorey helped Reading make the First Division play-offs where they were edged out by Wolverhampton Wanderers over two legs.

In 2004, there was a nasty scare for his career. Following a routine match with Stoke City which finished goalless, Shorey noticed at home that his foot had started swelling and was throbbing by the time he reached hospital. The resulting infection kept him in hospital for a fortnight and he received further treatment at home for three months on his departure from A&E.

In 2005-2006, he missed just two matches as the Royals’ finally achieved promotion to the Premier League. He was one of Reading’s superstars in their excellent debut season in the top-flight, when they defied all expectations to finish eighth and only narrowly miss out on European qualification. He missed just one match and scored in Reading’s 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur in November 2006. Praised for his excellent delivery from set-pieces, this was shown in full when he contributed to four of the team’s six goals as they gave West Ham United a New Years’ Day mauling in 2007. The season ended with Nicky becoming the first Reading player to represent the England national team in almost 100 years when he played in the 1-1 draw with Brazil. It was also the first match to be played at the new Wembley Stadium.

He was consistent again in 2007-2008, scoring twice but couldn’t prevent the club from being relegated. Relations between club and player became more strained when a proposed move to West Ham United collapsed during the season. The full-back decided after relegation his future lay away from Berkshire and his departure left a bitter taste in the mouths of many supporters. He joined Aston Villa in the summer of 2008.

His time at Villa was a real struggle, unable to hold down a regular place in the side. Although he started the first four matches of the 2009-2010 campaign, he was made surplus to requirements by Martin O’Neill and turned down a loan move to financially-ruined Portsmouth on transfer deadline day in September 2009. Loan spells followed at Nottingham Forest and Fulham during that campaign. He made 12 appearances for the Cottagers’ but was cup-tied during their historic run to the UEFA Europa League final. Shorey impressed Roy Hodgson but when he left Fulham for the Liverpool FC job, the club decided not to take an option up on his loan contract for a permanent switch.

He went back to the Midlands but joined newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion for £1.3 million in August 2010. He made 57 Premier League appearances across two seasons and had another spell working alongside Hodgson when his Liverpool experience turned sour. The arrival of Liam Ridgewell in the 2012 winter transfer window pushed Shorey out of his regular left-back role at The Hawthorns and he was released at the end of that campaign.

He rejoined Reading in the summer of 2012 on a free transfer, four years after his initial departure in fairly acrimonious circumstances. He made 21 appearances but couldn’t stop Reading’s immediate return to the Championship. He was released following their relegation and experienced spells afterwards with Bristol City, Portsmouth, Colchester United and Pune City in the Indian Super League. He retired in October 2016 to take up a coaching role under the guidance of 34-year-old Darren Sarll who is the current manager of Stevenage.

Fate drew the two sides Nicky is commonly associated with together in the third round of the 2018 Emirates FA Cup. Stevenage and Reading played out a goalless draw and will need to replay to see who progresses to the fourth round.

He might have moved elsewhere, both in his playing and current coaching guise but Nicky Shorey will always be a Royal.

Shock Results: Liverpool FC 1-2 Blackpool (October 2010)

Goalscorers: Charlie Adam 29 PEN, Luke Varney 45, Sotirios Kyrgiakos 53

Teams:

Liverpool FC: Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson, Christian Poulsen (Milan Jovanovic 60), Raul Meireles, Joe Cole (Maxi Rodriguez 88), Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt, Fernando Torres (David Ngog 10)

Blackpool: Matt Gilks, Craig Cathcart (Dekal Keinan 20), Neal Eardley (Matt Phillips 46), Stephen Crainey, Ian Evatt, Charlie Adam, Elliot Grandin (Keith Southern 63), David Vaughan, Gary Taylor-Fletcher, DJ Campbell, Luke Varney

Referee: Mike Jones, Attendance: 43,156

In October 2010, storm clouds were gathering around Anfield. Liverpool FC started this match against Blackpool in the bottom three of the Premier League, having mustered just one win from their opening six matches. The Reds’ had also been embarrassingly dumped out of the League Cup on penalties by Northampton Town.

It wasn’t the start that reigning LMA Manager of the Year Roy Hodgson was expecting. With the club’s sale being challenged in the courts by unpopular American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, there was gloom all around the red half of Merseyside.

Blackpool arrived with two away wins already under their belt and Ian Holloway’s side were looking forward to their first league trip to Anfield since 1971. Despite back-to-back defeats, a win would take the Tangerines’ into ninth place in the table. The mood around the home supporters was not helped by the loss of star forward Fernando Torres to injury inside 10 minutes. As he trooped down the tunnel, Blackpool’s confidence grew and they nearly took the lead shortly afterwards when DJ Campbell guided a half-volley only fractionally wide of the far post.

In the 29th minute, the visitors’ got a golden opportunity to silence The Kop. Glen Johnson’s clumsy challenge on Luke Varney earned Blackpool a penalty. Johnson protested his innocence but Mike Jones rightfully gave the spot-kick. Under a chorus of pressure, Charlie Adam kept his composure and drilled his penalty underneath Pepe Reina’s body to give Holloway’s side a shock but deserved lead.

Liverpool were dismal in the first 45 minutes and the scoreline was about to get worse. Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s superb angled pass played in the dangerous Varney, who made no mistake from 12-yards out and put Blackpool supporters into dreamland. The home fans booed their own players off at the half-time whistle. This was turning into another painful afternoon for the Anfield faithful.

Hodgson had to revive his underperforming stars at the interval and they reduced the deficit in the opening eight minutes of the second half. Steven Gerrard’s free-kick was powered home by Sotirios Kyrgiakos. The Greek came close again later on from a similar routine but was denied by a fine stop from Matt Gilks.

Blackpool held on for a famous win – their first at Anfield since 1969 and they went on to complete a league double over LFC. It was Liverpool’s worst start to a season in 57 years and Hodgson eventually left in January. Kenny Dalglish returned to the dugout and they would rally to finish sixth. Despite thrilling neutrals all season, Blackpool were relegated on the final day of the season. This though is a day their fans will never forget.