Memorable Matches: Oldham Athletic 2-3 Norwich City (November 1992)

Goalscorers: Mark Robins 14, 27, 90, Graeme Sharp 25, Ian Marshall 43

Teams:

Oldham Athletic: Jon Hallworth, Gunnar Halle, Richard Jobson, Neil Pointon, Steve Redmond, Paul Bernard, Nick Henry, Mike Milligan, Ian Marshall, Ian Olney (Neil Adams 58), Graeme Sharp

Norwich City: Bryan Gunn, Ian Butterworth, Mark Bowen, Ian Culverhouse, John Polston, Daryl Sutch, Ian Crook, David Phillips, Ruel Fox, Darren Beckford (Chris Sutton 88), Mark Robins

Referee: Robbie Hart, Attendance: 11,081

Oldham Athletic and Norwich City were two of the more unfashionable clubs in the Premier League’s very first season. However, both teams were a real credit to the league’s early inception, producing outstanding stories throughout the 1992-1993 campaign.

The sides met in early November 1992 and there was plenty of attention on Mike Walker’s Canaries. Results earlier in the weekend had taken Arsenal to the top of the Premier League table but Norwich knew victory at Boundary Park would take them back to the summit. Oldham though must have fancied their chances. Despite the visitors’ excellent attacking record, their defence was brittle and they’d conceded 11 goals on two recent painful away trips to Ewood Park and Anfield. The one certainly was a 0-0 scoreline was a very unlikely result here.

It was Norwich who struck first in an opening 45 minutes that saw the pendulum swing back and forwards. Ian Culverhouse produced a lovely ball after 14 minutes and summer arrival, Mark Robins was left completely unmarked in the penalty area to open the scoring. It was Robins first goal in seven matches and with the Canaries first serious attack, they were infront.

Norwich’s lead lasted just 11 minutes. Nick Henry delivered a ball into the box from the left-hand side. It was flicked on and Graeme Sharp reacted instantly, providing a predatory finish beyond Bryan Gunn to bring Oldham level. However, their parity didn’t last long. Two minutes later, Norwich were back infront.

Oldham’s high offside trap was brutally exposed by the pacey winger Ruel Fox. He produced the perfect first-time pass and with goalkeeper Jon Hallworth caught in no-man’s land and the defenders scrambling to get back, Robins had all the time in the world to convert his second goal of the evening. Two minutes before half-time, Oldham levelled the scores again. Auxiliary forward Ian Marshall was first to another flick-on and bravely beat an onrushing Gunn to the loose ball. There was a collision between the pair but Marshall got enough on his looping shot to find the back of the net.

The second half was a cagier affair and it looked like the points were going to be shared. Robins though would have the last laugh. In stoppage-time, he created some space for himself in the penalty area and his low shot found the bottom corner of Hallworth’s net to seal victory for Norwich and take them back to the top of the Premier League table. Discarded by Manchester United and Alex Ferguson, the forward was proving his valuable worth to the Norwich cause. He scored the club’s first Premier League hat-trick and only the second in the history of the league after Eric Cantona’s treble for Leeds United against Tottenham Hotspur back in August.

Norwich stayed top of the table for Christmas but their defensive issues would see them fade away slightly in the second half of the season. Nevertheless, the East Anglian side were a tremendous third in the final standings. Oldham scored plenty of goals throughout the campaign and won their final three matches to avoid the drop on the final day of the season.

 

 

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Seasonal Records: 2011-2012

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 2011-2012 Premier League campaign. This was the most dramatic finale to any Premier League season as in its 20th campaign; Manchester City snatched the title away in stoppage-time from Manchester United in the most unbelievable fashion.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester City 38 28 5 5 93 29 +64 89
2 Manchester United 38 28 5 5 89 33 +56 89
3 Arsenal 38 21 7 10 74 49 +25 70
4 Tottenham Hotspur 38 20 9 9 66 41 +25 69
5 Newcastle United 38 19 8 11 56 51 +5 65
6 Chelsea 38 18 10 10 65 46 +19 64
7 Everton 38 15 11 12 50 40 +10 56
8 Liverpool FC 38 14 10 14 47 40 +7 52
9 Fulham 38 14 10 14 48 51 -3 52
10 West Bromwich Albion 38 13 8 17 45 52 -7 47
11 Swansea City 38 12 11 15 44 51 -7 47
12 Norwich City 38 12 11 15 52 66 -14 47
13 Sunderland 38 11 12 15 45 46 -1 45
14 Stoke City 38 11 12 15 36 53 -17 45
15 Wigan Athletic 38 11 10 17 42 62 -20 43
16 Aston Villa 38 7 17 14 37 53 -16 38
17 Queens Park Rangers 38 10 7 21 43 66 -23 37
18 Bolton Wanderers 38 10 6 22 46 77 -31 36
19 Blackburn Rovers 38 8 7 23 48 78 -30 31
20 Wolverhampton Wanderers 38 5 10 23 40 82 -42 25

 

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 1066
European qualifiers Manchester City (UEFA Champions League)

Manchester United (UEFA Champions League)

Arsenal (UEFA Champions League)

Chelsea (UEFA Champions League)

Tottenham Hotspur (UEFA Europa League)

Newcastle United (UEFA Europa League)

Liverpool FC (UEFA Europa League)

Longest winning run 8 games (Manchester United)
Longest unbeaten run 14 games (Manchester City)
Longest winless run 12 games (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Longest losing run 8 games (Wigan Athletic)
Highest attendance 75,627 (Manchester United vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Lowest attendance 15,195 (Queens Park Rangers vs. Bolton Wanderers)

 

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year Robin van Persie (Arsenal)
PFA Young Player of the Year Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Football Writers’ Award Robin van Persie (Arsenal)
PFA Team of the Year Joe Hart, Leighton Baines, Kyle Walker, Fabricio Coloccini, Vincent Kompany, Scott Parker, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Gareth Bale, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie
Manager of the Year Alan Pardew (Newcastle United)
Premier League Goal of the Season Papiss Cisse (Chelsea vs. NEWCASTLE UNITED)

 

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Edin Dzeko (4) Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City 1-5 28th August 2011
Wayne Rooney Manchester United vs. Arsenal 8-2 28th August 2011
Sergio Aguero Manchester City vs. Wigan Athletic 3-0 10th September 2011
Wayne Rooney Bolton Wanderers vs. Manchester United 0-5 10th September 2011
Demba Ba Newcastle United vs. Blackburn Rovers 3-1 24th September 2011
Frank Lampard Bolton Wanderers vs. Chelsea 1-5 2nd October 2011
Andy Johnson Fulham vs. Queens Park Rangers 6-0 2nd October 2011
Robin van Persie Chelsea vs. Arsenal 3-5 29th October 2011
Demba Ba Stoke City vs. Newcastle United 1-3 31st October 2011
Yakubu (4) Blackburn Rovers vs. Swansea City 4-2 3rd December 2011
Dimitar Berbatov Manchester United vs. Wigan Athletic 5-0 26th December 2011
Clint Dempsey Fulham vs. Newcastle United 5-2 21st January 2012
Robin van Persie Arsenal vs. Blackburn Rovers 7-1 4th February 2012
Peter Odemwingie Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. West Bromwich Albion 1-5 12th February 2012
Pavel Pogrebnyak Fulham vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers 5-0 4th March 2012
Steven Gerrard Liverpool FC vs. Everton 3-0 13th March 2012
Carlos Tevez Norwich City vs. Manchester City 1-6 14th April 2012
Luis Suarez Norwich City vs. Liverpool FC 0-3 28th April 2012
Fernando Torres Chelsea vs. Queens Park Rangers 6-1 29th April 2012

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Robin van Persie Arsenal 30
2 Wayne Rooney Manchester United 27
3 Sergio Aguero Manchester City 23
4= Emmanuel Adebayor Tottenham Hotspur 17
4= Clint Dempsey Fulham 17
4= Yakubu Blackburn Rovers 17
7 Demba Ba Newcastle United 16
8 Grant Holt Norwich City 15
9 Edin Dzeko Manchester City 14
10= Mario Balotelli Manchester City 13
10= Papiss Cisse Newcastle United 13
12= Danny Graham Swansea City 12
12= Steven Fletcher Wolverhampton Wanderers 12
14= Frank Lampard Chelsea 11
14= Jermain Defoe Tottenham Hotspur 11
14= Luis Suarez Liverpool FC 11
14= Rafael van der Vaart Tottenham Hotspur 11
14= Daniel Sturridge Chelsea 11
19= Javier Hernandez Manchester United 10
19= Gareth Bale Tottenham Hotspur 10
19= Peter Odemwingie West Bromwich Albion 10
19= Peter Crouch Stoke City 10
19= Danny Welbeck Manchester United 9
19= Nikica Jelavic Everton 9
19= Steve Morison Norwich City 9

 

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal 28th August 2011
Arsenal 7-1 Blackburn Rovers 4th February 2012
Fulham 6-0 Queens Park Rangers 2nd October 2011
Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City 23rd October 2011
Norwich City 1-6 Manchester City 14th April 2012
Chelsea 6-1 Queens Park Rangers 29th April 2012
Fulham 0-5 Manchester United 21st December 2011
Manchester United 5-0 Wigan Athletic 26th December 2011
Bolton Wanderers 0-5 Manchester United 10th September 2011
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-5 Manchester United 18th March 2012

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
10 Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal 28th August 2011
8 Arsenal 7-1 Blackburn Rovers 4th February 2012
8 Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal 29th October 2011
8 Manchester United 4-4 Everton 22nd April 2012
8 Swansea City 4-4 Wolverhampton Wanderers 28th April 2012
7 Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City 23rd October 2011
7 Norwich City 1-6 Manchester City 14th April 2012
7 Chelsea 6-1 Queens Park Rangers 29th April 2012
7 Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur 26th February 2012
7 Fulham 5-2 Newcastle United 21st January 2012
7 Blackburn Rovers 4-3 Arsenal 17th September 2011
6 Fulham 6-0 Queens Park Rangers 2nd October 2011
6 Tottenham Hotspur 1-5 Manchester City 28th August 2011
6 Manchester City 5-1 Norwich City 3rd December 2011
6 Bolton Wanderers 1-5 Chelsea 2nd October 2011
6 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-5 West Bromwich Albion 12th February 2012
6 Aston Villa 2-4 Chelsea 31st March 2012
6 Norwich City 4-2 Newcastle United 10th December 2011
6 Blackburn Rovers 4-2 Swansea City 3rd December 2011
6 Manchester City 3-3 Sunderland 31st March 2012

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Raheem Sterling Liverpool FC 1-2 Wigan Athletic 17 years, 3 months, 16 days 24th March 2012
Adam Henley Wigan Athletic 3-3 Blackburn Rovers 17 years, 5 months, 5 days 19th November 2011
Ross Barkley Everton 0-1 Queens Park Rangers 17 years, 8 months 15 days 20th August 2011
Bruno Andrade Wigan Athletic 2-0 Queens Park Rangers 17 years, 10 months, 25 days 27th August 2011
Anthony Forde Chelsea 3-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 18 years, 10 days 26th November 2011
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal 18 years, 13 days 28th August 2011
Kerim Frei Swansea City 2-0 Fulham 18 years, 21 days 10th December 2011
Romelu Lukaku Chelsea 3-1 Norwich City 18 years, 3 months, 14 days 27th August 2011
Josh Vela Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Swansea City 18 years, 4 months, 7 days 21st April 2012
Connor Wickham Sunderland 0-1 Newcastle United 18 years, 4 months, 20 days 20th August 2011

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Brad Friedel Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Fulham 40 years, 11 months, 25 days 13th May 2012
Mark Schwarzer Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Fulham 39 years, 7 months, 7 days 13th May 2012
Ryan Giggs Sunderland 0-1 Manchester United 38 years, 5 months, 14 days 13th May 2012
Radek Cerny Arsenal 1-0 Queens Park Rangers 37 years, 10 months, 13 days 31st December 2011
Paul Scholes Sunderland 0-1 Manchester United 37 years, 5 months, 27 days 13th May 2012
Jussi Jaaskelainen Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 36 years, 8 months, 12 days 31st December 2011
Jody Craddock Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Sunderland 36 years, 4 months, 9 days 4th December 2011
Michel Salgado Sunderland 2-1 Blackburn Rovers 36 years, 1 month, 19 days 11th December 2011
Shay Given Norwich City 2-0 Aston Villa 36 years, 23 days 13th May 2012
Thomas Sorensen Stoke City 2-2 Bolton Wanderers 35 years, 11 months, 1 day 13th May 2012

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Joe Hart Manchester City 17
2 Tim Krul Newcastle United 15
3= Brad Friedel Tottenham Hotspur 14
3= Michel Vorm Swansea City 14
5 David de Gea Manchester United 13
5= Wojciech Szczesny Arsenal 13
7= Tim Howard Everton 12
7= Pepe Reina Liverpool FC 12
9 Simon Mignolet Sunderland 11
10 Petr Cech Chelsea 10

Shock Results: Liverpool FC 0-1 Watford (August 1999)

Goalscorers: Tommy Mooney 14

Teams:

Liverpool FC: Sander Westerveld, Jamie Carragher, Vegard Heggem (Rigobert Song 81), Sami Hyypia, Dominic Matteo, Steven Gerrard (David Thompson 57), Jamie Redknapp, Vladimir Smicer (Karl-Heinz Riedle 62), Patrik Berger, Titi Camara, Robbie Fowler

Watford: Chris Day, Des Lyttle, Robert Page, Steve Palmer, Paul Robinson, Mark Williams, Peter Kennedy, Micah Hyde, Richard Johnson (Clint Easton 52), Tommy Mooney, Michel Ngonge (Dominic Foley 69)

Referee: Alan Wilkie, Attendance: 44,174

Watford were in their debut Premier League season and Graham Taylor’s side were given little chance of surviving by many punters in pre-season. The Hornets arrived at Anfield in August 1999 for their third match at this level without a point recorded so far. However, they stunned Merseyside with a fabulous performance and a remarkable victory which was one of the high points of their campaign.

Watford had lost their first two matches to Wimbledon and Sunderland. In both games, they’d competed well but lacked the cutting instinct to hurt their opponents. However, they made the better start with their players handling the occasion of playing at Anfield very well. Richard Johnson was the first to come close inside the first 10 minutes, with his shot stinging the palms of Liverpool’s new goalkeeper recruit, Sander Westerveld.

Four minutes later, the visitors were infront. It was a scrappy goal and a very bad one for Liverpool to concede but no-one connected with Watford was complaining. A free-kick by Peter Kennedy was played into the Liverpool penalty area towards Tommy Mooney who didn’t connect properly. However, the chance wasn’t over. Jamie Carragher slipped and two Watford attackers slid in successfully at the same time to rob Dominic Matteo. The ball fell perfectly to Mooney and he simply couldn’t miss from six-yards out. The Kop had been stunned. However, with still 76 minutes left to play, surely Gerard Houllier’s side would find a way back into the match.

There was a swift response from the Reds. Titi Camara’s driving run down the left-hand side created an opportunity for Steven Gerrard. However, the youngster fired over the crossbar. Patrik Berger came closer with his swerving free-kick, ensuring fine reactions from goalkeeper Chris Day.

However in the second half, Liverpool’s attack looked very blunt and in fact, it was the Hornets who looked more likely to add to their total. As torrential rain gave way to bright sunshine, Mooney escaped some slack marking again but was denied by the feet of Westerveld. His block fell straight to Micah Hyde, whose ambitious lob was cleared off his own goal-line by Rigobert Song. Mooney and Mark Williams squandered further opportunities to increase the lead but the one goal was enough for Taylor to claim his first victory at Liverpool FC’s home in his 22nd year as a professional manager.

Liverpool did improve and finished fourth, whilst Watford beat Chelsea a month later but were relegated well before the season’s end. However, the travelling supporters back to Hertfordshire will always remember the club’s first Premier League visit to Merseyside.

Shock Results: West Ham United 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur (May 2017)

Goalscorers: Manuel Lanzini 65

Teams:

West Ham United: Adrian, Sam Byram, James Collins, Jose Fonte, Winston Reid, Aaron Cresswell, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Andre Ayew (Robert Snodgrass 84), Manuel Lanzini (Edimilson Fernandes 90), Jonathan Calleri (Ashley Fletcher 89)

Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen (Mousa Dembele 67), Ben Davies, Kyle Walker (Kieran Trippier 80), Eric Dier, Victor Wanyama (Vincent Janssen 73), Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son

Referee: Anthony Taylor, Attendance: 56,992

Unbeaten in the Premier League since losing at Anfield in mid-February, Tottenham Hotspur had put up a valiant fight in the chase for the title for a second successive season. They were four points adrift of Chelsea with four games left to play. They had the opportunity to pile the pressure on Antonio Conte’s side with victory on a Friday Night Football trip to The London Stadium.

West Ham United’s debut season at their new home had been underwhelming to say the least. They had lost to all of the Premier League heavyweights on their own patch but they often seemed to bring their ‘A’ game to a meeting with Spurs. They needed to produce a performance for the supporters who had experienced a frustrating campaign.

West Ham were unbeaten in four matches coming into this encounter but still needed another point to be certain of another season in the top-flight. They created the first major opening of the contest but Manuel Lanzini dragged his effort wide of the post. Tottenham’s first chance came on 20 minutes. Harry Kane’s ambitious effort was spilled by Adrian. Dele Alli followed up but his shot was blocked before Adrian recovered and made a good save with his foot to deny Kane. Christian Eriksen tried his luck from distance right on the stroke of half-time but his left-footed drive whistled wide of the far post. It was 0-0 at half-time and already, this looked like a contest where only one goal might be enough.

It duly came in the 65th minute. Aaron Cresswell hung a cross upto the back post and in a fairly messy goalmouth scramble, the ball eventually fell to the dangerous Lanzini at point-blank range. The Argentine made no mistake, drilling his shot beyond Hugo Lloris and it put West Ham into the lead with virtually their first attack of the second half.

It was the home side that were finishing as the better team. A mistake by the usually reliable Toby Alderweireld gave on-loan forward Jonathan Calleri the chance to finish the contest off but he was denied by Lloris. In stoppage-time, the Hammers had another opportunity which was put wide by substitute Ashley Fletcher when he was played through by Robert Snodgrass.

Tottenham had been rattled by the occasion and when Anthony Taylor blew his whistle to signal the end of the contest, the body language of the players said it all. It was only their fourth league defeat of the campaign but one loss too many.

Chelsea now only had to win their next two matches to seal the title. A week later, the Blues had recorded those victories over Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion to regain the crown they’d meekly surrendered in 2016 to Leicester City. For West Ham, this was the highlight of their campaign which eventually saw them finish in 11th position.

Premier League Files: Maik Taylor

Premier League Career: Southampton (1997), Fulham (2002-2003), Birmingham City (2003-2006, 2007-2010)

Goalkeeping has been a part of Maik Taylor’s professional football life. He kept goal for the likes of Fulham and Birmingham City during a career that was underrated but enjoyable. Since 2014, he has been the goalkeeping coach for the Northern Ireland international football team, a country that he served for 88 times as a player between 1999 and 2011.

Born in Hildesheim in Germany to a German mother and English father, Taylor spent his early infancy in Germany but moved to England as a schoolboy and made his Football League breakthrough in June 1995 when he signed for Barnet for a fee of just £700 from Farnborough Town. Southampton and in particular, Graeme Souness were impressed with his displays at Underhill and they made a move for him in 1997, prizing him away from Barnet for £500,000.

It showed the confidence Souness had in him straightaway that he put Taylor straight into the first-team on his arrival, displacing veteran Dave Beasant in the process. Maik kept a clean sheet on his debut in the 1-0 away victory at Middlesbrough and remained the first-choice keeper for the remainder of the season as Southampton narrowly avoided relegation. When Souness left, Dave Jones replaced him and signed Paul Jones from his former club, Stockport County in the summer of 1997. Jones immediately took the no.1 goalkeeper jersey and Taylor was restricted to warming the bench.

Kevin Keegan knew a talent was there and bought Taylor to Fulham in November 1997 for £800,000. It did mean a drop of two divisions but the guarantee of first-team football. He helped the Cottagers win the Second Division title and remained the first-choice goalkeeper even when Jean Tigana arrived to succeed Keegan in the Fulham hotseat. Taylor’s consistency in the 2000-2001 season helped Fulham win a place in the Premier League as Division One champions. However, when Tigana saw the opportunity to snap up experienced Dutchman Edwin van der Sar from Juventus, he wasn’t going to see that chance slip away. As frustrating as this must have been for Taylor, he simply couldn’t compete with someone with world-class abilities that Van der Sar possessed.

Maik stayed with Fulham and actually played a bulk of their 2002-2003 games when Van der Sar sustained an injury in December 2002 at St James’ Park that would keep him on the sidelines for a few months. However, it was Taylor who would move in the summer of 2003 to Birmingham City. The deal was initially a loan period but his outstanding displays saw Steve Bruce waste no time in triggering a £1.5 million buying fee in March 2004. Taylor’s performances were recognised by his peers and he was in the running to be included as the goalkeeper in the PFA Team of the Year before losing out to Manchester United’s Tim Howard.

Taylor remained the regular first-choice for Bruce at Birmingham for the next four seasons and despite experiencing two painful Premier League relegations, his knowledge of the Football League was vital in Birmingham ensuring they won two instant promotions under the guidance of first Bruce, then Alex McLeish. However, he spent the 2009-2010 campaign  playing second-fiddle again after McLeish signed Joe Hart on-loan for the season from Manchester City. Taylor would only play two league matches that season – both games against City as Hart was ineligible to play against his parent team. They were to be his final top-flight appearances.

He remained a squad member in 2010-2011 but never played as Ben Foster had joined from Manchester United to take the first-choice goalkeeping position and Maik was released following their third Premier League relegation. He had spells with Leeds United and Millwall before hanging up his gloves in May 2013. Two months later, he moved into coaching with Northern Ireland.

Memorable Matches: Portsmouth 4-3 Fulham (August 2004)

Goalscorers: Eyal Berkovic 19, Yakubu 22 PEN, 28, 72, Andy Cole 39, Luis Boa Morte 41, Carlos Bocanegra 75

Teams:

Portsmouth: Shaka Hislop, Arjan de Zeeuw, Linvoy Primus, Dejan Stefanovic, David Unsworth, Nigel Quashie, Eyal Berkovic (Lomana Lualua 79), Steve Stone, Patrik Berger, Yakubu (Matt Taylor 88), Ricardo Fuller

Fulham: Edwin van der Sar, Carlos Bocanegra, Alain Goma, Zat Knight, Moritz Volz, Papa Bouba Diop, Sylvain Legwinski (Brian McBride 77), Claus Jensen, Luis Boa Morte, Andy Cole, Tomasz Radzinski (Collins John 68)

Referee: Barry Knight, Attendance: 19,728

Portsmouth were still awaiting their first victory of the 2004-2005 season as they welcomed Fulham to Fratton Park. Pompey had played a game less than most teams, so their position was slightly false ahead of kick-off whilst Fulham had one victory, one draw and one defeat to their name from their first three games of the season.

A feverish first half on the south coast saw five goals and a stunning opening 30 minutes from the home side. The pace of Yakubu would trouble Fulham’s backline all evening and this created the opening for the first goal, scored by Eyal Berkovic in the 19th minute. Three minutes later, Luis Boa Morte clumsily challenged debutant Ricardo Fuller and a penalty was given by referee Barry Knight. Yakubu made no mistake from 12-yards.

Fulham’s horrific opening spell continued on 28 minutes. Fuller put Yakubu through and with his right-foot shot; he defeated Edwin van der Sar once again. At this stage, it looked like a case of how many Portsmouth might end up with. However, one thing Chris Coleman had installed into his team was resolve and they weren’t going to lie down without a fight.

Six minutes before half-time, Boa Morte floated a tremendous cross from the left-wing over the head of Arjan de Zeeuw. Andy Cole made the most of the chance to beat Shaka Hislop and score his third Fulham goal since arriving in the summer from Blackburn Rovers.

Two minutes later, the Cottagers were right back in the contest. Claus Jensen played Boa Morte through and the Portuguese winger’s dramatic first half was concluded with his name joining those on the scoresheet. His shot managed to sneak through Hislop’s legs.

The end-to-end action continued in the second half. Berkovic nearly got his second of the evening with his goal-bound shot blocked by Moritz Volz whilst Boa Morte shot across the face of goal on 59 minutes having once again got the better of Linvoy Primus.

With 18 minutes left, Yakubu completed his hat-trick, firing home from close-range. Three minutes later, Carlos Bocanegra’s header at the back post saw Fulham get within a goal once again. However, they couldn’t find a way through again and Pompey held on for all three points.

Manager Harry Redknapp could raise a smile at the full-time whistle but by the end of November, he had left Portsmouth after disagreements with the club’s owner, Milan Mandaric. He took over at south coast rivals Southampton but ended the season with his first top-flight relegation. Fulham finished in 13th place.

Premier League Files: Stephen Ireland

Premier League Career: Manchester City (2005-2010), Aston Villa (2010, 2011-2013), Newcastle United (2011), Stoke City (2013-PRESENT)

Stephen Ireland’s career started with plenty of potential at Manchester City. Now at the age of 31, he has just experienced Premier League relegation for the first time in his career with Stoke City. The former Republic of Ireland international has had some injury problems in Staffordshire. However, his lack of progress since leaving Eastlands in 2010 is startling.

Born in Cork, Ireland was spotted playing junior football by several British clubs. He eventually chose Manchester City and made his professional debut for the club as an 18-year-old in September 2005. He came on as an 81st minute substitute in a narrow 1-0 home loss to Bolton Wanderers. It was ex-Nottingham Forest left-back Stuart Pearce who gave Ireland his senior breakthrough and it happened around the same time where other City graduates were making an impact on the first-team line-up. They included Lee Croft, Micah Richards and Joey Barton.

Two weeks after his first Premier League appearance, Stephen made his first start in the 2-0 victory over Everton and won the Man of the Match for a very impressive full start. He ended a promising first campaign with 28 appearances and a new contract that would keep him at the club until 2009. His rapid progress continued in a struggling side in 2006-2007. Ireland scored his first Premier League goal on Boxing Day in a crucial 1-0 victory away at Sheffield United.

Sven-Goran Eriksson succeeded Pearce in the summer of 2007 and ensured Ireland remained a key part of the Citizens midfield. He scored four times in the Premier League in 2007-2008. One of these strikes did attract some controversy though for his celebration against Sunderland. After scoring the only goal of the game, he dropped his shorts to reveal a pair of underpants sporting the Superman logo! He was given a warning by the FA for his actions. This came in a tricky period for the midfielder where his international career came to a shuddering halt.

After scoring four times in just six international appearances and days before a crunch European Championships qualifier against the Czech Republic, Ireland was given compassionate leave by his international manager, Steve Staunton. Staunton had received a phone call from Ireland’s girlfriend reporting the death of his maternal grandmother. However, the media quickly learned this was a lie and Ireland changed his story announcing it was his paternal grandmother who had passed away. More lies were discovered in the days that followed and he was forced to finally tell the truth, admitting he was making an excuse to leave the team hotel so he could visit his girlfriend in Cork. It was naïve, angered a lot of people and damaged his professional reputation greatly. He would never play international football again.

Despite this damaging episode, he remained an integral part of Manchester City’s plans, even in the early years of the Abu Dhabi Group’s takeover which would turn their fortunes completely around. This included 13 goals in all competitions in the 2008-2009 season when Mark Hughes was the first-team manager. However, Roberto Mancini’s arrival and his signings of Patrick Vieira and Nigel de Jong limited his impact in the second half of the 2009-2010 campaign. His Manchester City career had reached its conclusion.

In August 2010, he was made a makeweight in a deal with Aston Villa which saw the reigning PFA Young Player of the Year, James Milner move to City effectively as his replacement. Ireland left some stinging criticism for his former employers, saying: “Even the young lads (at Villa) are so polite. I’m actually quite shocked with that. At City they’re not like that. They’re coming in with £10,000 watches on their wrists and walking around as if they have played 200 Premier League games.”

His debut for the Villans was a disaster. Aston Villa lost 6-0 to Newcastle United and he was quickly dropped and criticised for his lack of work ethic by Gerard Houllier. He was made surplus to requirements and after just six months at Villa Park, was loaned to Newcastle for the remainder of the 2010-2011 campaign. Ankle injuries restricted him to just 49 minutes of first-team football on Tyneside and his career looked dangerously in limbo going into the summer of 2011.

Stating he was keen to fight for his first-team place at Villa Park, Ireland was handed the no.7 shirt by new manager Alex McLeish following Ashley Young’s departure to Manchester United. He responded well by winning the Supporters’ Player of the Year award, starring in particular at Stamford Bridge with a goal and an assist in Aston Villa’s 3-1 victory on New Years’ Eve.

However, he quickly fell out of favour with Paul Lambert when he took over as Villa manager in 2012 and was left out of the first-team squad for “footballing reasons” for the remainder of the season from January onwards. He was reunited with Hughes in September 2013, linking up with the Welshman at Stoke City. Since then, Stephen has made 59 appearances, scoring twice but again, he has made limited impact.

A broken leg in May 2016 didn’t help matters and he failed to make a single appearance for the Potters in 2017-2018 when their 10-year tenure in the Premier League came to an end. Out of contract this summer, it is highly unlikely he will stay when the retained list comes out in the coming weeks. Stephen Ireland’s career has been full of frustration and disappointment. When he finds the right environment, he can be a real force for the team. Unfortunately, he hasn’t really found that since he left Manchester City.

The Clubs: Queens Park Rangers

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
278 81 65 132 339 431 -92 308 7

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Andy Impey 142
Simon Barker 132
David Bardsley 131
Clive Wilson 118
Alan McDonald 116
Les Ferdinand 110
Ian Holloway 107
Trevor Sinclair 101
Ray Wilkins 84
Steve Yates 82

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Les Ferdinand 60
Bradley Allen 20
Charlie Austin 18
Kevin Gallen 18
Gary Penrice 17
Simon Barker 15
Danny Dichio 13
Andy Impey 11
Trevor Sinclair 10
Djibril Cisse 9

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Queens Park Rangers 5-1 Coventry City 23rd October 1993 1993-1994
West Ham United 0-4 Queens Park Rangers 28th August 1993 1993-1994
Queens Park Rangers 4-1 Tottenham Hotspur 3rd October 1992 1992-1993
West Bromwich Albion 1-4 Queens Park Rangers 4th April 2015 2014-2015
Queens Park Rangers 3-0 Ipswich Town 2nd October 1993 1993-1994
Everton 0-3 Queens Park Rangers 20th November 1993 1993-1994
Queens Park Rangers 3-0 Newcastle United 4th February 1995 1994-1995
Queens Park Rangers 3-0 Southampton 30th March 1996 1995-1996
Queens Park Rangers 3-0 West Ham United 27th April 1996 1995-1996
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-3 Queens Park Rangers 17th September 2011 2011-2012

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Fulham 6-0 Queens Park Rangers 2nd October 2011 2011-2012
Manchester City 6-0 Queens Park Rangers 10th May 2015 2014-2015
Chelsea 6-1 Queens Park Rangers 29th April 2012 2011-2012
Queens Park Rangers 0-5 Swansea City 18th August 2012 2012-2013
Leicester City 5-1 Queens Park Rangers 24th May 2015 2014-2015
Queens Park Rangers 0-4 Leeds United 4th April 1994 1993-1994
Blackburn Rovers 4-0 Queens Park Rangers 26th November 1994 1994-1995
Leeds United 4-0 Queens Park Rangers 24th January 1995 1994-1995
Queens Park Rangers 0-4 Bolton Wanderers 13th August 2011 2011-2012
Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Queens Park Rangers 24th August 2014 2014-2015

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Gerry Francis 3 11th November 1994
Ray Wilkins 3 4th September 1996
Neil Warnock 3 8th January 2012
Mark Hughes 2 23rd November 2012
Harry Redknapp 3 3rd February 2015
Chris Ramsey 2 4th November 2015

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Queens Park Rangers 2-3 Manchester United 5th February 1994 21,267 1993-1994
Queens Park Rangers 1-3 Manchester United 18th January 1993 21,117 1992-1993
Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Liverpool FC 23rd November 1992 21,056 1992-1993
Queens Park Rangers 0-0 Arsenal 2nd September 1992 20,868 1992-1993
Queens Park Rangers 4-1 Tottenham Hotspur 3rd October 1992 19,845 1992-1993
Queens Park Rangers 1-3 Liverpool FC 18th August 1993 19,635 1993-1994
Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Leeds United 24th October 1992 19,326 1992-1993
Queens Park Rangers 2-3 Manchester United 10th December 1994 18,948 1994-1995
Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Aston Villa 8th May 1993 18,904 1992-1993
Queens Park Rangers 3-0 West Ham United 27th April 1996 18,828 1995-1996

 

Intro

Queens Park Rangers have experienced an up-and-down adventure in the Premier League. They were the best team in the capital in the 1992-1993 Premier League season but were relegated just three seasons later. Neil Warnock ended their 15-year hiatus in 2011 but QPR have since gone down on two more occasions, attempting to spend big and not getting the balance of their squad right. Former Premier League manager Steve McClaren has recently replaced Ian Holloway and will try to get the club away from the mid-table reaches of the Championship on a regular basis.

 

1992-1993

Queens Park Rangers finished as London’s top team in the first Premier League season, ending in an excellent fifth position. Les Ferdinand achieved back-to-back hat-tricks during the Easter programme and finished runner-up to Teddy Sheringham in the race for the Golden Boot. It wasn’t quite enough to achieve European football for the following season but it showed how far Gerry Francis’ side had come.

 

1993-1994

Although there was a drop from fifth to ninth place, Queens Park Rangers were once again an entertaining side to watch in 1993-1994. Francis’ excellent reign saw him linked to the England job when Graham Taylor resigned and he then turned down the chance to manage an ambitious Wolverhampton Wanderers in Division One in March 1994. The sale of Darren Peacock to Newcastle United frustrated the manager but Les Ferdinand sparkled again with 16 goals.

 

1994-1995

Queens Park Rangers underperformed badly in the 1994-1995 early weeks and a nine-game winless sequence early on saw them struggling in 20th after a 4-2 loss to Norwich City in October 1994. Their season kick-started at the end of October with back-to-back home victories over Aston Villa and Liverpool FC but the corner would be turned without Gerry Francis. He resigned in early November after feeling trust had broken down between himself and the board over the planned appointment of club icon Rodney Marsh as a Director of Football.

Francis was replaced by former player Ray Wilkins, who was released by Crystal Palace to take his first job in management. He guided QPR to a fine eighth-place finish and the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Les Ferdinand was top scorer again but would leave in the off-season to join Newcastle United.

 

1995-1996

The decision not to reinvest the Ferdinand money was a bad decision, even though both Kevin Gallen and Danny Dichio did well in a struggling side. Three wins in the first eight matches did have QPR in 12th place at the end of September but that was the highest the Hoops would get all season in the table.

A dire run of seven successive defeats from Boxing Day to 11th February would give Wilkins’ side too much to do. Despite a 3-0 victory in their final home match of the season against London rivals West Ham United, Queens Park Rangers were relegated in 19th place – ending their 13-year stay in England’s top-flight.

 

2011-2012

After an absence of 15 years, Queens Park Rangers returned to the top-flight in-time for the 2011-2012 season with Neil Warnock as the club’s manager. He invested in experience in the summer, with the likes of Joey Barton, Anton Ferdinand, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Kieron Dyer among the new recruits.

QPR actually made a decent start and when they won 3-2 away at Stoke City in mid-November, they moved into ninth place. However, that would be Warnock’s final win as manager. Two points from the next eight matches saw them drop into relegation danger and Warnock lost his job as a result. He was replaced by Mark Hughes.

Loftus Road became a tough place for stronger sides to visit. The likes of Liverpool FC, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur were all beaten there in the run-in and it was this fortress that ensured QPR escaped relegation on the final day of the season by just a single point.

 

2012-2013

It took Queens Park Rangers a full 17 matches before they even tasted victory in a wretched 2012-2013 campaign. When it came in a 2-1 success over London rivals Fulham, the die looked like it had already been cast. Mark Hughes was sacked in mid-November and an ageing squad just didn’t perform even for Harry Redknapp. It was a team with plenty of individuals but they didn’t seem to gel as a team.

Redknapp did make QPR tougher to beat when he arrived but just three further victories were achieved against Southampton, Sunderland and most surprisingly, away at Chelsea in January 2013. Shaun Wright-Phillips’ winning goal at Stamford Bridge was the only bright spark in a wretched season. Relegation was officially confirmed by a forgettable 0-0 draw at Reading in April, who also went down on the same afternoon.

 

2014-2015

After a late winner from Bobby Zamora in the Championship play-off final against Derby County, QPR returned to the top-flight and Redknapp was still at the helm. He spent £32 million in the summer in a bid to try and avoid the problems of the last Premier League campaign.

He did have a proven goalscorer in Charlie Austin. Austin scored 18 Premier League goals and netted a hat-trick in a thrilling 3-2 comeback victory over West Bromwich Albion in December. It was part of a home sequence that saw QPR amass 13 points from five games, including a 2-2 draw with defending champions Manchester City, where Austin again starred with two goals.

Away form was less impressive though. They collected just seven points on their travels and none under Redknapp’s time at the club. He stepped down in early February, citing a knee operation as the cause for his abrupt departure. Chris Ramsey took caretaker charge but QPR were fighting a losing battle and their fate was sealed by a 6-0 loss at Manchester City in May.

Iconic Moments: Zola arrives in England (November 1996)

In the summer of 1996, the foreign revolution was starting to arrive in English football. This was none more apparent than at Chelsea where new manager Ruud Gullit was beginning to make his mark by signing players from the continent.

Italians Roberto Di Matteo and Gianluca Vialli had already arrived and a third Italian player would join the Londoners before 1996 was over. £4.5 million was paid to Parma for the small, but technically gifted Gianfranco Zola to arrive at Stamford Bridge.

Zola was a lynchpin of the Italian national side but had become frustrated at being forced to play in a deep-lying role for Parma in Serie A. Wanting to access a new challenge; there was just as much attention from the Italian press than from the English media when he was introduced as a Chelsea player.

He made his debut in a 1-1 draw at Ewood Park with Blackburn Rovers days later and made an incredible impact. Having been in the country for only seven months, he had won over the supporters, the neutrals and the football journalists, who crowned him the Football Writers’ Player of the Year for the season.

 

 

Zola left Chelsea in the summer of 2003, just a week before Roman Abramovich’s takeover of the club. He left after seven seasons of enthralling skills, exceptional goals and a set-piece expertise that was among the best in world football. His final gift was to help the Blues into the Champions League that helped Abramovich towards his takeover that turned the club into one of Europe’s real superpowers.

 

 

Great Goals: Gianfranco Zola – CHELSEA vs. Manchester United (February 1997)

When Gianfranco Zola joined Chelsea from Parma in November 1996, there was as much attention on the transfer from the Italian media as there was from the English press. By the time he left Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2003, he had become one of the club’s greatest-ever players. This was an early sign of his dazzling brilliance against reigning champions Manchester United.

Played in by Dan Petrescu, it looked like Zola was going up a corridor with little options. He had other ideas. He took advantage of Denis Irwin committing himself by cutting inside his tackle. Gary Pallister was beaten by his skill and Peter Schmeichel was beaten at his near post by this tricky, majestic Italian.

It gave Chelsea the lead and although Manchester United did leave the capital with a point by the end of the afternoon, they certainly now knew who Gianfranco Zola really was. He also scored a winner in February 1997 for his country at Wembley Stadium against England and despite arriving four months into the campaign, was voted the Player of the Year by the Football Writers.

 

The Managers: Sam Allardyce

Premier League Clubs Managed: Bolton Wanderers (2001-2007), Newcastle United (2007-2008), Blackburn Rovers (2008-2010), West Ham United (2012-2015), Sunderland (2015-2016), Crystal Palace (2016-2017), Everton (2017-2018)

Sam Allardyce is one of the great survivors of the Premier League. He is often one of the first bosses that worried owners turn to when their club look to be flirting dangerously with the depths of a relegation battle. Everton chairman Bill Kenwright was the latest in this situation when the Toffees elected to call on his services in November 2017. Everton slipped into the bottom three when they lost 4-1 at Southampton under David Unsworth’s difficult reign as caretaker manager. They were in freefall and needed the expertise of Allardyce to get themselves out of a very sticky situation.

The Merseysiders didn’t have to worry. The football in terms of overall quality was not good but ‘Big Sam’ is one person who doesn’t care about style. The result is vitally more important over substance and that’s why Everton finished in eighth position despite some underwhelming displays. It was another case of mission complete for Allardyce. His reward was the sack 72 hours after the conclusion of the 2017-2018 season!

All this and a successful salvage mission at Crystal Palace has come after his ill-fated short spell as England manager in 2016 which seemed to have put him on the managerial scrapheap.

Over 500 appearances

During a 21-year playing career, Allardyce made 578 league and cup appearances. After spending his youth days at semi-professional level with Dudley Town, he joined Bolton Wanderers in 1969 and spent nine seasons as a player with the Trotters. During his time with them, Bolton were promoted to the First Division in 1978. It was the most productive spell of his playing days.

He spent much of the 1980s on the road, playing for no fewer than eight clubs. This included a brief period playing in the North American Soccer League with the Tampa Bay Rowdies and a second 14-game spell with Bolton Wanderers in the 1985-1986 season. A year later, he won promotion out of the Fourth Division with Preston North End, also earning a spot in the PFA Team of the Year.

Early coaching days

Allardyce was hired as a player-coach by Brian Talbot at West Bromwich Albion in February 1989. He spent the rest of the season managing and occasionally playing for the reserves before being promoted to first-team coaching duties. That role ended in January 1991 when he and Talbot were sacked following the Baggies shock FA Cup exit at the hands of non-league Woking.

So, ‘Big Sam’ went to Ireland and despite huge financial pressures, he managed to guide Limerick to promotion into the Irish Premier Division. After a year in Ireland, he returned to English shores, coaching at Preston North End. When manager Les Chapman was sacked 10 games into the campaign, Sam had a stint as caretaker manager but despite promise, he was overlooked for the job permanently by the Preston hierarchy. He left after 18 months at Deepdale, frustrated by being forced to work at youth team level after his taste of first-team management.

His first permanent managerial breakthrough came at Blackpool, who appointed him manager in July 1994. In two seasons at Bloomfield Road, he took them to 12th and 3rd place finishes in the Second Division. After narrowly missing out on promotion in 1996, losing in the play-off semi-finals to Bradford City, Allardyce was sacked by Chairman Owen Oyston. Five years after his departure, he said: “I was stunned but it didn’t put me off football management otherwise I would never have returned. Looking back, Blackpool probably did me a favour.”

In January 1997, he returned to management with Notts County, who were struggling in the lower reaches of Division Two. He arrived too late to save them from relegation but earned them instant promotion as Third Division champions in 1997-1998, becoming the first post-war side to earn promotion from any division in the month of March.

He remained at County until October 1999, resigning to return to Bolton Wanderers.

The spirit of Bolton

Allardyce did inherit a talented squad that had just missed out on promotion the previous season via the play-offs. Among the players at his disposal were Eidur Gudjohnsen, Dean Holdsworth, Claus Jensen and Mark Fish. Despite being in the bottom half when he took over, Bolton did reach the First Division play-offs but came up short at the semi-final hurdle, losing to Ipswich Town over two legs.

There were no such mistakes in 2000-2001. After three years in the First Division wilderness, Bolton returned to the Premier League with a 3-0 play-off final victory over Preston North End. Now, ‘Big Sam’ had his chance in the big time.

It was a remarkable start. Bolton won their first three matches to top the table in August, including a 2-1 victory over Liverpool FC, who had won five trophies in the calendar year of 2001. In October, reigning champions Manchester United were added to the list of scalps and Bolton finished in 16th place and avoided relegation for the first time in their Premier League existence.

It was at this point when Allardyce was able to use his astuteness in the transfer market, bringing in big European names that seemed to be at the twilight of their careers. They included Bruno N’Gotty, Youri Djorkaeff, Ivan Campo and Jay-Jay Okocha. The 2002-2003 Premier League season was a real struggle but some inspirational displays from Okocha, most notably on the final day saw the Trotters just about avoid the drop at the expense of a much-more expensively assembled West Ham United squad.

That was Bolton’s last season of survival struggle. They enjoyed a real purple patch from 2003 to 2007. Allardyce took them to the 2004 League Cup final although they lost 2-1 in the showpiece event to Middlesbrough. They finished in the Premier League’s top 10 in four successive campaigns, including a stunning 6th place finish in 2004-2005 and fans at The Reebok Stadium enjoyed European football for the first time.

All this success led to Allardyce being shortlisted for the England job in the run-up to the 2006 World Cup finals. He was interviewed for the post but lost out to Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren, who was Sven-Goran Eriksson’s assistant at the time. In 2007, Allardyce’s relationship with owner Phil Gartside became strained when he was refused more money to spend on players to make a bigger push for Champions League qualification. With two games left to play in 2006-2007, he resigned and was replaced by his assistant, Sammy Lee.

Victim of the Venky’s

Just two days after the season finished, Allardyce was confirmed as Newcastle United manager but it turned out to be an unhappy eight months on Tyneside. When he got the contract to manage the team, Freddie Shepherd was chairman but he was soon replaced at the helm by Mike Ashley.

Not the owner’s man, he was on a hiding to nothing and parted company in January 2008 after a disappointing run of results which included a Boxing Day defeat to relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic and collecting just one point from a possible six against hapless Derby County.

After 11 months on the sidelines, Sam returned to the dugout in December 2008 as the new manager of Blackburn Rovers. Blackburn were second-bottom and had lost five games on the bounce before his arrival. They went nine games unbeaten immediately on his arrival and guided them to safety in 15th position.

Despite being forced to sell Stephen Warnock and Roque Santa Cruz in the summer 2009 transfer window, Allardyce managed to balance the books and took Blackburn to a 10th place finish in 2009-2010 and a League Cup semi-final, where they lost 7-4 on aggregate to Aston Villa. Owner John Williams put the club up for sale in the summer of 2010 and four months into the 2010-2011 campaign, Blackburn became the first Premier League club to come under Indian ownership when the Venky’s took control.

Although Blackburn were sitting in a fairly secure 13th place in December 2010, he was sacked by the owners 24 hours after a late 2-1 defeat in the Lancashire Derby to his former club, Bolton Wanderers. His departure surprised many, including his great friend, Sir Alex Ferguson. One of Allardyce’s coaches, Steve Kean took over but Blackburn went down in May 2012 and haven’t been back in the Premier League since.

Revitalising West Ham

In June 2011, he was given the task of revitalising West Ham United, who had just been relegated from the Premier League. During the course of his first full season at Upton Park, 25 players left and 19 others arrived. It was mission accomplished as West Ham returned to the top-flight after just one season away, defeating Blackpool 2-1 in the play-off final.

Another 11 players arrived in the summer of 2012 including the likes of Matt Jarvis, Andy Carroll and James Collins. West Ham finished in a solid 10th place in 2012-2013 and at the end of the season; he extended his contract by a further two years.

The 2013-2014 season was much tougher and after back-to-back heavy defeats in cup ties in January 2014 at the hands of Nottingham Forest and Manchester City, ‘Big Sam’ received the dreaded vote of confidence from owners David Gold and David Sullivan, who vowed to stick by him despite growing fan pressure. Their loyalty was rewarded when Allardyce won the Manager of the Month award for February 2014 after steering the Hammers to four successive victories. They eventually finished in an uninspiring but safe 13th.

Teddy Sheringham was bought in as an attacking coach in 2014-2015 in an attempt to satisfy annoyed fans and try to give West Ham a more attacking feel to their play. It worked early on and the Londoners sat in fourth place on Christmas Day. However, they fell away dramatically in the second half of the campaign, fading to 12th place. Moments after the final whistle blew on West Ham’s campaign at St James’ Park, it was confirmed his contract would not be renewed by the board. The decision was amicable with Sam deciding to take a break from management.

That pause wouldn’t last long though…

Saving Sunderland…then the England call

In October 2015, he answered the call to help out Sunderland. The Black Cats were second-bottom and without a win from their first eight games. Dick Advocaat had resigned and it was up to Allardyce to keep the survival specialists afloat again in the Premier League.

Although there was an early Tyne & Wear Derby victory, results didn’t come in the early months and going into 2016, Sunderland were seven points off safety and second-bottom. He then made some astute signings in January, bringing in Jan Kirchhoff and Lamine Kone to shore up the backline and adding some creative spark with the addition of Wahbi Khazri.

On 16th April, Sunderland recorded a priceless 3-0 away win at Carrow Road against relegation rivals Norwich City which put survival in their hands. Back-to-back home  victories over Chelsea and Everton in the last eight days of the season secured another Great Escape for Sunderland.

Then, the call came to manage his country, 10 years after his near-miss with the role. England was his biggest challenge. It was an appointment that lasted just 67 days and one match. Adam Lallana scored the only goal of a 1-0 victory in a World Cup 2018 qualification match against Slovakia. It left him with a 100% win ratio but not a record he wants to remember.

In September 2016, The Daily Telegraph began an investigation into bribery within the game, posting a series of allegations about several senior figures. One was a video where reporters posing as businessmen filmed Allardyce allegedly offering to give advice on how to get around on FA rules on player third-party ownership. With searing public pressure growing, he parted company with the FA via mutual consent just over two months after landing his dream role. It looked like his managerial career was in tatters.

Salvation with Palace

He was back though in the Premier League dugout just three months later when Crystal Palace turned to him after firing Alan Pardew. He guided them to survival on the penultimate weekend as they defeated Hull City 4-0, consigning them to relegation in the process. Again, his signings were smart with title-winner Jeff Schlupp, Patrick van Aanholt and Luka Milivojevic among the January arrivals. There were victories in the run-in too over Arsenal, eventual champions Chelsea and Liverpool FC.

He resigned in May 2017 and hinted that the job he’d completed at Selhurst Park would be his last club position. However, he was back for his seventh spell at a Premier League side in November, signing a two-year contract to become Everton manager. Victory in Unsworth’s final match as interim boss meant he took over with the club sitting 13th but just a couple of points clear of the relegation zone. He guided them to a seven-match unbeaten run, taking them away from danger.

Despite a horrific away record, Goodison Park became a tougher place for sides to come with just the two Manchester clubs winning on Merseyside after his arrival at the club. Everton finished in eighth place and he had been hoping to build or even match his best-ever top-flight finish with the Toffees in 2018-2019 before being dismissed on 16th May 2018.

If there’s a great survivor of the management game in today’s industry, look no further than Sam Allardyce. Don’t be surprised to see him back in the dugout at a club who need a saviour next season.

Great Goals: Pajtim Kasami – Crystal Palace vs. FULHAM (October 2013)

Now playing for FC Sion in Switzerland, there are two things Pajtim Kasami is probably known for. One is a brief fling with X-Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger, the other for this amazing long-range volley in October 2013 against Crystal Palace.

It was a London Derby which both sides needed to win as both teams had made slow starts to the 2013-2014 season. Palace had scored early on but this goal from Kasami completely shifted the momentum away from the home side. Sascha Riether claimed the assist as his long ball found Kasami. The Swiss international controlled his pass superbly on his chest and with his second touch, produced an outstanding volley that Julian Speroni had simply no chance of saving.

Fulham won 4-1 and Ian Holloway left his position as Crystal Palace manager two days later. It didn’t quite win Goal of the Season for 2013-2014 but it was a strike that was talked about all over the country.