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Fulham’s Preposterous ‘Great Escape’ from Relegation in 2007/08

Fulham Great Escape 2007/08 - Ultra UTD

Fans of the Premier League have been treated to an array of remarkable relegation escapes, but arguably the best of those was Fulham’s near impossible revival during the 2007/08 season, that saw the Cottagers defy all the odds to remain a staple in the Premier League for years to come.

Despite a summer window for Fulham Football Club; that saw the arrivals of numerous future fan favourites such as Paul Konchesky, Steven Davis and Danny Murphy on a season-long loan from Spurs, The Cottagers soon found themselves in a heap of trouble throughout the new Premier League campaign.

Northern Ireland national team manager, Lawrie Sanchez, arrived at Craven Cottage and was given the helm as club manager but would soon depart the club before the turn of the calendar year after a long string of poor results.

By the time the January transfer window rolled into fruition, they had only recorded two wins from their first twenty league games with a 5-1 thrashing away at Spurs being a sucker-punching blow on Boxing Day 2007.

It really wasn’t looking good for the plucky West London outfit by this point …

Roy Hodgson was eventual named as Sanchez’s replacement who seemed to have a next-to-near impossible task in keeping the Cottagers in the Premier League as Fulham occupied a calamitous 19th spot in the league, only ahead of the lonely Derby County who remained rooted to the foot of the league table for the rest of the season.

Hodgson would have to wait until a clash against Aston Villa to get his first three points as Fulham were able to see off the Villains in a 2-1 win at Craven Cottage, but it was a resulted that hardly merited a change in fortune.

Fulham would lose their next three consecutive games and would rescue a point away against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park after a late Jimmy Bullard free kick regained some salvation amongst Fulham fans.

However, despite the string of continuous poor results, Fulham would stage a major upset over Everton back at Craven Cottage the following week with the Toffees being major Champions League contenders throughout the 2007/08 season.

Fulham’s next five games saw defeats to the likes of Liverpool, Newcastle and Sunderland, a 2-2 draw against rock bottom Derby and a 2-0 win over fellow relegation strugglers Reading.

Their next fixture was the biggest of the season as the Cottagers travelled to Eastlands (now known as the Etihad Stadium) to take on a Manchester City side who were still dwelling in mediocrity before the eventual summer Mansour takeover.

Should Fulham lose this game they would be confirmed to be mathematically relegated and would be playing Championship football the following season, and things could not have gotten off to a worser start!

At the half-time interval, the Cottagers were down 2-0 after Stephen Ireland and a post Portsmouth Benjani put the Citizens in a comfortable position heading into half-time, with Fulham now only 45 minutes away from being confirmed as relegated.

Whatever Roy Hodgson said in his half-time team talk seemed to have ignited something in the Cottagers, and most particularly Diomansy Kamara and Danny Murphy, as Fulham came out swinging in the second half knowing the fate of their season hung in the balance.

With just 20 minutes to play, Kamara pulled one back for Fulham before they were awarded a penalty only minutes later which Murphy converted the rebound after Joe Hart saved the initial spot kick.

With Fulham still needing a win to confirm their status as a Premier League for at least another week, Kamara was played through on goal in the closing minutes and finished with a thunderous strike at Hart’s near post that sent the Fulham away end into jubilation.

Fulham’s sudden resurgence would continue with a 2-0 home win against Birmingham City which was just as critical as the previous result as it plummeted the Blues into the relegation zone and saw Fulham climb out of the bottom three for the first time since Boxing Day and a result that would ensure that the relegation fight between Fulham, Reading, Birmingham and Bolton would go to the final day.

Reading played did their part with a 4-0 triumph over already relegated Derby County, Bolton would scrap a hard-earned draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (despite a rare goal for Andriy Shevchenko in the blue of Chelsea).

Birmingham also impressed with a 4-1 home win against Blackburn Rovers which meant Fulham had to win their final game of the season away at Fratton Park against Portsmouth.

After a tense 75 minutes, Danny Murphy latched onto a cross from a Jimmy Bullard free kick and sent the ball past a helpless David James to win the game for Fulham, sending Reading and Birmingham packing to the Championship.

It still baffles fans today that Fulham were able to complete this remarkable feat that many teams have struggled to replicate, with Leicester’s rejuvenation in 2014/15 perhaps being the closet dramatic escape to this one.

Fulham’s resurgence would not stop there as the Cottagers stormed into a phenomenal seventh place finish the following season which would earn them qualification for the Europa League and a points tally that remains the highest that they have ever accumulated in the topflight of English football.

Fulham would even reach the final of the Europa League the following season after a spectacular game against Hamburg in the semi-final at Craven Cottage before Hodgson would eventually leave to take the vacant England job soon after.

While the Cottagers have struggled to establish themselves as a regular fixture in the Premier League in recent seasons, following numerous relegations and promotions between the Championship and Premiership, this may still remain as the greatest escape in league history and a testament to the gritty yet valiant nature of Roy Hodgson’s Fulham side at the turn of the decade.

What do you remember most from Fulham’s ‘Great Escape’ in the 2007/08 season? Tweet us below!

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