Liverpool supporter Neal Patel gives us the lowdown on his club ahead of Saturday's meeting with the Whites.
We’re now 17 games into the 2012/13 season – what’s your assessment of Liverpool’s campaign so far?
It was always going to be an experimental season with a new manager and his philosophy and style of play. We had a poor start, but were very unlucky not to pick up wins against both Manchester clubs that would have transformed our current league position. All in all, though, I think there are encouraging signs.
And how would you assess Brendan Rodgers’ time at the club so far?
So far, so good. He carries himself well and has embraced the club, the fans and the city of Liverpool, which supporters appreciate. I believe he could be a really influential manager with some of our youth players coming through which is integral for the future of the club.
Having watched Liverpool, have you noticed a change in philosophy at all? How would you describe the Reds under Rodgers?
Firstly, it’s important to stress that Liverpool have always been a pass-and-move team and I don’t think it’s a case of trying to re-invent the wheel. However, what I have enjoyed seeing is the pressing style of play and focus on retaining the ball, which is a mark of Rodgers’ influence. As always, there were periods of uncertainty at the beginning which you expect with a new manager’s style. But you always knew it was a matter of time before the team started to get comfortable and acclimatise to Rodgers’ way.
There’s certainly been signs that Rodgers could mould Liverpool into a team that’s capable of challenging for a place in the top four – would you agree?
I think so. It's important to remember it’s his first season so hopefully when he gets to bring in the players he wants to the squad, I would expect us to be challenging for the very top of table. However, I am a realist and we have to focus on getting back in the UEFA Champions League first.
Do you share the idea of some that Liverpool could go on and seal a place in next season’s Champions League? Only four points separates them and Everton.
I hope so. It shows how much a run of wins can transform your position in the table as it’s so tight. It’s a shame we’ve not been able to convert the many draws this season into wins, though you have to focus on what’s ahead of you. We need to take it game by game and not get too carried away. But hopefully we’re up there in the mix come the end of the season.
Liverpool were called a one-man team in regards to Steven Gerrard - the same is now being said about Luis Suarez. Is this fair?
It’s a case of both yes and no. From a ‘yes’ point of view we only have to see Suarez’s goals and contribution to wins. From a ‘no’ point of view we can look at the West Ham United result where players such as Jonjo Shelvey stepped up to the plate. However, we do need to see more goals from other areas of the team instead of Suarez and when we do I think people will realise our potential.
Much like at Fulham, Liverpool have seen the emergence of a number of talented young players – how important is this too?
It’s essential to see the emergence of new talent coming through as they’re essentially the future of the club.
Aside from Gerrard and Suarez, who would you pin-point as a threat to Fulham’s chances? How important is the return of Lucas Leiva as well?
Players like Raheem Sterling will always cause any opposition trouble due to their ability to run at players with pace. Glen Johnson has also been in good form. Lucas is a key player for Liverpool and he acts as the pivot and anchor to the team, enabling the likes of Gerrard to push further up the pitch.
Fulham did, of course, do the double over Liverpool last term. The Whites are a side capable of beating any team on their day, so with that in mind, what sort of game do you anticipate?
Fulham have good pace throughout the team and use the wings effectively. Martin Jol has a very attack-minded philosophy which always makes good viewing, though hopefully with that there are opportunities for Liverpool to capitalise on.
What are your stand-out memories from games between Liverpool and Fulham of the past?
Robbie Fowler’s debut at Craven Cottage and the Second Leg of that League Cup tie when he scored five goals. Legend.
For those Fulham fans making the trip to Anfield, what are the best things about visiting the Reds' home?
The best thing could be the three points, as Anfield isn’t the fortress it once was. I’m biased, of course, but Anfield holds a lot of history and is one of English football’s iconic stadiums. The atmosphere is always good, and if Fulham play well you’ll hear the appreciation from the home supporters too. For those that are staying in the city after the game, Liverpool is a cracking night out as well!
What's the one song Fulham fans are bound to hear?
You’ll Never Walk Alone - it’s our anthem! There’ll be a few more humorous ones too, so have a listen.