Tag Archives: featured

Memorable Matches: Newcastle United 1-2 Sunderland (August 1999)

Goalscorers: Kieron Dyer 28, Niall Quinn 64, Kevin Phillips 75

Teams:

Newcastle United: Tommy Wright, Nikos Dabizas, Didier Domi, Alain Goma, Warren Barton, Jamie McClen, Gary Speed, Kieron Dyer, Nolberto Solano, Paul Robinson (Duncan Ferguson 57), Silvio Maric (Alan Shearer 72)

Sunderland: Thomas Sorensen, Michael Gray, Steve Bould, Paul Butler, Chris Makin, Alex Rae, Stefan Schwarz (Kevin Ball 69), Gavin McCann, Nicky Summerbee, Niall Quinn, Kevin Phillips

Referee: Graham Poll, Attendance: 36,420

The Tyne & Wear derby has always been a passionate battle for supremacy and in August 1999, Newcastle United boss Ruud Gullit was under tremendous pressure. His side had made a terrible start to the season, conceding 11 goals in four matches and collecting just one point; a 3-3 draw with Wimbledon days earlier. His next move would ultimately seal his fate.

Captain Alan Shearer had been suspended for the Wimbledon match following a controversial red card on the opening day of the season at home to Aston Villa. He was expected to lead the line for this massive confrontation. However, Gullit incredibly took the decision to bench his skipper along with his strike partner Duncan Ferguson. In came rookie Paul Robinson and the untried Silvio Maric. It was a baffling decision amidst reports of a power struggle for supremacy at the club between the manager and his skipper.

Shearer could only watch on during a match that was played at a high-tempo despite the filthy weather conditions. Newcastle started well and took the lead in the 27th minute. Robinson did a good job in difficult circumstances and he created the opening goal for Kieron Dyer. Dyer, a summer signing from Ipswich Town was played in by Robinson and he chipped the ball over Thomas Sorensen as the Dane came out to block down the angle. It was his first Newcastle goal and good enough to ensure the home side went into the half-time interval 1-0 ahead.

It was the fourth time in a row that Newcastle had led a match this season and on all three previous occasions, they’d thrown away that position. The crowd must have feared the worst then when Sunderland equalised midway through the second half. The towering presence of Niall Quinn was too much for Newcastle’s defenders. His header flew into the back of the net from Nicky Summerbee’s free-kick delivery.

By now, Shearer had been thrown on by Gullit as he finally withdrew Maric who looked completely overawed by the occasion. Less than two minutes after the change, Sunderland were ahead through a wonderful moment provided by Quinn’s strike partner, Kevin Phillips. Back-up goalkeeper Tommy Wright came out from his goal to smother Phillips’ first attempt at goal. The ball returned to Phillips and he produced a swerving lob from an improbable angle that beat Wright all ends up and ended in the top corner.

Although Kevin Ball almost spared the Magpies’ blushes with a spectacular own goal in the final moments, Newcastle general response after going behind was lacklustre. Sunderland had the bragging rights and Gullit was out of a job. He resigned two days later. Sir Bobby Robson was his successor and guided the club to a safe mid-table finish, whilst getting Shearer back in the goals.

This was Sunderland’s night. It was the evening where Ruud Gullit gambled and lost big time.

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Great Goals: Anthony Martial – MANCHESTER UNITED vs. Liverpool FC (September 2015)

On transfer deadline day in August 2015, Manchester United paid big money to sign Frenchman Anthony Martial from AS Monaco. Once all the instalments eventually go through on the deal, Martial will become the most expensive teenager of all-time.

He started on the bench for his debut match. Manchester United welcomed arch-enemies in Liverpool FC to Old Trafford and the first half was a drab affair between two teams who had both seen better days. Martial was introduced to the game at half-time and made a solid impression to start with as United went into a 2-0 lead through goals from Daley Blind and Ander Herrera. The visitors’ were back in the game through a wonderful goal of their own by Christian Benteke before Martial’s magical moment.

From the wide position, he cuts inside, teasing and scaring the life out of Martin Skrtel. Martial beats the big Slovakian and then produces the perfect finish, not only securing United’s victory but immediately becoming a fan favourite. Welcome to the Premier League Anthony Martial!

Iconic Moments: Friedel denied (February 2004)

Not many goalkeepers have had the honour of scoring goals in the Premier League. Brad Friedel is part of an exclusive club which consists of just four other shot-stoppers.

The American was playing for Blackburn Rovers when he scored his only goal in professional football, although there would be no overall celebration for Friedel. Blackburn were playing away at The Valley against Charlton Athletic and made a horrible start. Carlton Cole opened the scoring after 10 minutes and before half-time, Jason Euell had doubled the Addicks’ lead.

Graeme Souness made some tactical readjustments at half-time and brought on both Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke, who made a difference. Cole reduced the deficit 16 minutes from time when he intercepted a wayward backpass. Blackburn pushed forward for the equaliser and they got it in stoppage time from the most unlikely source. In a goalmouth scramble, Friedel’s left-footed shot ended up in the back of Charlton’s net. It looked like the visitors had snatched a draw but heartache would follow.

Happy with the draw, Blackburn suddenly backed off and Charlton were clinical. From 25-yards out, Claus Jensen’s delicate volley evaded Friedel’s grasp and left him devastated. Charlton’s three-game losing streak was over as they won 3-2. It was a personal milestone for Brad Friedel but he probably didn’t feel like celebrating about it too much afterwards.

Premier League Files: Callum Wilson

Premier League Career: AFC Bournemouth (2015-PRESENT)

He is still only 25 and that means Callum Wilson should have plenty of time to demonstrate his true potential. Sadly, two wretched injuries whilst playing in the Premier League with AFC Bournemouth suggests that his time could unfortunately be limited. That would be a real shame for a player who has shown a ruthless approach to finding the back of the net when he is free of injury.

Born in Coventry, Wilson started his career with his hometown club and made his professional debut in 2009 during a surprising League Cup reverse to Hartlepool United. Naturally, it took time for Callum to remove the raw edge to his game. Loan spells in the non-league with Kettering Town and Tamworth certainly did no harm to this.

In 2013-2014, he established himself as a regular in the starting XI at Coventry City. Wilson was often one of the bright sparks in a club that was often lurching from one crisis to another thanks to dreadful running of the club by its owners. He finished the third-highest scorer in League One with 22 goals and earned himself a place in the League One PFA Team of the Year. That was despite spending two months on the sidelines due to a dislocated shoulder. He won three gongs at the club’s end of season awards and developed an excellent partnership with his strike partner, Leon Clarke.

Coventry knew that this form was always going to make Wilson a transfer target, especially with their precarious financial situation. He joined AFC Bournemouth in July 2014 for £3 million and made an immediate impact, scoring twice on his debut in a 4-0 thumping away at Huddersfield Town. He scored 20 league goals and these strikes helped the Cherries’ win promotion to the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history.

Wilson made AFC Bournemouth history in the club’s third Premier League match. He opened the scoring at Upton Park against West Ham United to score the south coast side’s first goal in the Premier League. He didn’t finish there. Wilson went on to score a hat-trick; the first treble of the 2015-2016 Premier League season.

Further goals followed against Leicester City and Sunderland. There was even talk of Roy Hodgson watching him closely for a possible England call-up. Sadly, a cruel twist of fate would await Wilson. In late September, he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the early stages of a 2-1 defeat to Stoke City. It was a sickening blow for player and club.  It was the third serious ligament injury of Bournemouth’s maiden season. Wilson would be out of action for six months but made his return in early April, arriving as a substitute in an away win at Aston Villa.

He was keen to ensure 2016-2017 would be an impressive season but much of the same story would follow. There were goals against Liverpool FC and Arsenal but in February 2017, another luckless injury in training would stop his second Premier League campaign in its tracks. Unbelievably, it was another ACL and this time, in his left knee. It has meant another lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Callum Wilson will be hoping to feature soon in the 2017-2018 Premier League season. If he can stay clear of these dreaded setbacks, he is a sharp shooter and an excellent finisher which would benefit Bournemouth significantly in what looks like a relegation battle in their third PL campaign.

Iconic Moments: Enter Wayne Rooney (October 2002)

The opening day of the 2002-2003 season saw a young teenager make his debut for Everton by the name of Wayne Rooney. Considered “Once a blue, always a blue,” the young lad from the Croxteth area of Liverpool made an early impression against Tottenham Hotspur on his debut, setting up the club’s first goal of the campaign for Mark Pembridge. The game finished 2-2 and a star was born.

However, it was Tottenham’s north London rivals, Arsenal who would feel the firm punch of Rooney a couple of months later. The Gunners arrived at Goodison Park on a 30-match unbeaten run in the Premier League and it looked like that run would extend when Freddie Ljungberg put the visitors ahead inside eight minutes. This was a stronger Everton team though and they equalised midway through the first half through Tomasz Radzinski.

Rooney was brought on in the second half by manager David Moyes and entered the national conscience in stoppage time. He collected the ball from just past the halfway line and with Arsenal defenders backing off, fancied his chances. His shot flew past David Seaman, off the underside of his crossbar and into the net. ITV commentator Clive Tydlesey commented: “Oh a brilliant goal, a brilliant goal. Remember the name, Wayne Rooney!”

Arsene Wenger was quick to praise him afterwards too, saying: “Rooney is the biggest England talent I’ve seen since I arrived in England. There has certainly not been a player under 20 as good as him since I became a manager here.”

Rooney was crowned BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year in 2002, was nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award and soon earned himself his first professional contract. He moved on to Manchester United in August 2004 and became the club’s all-time record goalscorer, surpassing Sir Bobby Charlton in the early weeks of 2017.

His career went full circle in 2017 when he returned to Everton on a free transfer and scored his 200th Premier League goal in a draw with Manchester City in August 2017.

It wasn’t just the Premier League that was introduced to Wayne Rooney in October 2002; it was the football world as a whole.

Premier League Files: Steve Stone

Premier League Career: Nottingham Forest (1992-1993), (1994-1997), (1998-1999), Aston Villa (1999-2002), Portsmouth (2003-2005)

Injuries were part of Steve Stone’s football career but when he managed to stay clear of fitness battles, he proved to everyone what a decent footballer he was. His best spell came in the 1995-1996 season with Nottingham Forest.

Stone scored a series of excellent goals during this campaign including a winner at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur and a stunning equaliser at home to Aston Villa.

His performances with his club were recognised by Terry Venables who handed the midfielder his international bow in October 1995 in a goalless draw with Norway in Oslo. A month later, Stone came off the bench to score in a 3-1 friendly win over Switzerland and also found the back of the net at Wembley in a draw against Portugal. He made nine appearances for the Three Lions’ and was part of the Euro 96 squad that reached the semi-finals on home soil.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t force his way into Glenn Hoddle’s plans on an international scale and that was down to injury. During his career at Forest, he suffered three broken legs including one in pre-season of 1996 which meant he missed the club’s entire 1996-1997 season as they were relegated to Division One.

Stone recovered and although he missed an absolute sitter in an away match against Reading in the First Division, he played an integral role in Dave Bassett’s team that returned to the Premier League at the first attempt. Sadly, relegation swiftly followed the following season and after making 229 appearances for the club, Stone was sold for £5.5 million to Aston Villa in the summer of 1999.

He became a vital player for John Gregory and figured frequently during his tenure including an appearance in the 2000 FA Cup Final; the last cup final to be played underneath the famed Twin Towers. When Gregory departed in January 2002, Stone fell out of favour with Graham Taylor and was transferred to Portsmouth.

He returned to the Premier League under Harry Redknapp’s stewardship in 2003 and even scored a winning goal against Manchester United in April 2004 that helped Pompey achieve survival in their maiden Premier League season. Stone was released in 2005 by Alain Perrin and he finished his career at Leeds United, retiring in December 2006 after further injury issues.

Stone moved into coaching and worked with the reserves and first-team at Newcastle United from 2010-2015. He was let go by the club after their near-miss with relegation in 2014-2015 and now spends the majority of his time between England and Dubai.

Referees in the Middle: Paul Durkin

Premier League Career: 1992-2004

First Premier League Match: Arsenal 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday (28 August 1992)

Final Premier League Match: Arsenal 2-1 Leicester City (15 May 2004)

Paul Durkin was one of the most respected referees in the Premier League and also one of the best. He spent 12 seasons in the middle, beginning and finishing his Premier League career ironically at the same ground, Highbury.

Hailing from the Isle of Portland in Dorset, Durkin refereed 242 games across 12 campaigns, showing 595 yellow cards and dishing out 29 red cards during his career.

1997-1998 was Durkin’s best season. His consistent performances ultimately saw him chosen for the ultimate pinnacle in football, the World Cup.  Early in the season, he took charge of a tempestuous match between Bolton Wanderers and Manchester United. In the 34th minute, Bolton’s Nathan Blake and Gary Pallister of United started to trade punches with each other. What happened next was something more akin to be seen at a rugby match. A 21-man brawl followed with only Bolton goalkeeper Keith Branagan staying out of the melee. Durkin kept his composure and sent off Blake and Pallister for starting the incident in the first place.

A month later, Durkin was at the centre of another flashpoint when he was physically pushed by French midfielder Emmanuel Petit of Arsenal during a goalless draw with Aston Villa. Again, he didn’t produce any dramatics and simply flashed the red card at Petit, who was subsequently banned for three matches.

Often called up to the big matches, Durkin had the honour of taking charge of the 1998 FA Cup final between Arsenal and Newcastle United. He also refereed the 2003 League Cup final involving Liverpool FC and Manchester United. In 2004, he did a rare thing for referees and faced the television cameras after a 0-0 stalemate at Old Trafford when Manchester United played Newcastle United.

Both teams had debatable moments in the match and Durkin admitted he’d been wrong not to award Newcastle a penalty when Alan Shearer was tripped by Tim Howard.

He told Sky Sports: “If I had seen the incident, clearly I would have given it. I was expecting the ball to be playing up field, so I was a long way off when it happened and I wasn’t certain there had been any contact. It’s disappointing because you like to get the big decisions right but you only get a split-second. I looked at it again on TV and Newcastle can count themselves unfortunate.”

Durkin’s final match was the historic game at Highbury when Arsenal completed an unbeaten season in 2003-2004 with victory over Leicester City. After appearing on the short-lived ITV gameshow Simply the Best as a referee, Durkin now works as a referee assessor for the FA.

Honest, straight-talking and widely respected within many quarters of the game, Paul Durkin is still considered as one of the best referees across the first quarter of a century in the Premier League.

Shock Results: Cardiff City 3-2 Manchester City (August 2013)

Goalscorers: Edin Dzeko 51, Aron Gunnarsson 59, Fraizer Campbell 78, 86, Alvaro Negredo 90

Teams:

Cardiff City: David Marshall, Ben Turner, Steven Caulker, Andrew Taylor, Matthew Connolly, Kim Bo-Kyung (Jordon Mutch 90), Gary Medel, Aron Gunnarsson, Peter Whittingham, Fraizer Campbell (Andreas Cornelius 90), Craig Bellamy (Don Cowie 83)

Manchester City: Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott, Javi Garcia, Gael Clichy, Pablo Zabaleta, Fernandinho (James Milner 77), Yaya Toure, David Silva, Jesus Navas (Samir Nasri 55), Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko (Alvaro Negredo 69)

Referee: Lee Probert, Attendance: 27,068

This was Cardiff City’s first home game in the Premier League and it couldn’t have been much harder than against a highly-fancied Manchester City side. Manuel Pellegrini was the new manager of the Citizens’ and he started brilliantly with a convincing 4-0 win over Newcastle United. This though was a lesson for the Chilean that English football was not going to be a walk in the park.

Cardiff might have lost 2-0 on the opening weekend away to West Ham United but they were determined to put in a performance than would send the fans home happy. They did more than that. The hosts started full of energy and running and controlled the first 30 minutes. However, they struggled to trouble England number one goalkeeper Joe Hart. Peter Whittingham’s free-kick which flew wide was the closest they came to opening the scoring.

The visitors’ started to test the home defence and nearly went into the interval leading. Only last-gasp defending from Ben Turner stopped Yaya Toure from scoring. They did strike though in the early moments of the second half. 30 yards out, Edin Dzeko tried his luck and the Bosnian’s shot drove past a helpless David Marshall.

Pellegrini’s side had wrestled control but they only held onto their lead for just eight minutes. Cardiff dug deep and got a bit of fortune with their equaliser. Hart saved well from Fraizer Campbell but the rebound fell nicely to Icelandic international Aron Gunnarsson who scored the club’s first-ever Premier League goal.

The home supporters went mad for this moment but even better would follow. With 12 minutes left to play, the upset was on. Whittingham delivered a dangerous corner into the heart of the Manchester City penalty area. Hart failed to show his commanding presence and Campbell was in the right place to score from close-range. It might have come off his shoulder but he didn’t care and nor did the fans inside the Cardiff City Stadium.

Pellegrini was missing skipper Vincent Kompany from this game because of injury. Spaniard Javi Garcia had been deployed as a makeshift central defender and it is fair to say he struggled to cope in the new position. Ex-Manchester United youngster Campbell put in the best performance of his Premier League career. He added his second three minutes from time, heading home following a corner with the visiting defence once more flat-footed. Cardiff’s first win in the top-flight of English football since 1962 was secured.

Substitute Alvaro Negredo did pull a goal back in the dying moments but no-one could deny Cardiff victory. In the final reckoning, Manchester City became champions and Cardiff were relegated but on this day, this was another example that no Premier League match has ever been decided on paper.

The Managers: Kenny Dalglish

Premier League Clubs Managed: Blackburn Rovers (1992-1995), Newcastle United (1997-1998), Liverpool FC (2011-2012)

As a player, Kenny Dalglish’s achievements are second-to-none. As a manager, his achievements are almost unprecedented. He was a born winner and experienced the ultimate highs and tragic lows as a manager.

In a playing career that spanned over 20 years, he won numerous honours with both Celtic and Liverpool FC, scored a hatful of goals and produced moments of sheer brilliance that the fans on the terraces at Parkhead and Anfield never forget.

Kenny won the European Cup three times as a player and scored the winning goal in the 1978 final against Club Brugge. In terms of league honours, he won 10 league titles, along with 10 domestic cups and the UEFA Super Cup in 1977. His career is a glittering one and he is often considered the greatest player to have ever played for both Celtic and Liverpool FC.

His management breakthrough came as a surprise and in tumultuous circumstances.

Picking up after Heysel

In 1985, the Heysel Stadium disaster before the European Cup final had sent shockwaves around the world. English clubs were immediately banned from participating in European competition for the rest of the decade. Joe Fagan decided to step down as Liverpool FC’s first-team manager. Dalglish took the reins as player-manager.

In his first season in the dugout, Liverpool FC won the double. It was Dalglish who scored the winning goal on the final day of the season at Stamford Bridge to win the 1986 First Division title for the Reds.’ A week later, they beat Merseyside rivals Everton in the FA Cup final. This was during the height of dominance on Merseyside in the British game. He had come straight in and achieved a unique feat as a rookie. More was to come.

He signed the likes of Peter Beardsley, John Barnes and John Aldridge as Liverpool continued their supreme grip on the English game. Further titles followed in 1988 and 1990, with runners-up spots in 87 and 89. The Double would elude them twice. In 1988, underdogs Wimbledon beat Dalglish’s Reds’ in the FA Cup final. In 1989, it was a last-gasp strike from Michael Thomas that snatched the league title for Arsenal at Anfield with moments remaining of the campaign. Liverpool won the FA Cup that season on a highly-charged afternoon.

Hillsborough

Saturday, 15 April 1989 will remain the blackest day in English football history. It was a sunny afternoon as Liverpool FC fans flocked to Sheffield to see their team play Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup semi-final. 96 supporters would not come home; crushed on the terraces of Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium.

In the aftermath, Dalglish attended many funerals of the victims and his presence on the club, the grieving families and the city has been described as immense. The tragedy affected him deeply and Liverpool’s victory in the cup final that season against Everton was a victory that was much more than just a football match.

In February 1991, the two Merseyside teams played out a belting FA Cup fifth round tie which finished 4-4 at Goodison Park. Two days later, Dalglish shocked everyone by resigning as manager. This was despite Liverpool still being three points clear at the top of the First Division table. All the trauma and strain had caught up with him but he would be back – both in management and later on in his career with the club who he has always seen as home.

Changing the face of Blackburn

After seven months out of the game, Kenny Dalglish returned to management with Blackburn Rovers in October 1991. He led Rovers back to the top-flight of English football for the first time since 1966 with victory over Leicester City in the Second Division playoffs. It meant Blackburn would play in the inaugural FA Premier League season.

Backed by beloved Blackburn fan and steel magnet Jack Walker, Dalglish wasted little time in making the club one of the best in the early Premier League Years. He broke the British transfer record to sign Alan Shearer in 1992 from Southampton and repeated the feat two years later to snare Chris Sutton away from Norwich City.

Other notable buys included winger Stuart Ripley, midfielder Paul Warhurst and goalkeeper Tim Flowers. Blackburn were looking to go all the way and become champions of England. After finishing fourth and second in the first two seasons, 1994-1995 was the year that Walker’s dreams would come true.

Blackburn topped the table from late November onwards and barely surrendered top spot but they were pushed all the way by reigning champions Manchester United. A late wobble saw an eight-point lead diminish to just two by the final day of the season. In an ironic twist, Blackburn were at Anfield to play Dalglish’s former side, Liverpool FC whilst Manchester United travelled to Upton Park to face West Ham United.

Alex Ferguson had been playing his usual mind games tactic, hinting that Liverpool would roll over and allow Blackburn to win to ensure Manchester United wouldn’t win the championship. It didn’t go like that. Liverpool won 2-1 with a late free-kick from Jamie Redknapp. Seconds later, the full-time whistle went in London. Manchester United had failed to beat West Ham and that meant the result on Merseyside was inconsequential. Blackburn Rovers were champions of England for the first time in 81 years. The title meant that Dalglish was only the fourth football manager in history to lead two different clubs to top-flight league championships, after Tom Watson, Herbert Chapman and Brian Clough.

Replacing King Kev on Tyneside

After that title success of 1995, Dalglish retired as Blackburn manager and moved into a Director of Football role where he would be replaced by his assistant Ray Harford. He left the club for good a year later.

In January 1997, he took over at Newcastle United, replacing Kevin Keegan who had abruptly resigned. Dalglish’s impact at Newcastle was limited. He did guide them to a runners-up spot in the 1996-1997 league campaign and spearheaded a famous victory over Barcelona in the following season’s UEFA Champions League group stage. However, he sold the likes of David Ginola, Les Ferdinand and Lee Clark, replacing them with veterans Stuart Pearce, Ian Rush and John Barnes.

Two games into the 1998-1999 season, he left the club. It is still unknown whether he resigned or was sacked. Either way, it is the only managerial period of his career which didn’t bring any silverware or much positive impact.

He went back to his first club Celtic and had a brief spell as manager there after Barnes was fired following a shambolic home League Cup defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Leaving in the summer of 2000, it would be another decade before Kenny was back in the dugout.

The second coming

In April 2009, Dalglish returned to Liverpool FC, taking a role within the club’s youth academy. He also became a club ambassador. When Rafa Benitez quit in June 2010 after relations with the American owners deteriorated, Dalglish expressed a desire to return to the management post. However, it was Fulham boss Roy Hodgson who got the job.

As soon as the fans got wind of the news that Dalglish had shown interest in the role, Hodgson was toast. Liverpool’s form was terrible and they looked like being involved in a relegation scrap as 2011 began. Hodgson left after a 3-1 defeat to Blackburn which was the club’s ninth defeat of the Premier League season. 24 hours after returning from a holiday in Dubai, Dalglish returned as caretaker manager until the end of the season. After losing his first match back; an FA Cup tie at Manchester United, he admitted it was “a big challenge.”

In the early weeks of his second coming, Fernando Torres was sold for a British transfer record to Chelsea but in came Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez. Performances started to improve and so did results. There were impressive wins over Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City and a 5-2 battering of Fulham at Craven Cottage. By the end of the season, Dalglish had signed a three-year deal to remain as manager and he guided the club to a respectable sixth in the final standings. A pretty good return considering he’d taken over with the club 13th and just four points clear of the drop zone.

In the summer of 2011, Charlie Adam, Craig Bellamy and Jordan Henderson were among the new recruits. Despite some frustrating draws at Anfield, the Reds’ strong away form meant they sat fifth at the turn of the year. However, they faded badly in the second half of the campaign and ended a distant eighth in the table, even below Merseyside rivals Everton. It was their worst Premier League points’ return in a 38-game season. Dalglish’s strong defence of Suarez after he was involved in a racism incident with Manchester United’s Patrice Evra was criticised and apologises only made after the owners insisted. He did win the League Cup on penalties in 2012 but three days after the season ended, Dalglish was sacked and replaced by Brendan Rodgers.

He is still an Anfield club hero and is now on the board at Liverpool as a non-executive director. Kenny Dalglish achieved so much in the game of football. His honours’ list means he will go down as one of British football’s most successful players and managers.

Premier League Files: Edin Dzeko

Premier League Career: Manchester City (2011-2015)

Known as ‘The Bosnian Diamond’ in his homeland, Edin Dzeko has become of the greatest natural finishers in recent times.  Wherever he has been in his career, he has scored goals and this he continues to do now in Serie A with AS Roma. During his time in England, Dzeko won two Premier League titles with Manchester City and played a significant role in the greatest finish ever to a Premier League season in 2012.

However, it was in the Bundesliga where Dzeko began to carve out a reputation for prudent finishing abilities. In the 2008-2009 campaign, he formed a partnership with the Brazilian forward Grafite at VfL Wolfsburg that is among the best ever seen in German football. Between the two players, they scored 54 goals which means their combined total is the most successful in Bundesliga history. Wolfsburg won the title for the first time in their history that season. Having narrowly missed out on the ‘Torjägerkanone’ in 2008-2009, Dzeko’s tally of 22 goals in 2009-2010 was enough to take the most prestigious goalscoring honour in the Bundesliga. He remains Wolfsburg’s all-time record goalscorer in the German top-flight.

In January 2011, a transfer fee was agreed of £27 million between Wolfsburg and Manchester City for Dzeko to make the move to the Premier League. It was the second-highest transfer fee Manchester City had ever paid out for a player at the time. He made his debut later in the month at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers but would have to wait three months for his first Premier League goal; a winner in the 1-0 away success against Blackburn Rovers.

In 2011-2012, Dzeko started in red-hot form. He scored six goals in the first three matches of the season, including a devastating display at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur. Dzeko scored four times in City’s 5-1 win, becoming the first Citizens’ player to score four goals in a Premier League match. His goalscoring exploits won him the Premier League Player of the Month award for August 2011. As the season wore on, Dzeko would have to fight for his regular place in the team but he made a valuable contribution on the final day at home to relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers. City were trailing 2-1 going into the dying embers when Dzeko headed home from a corner in the 92nd minute to level the scores. Sergio Aguero then scored the famous winner that ensured City won their first league title in 44 years. The Bosnian forward later said his goal in this match was the most important of his career.

By 2012-2013, Dzeko’s place was mainly warming the bench at Manchester City which was extremely unfortunate because his goalscoring repertoire would have seen him walk into many other starting XI sides. He was making telling impacts though from the bench, scoring 14 goals including winning efforts away at Fulham and West Bromwich Albion. Roberto Mancini left at the end of the season and Dzeko was hoping this would signal a change in his selection usage.

Not initially under Manuel Pellegrini though as the Chilean preferred a partnership of Aguero and new arrival Alvaro Negredo in attack. However, a shoulder injury to the latter in January 2014 saw Dzeko get his chance and he grabbed it with both hands. In March, he scored the fastest away goal at Old Trafford in Premier League history, netting after just 43 seconds in City’s handsome 3-0 victory over their city rivals. Dzeko also scored vital doubles at the backend of the campaign against Everton and Aston Villa as City managed to haul in and overtake Liverpool FC in the final weeks of the season and therefore, claim a second Premier League title in three seasons.

Edin left Manchester City at the end of the 2014-2015 season and moved to Italian football. After a so-so first campaign in the Italian capital, he had an impressive individual campaign in 2016-2017, scoring 39 goals in all competitions and netting an impressive European hat-trick away to Villarreal. Edin Dzeko’s goalscoring record is among the best and Manchester City fans will always thank him for being a crucial part of that day in 2012 when they finally became the kings of English football.

The Managers: Tony Pulis

Premier League Clubs Managed: Stoke City (2008-2013), Crystal Palace (2013-2014), West Bromwich Albion (2015-PRESENT)

In 2018, Tony Pulis will celebrate his 60th birthday. The Welshman has become a specialist in stabilising Premier League teams. He gets the absolute maximum out of all of his players and whilst his teams might lack the overall superstar who will wow supporters, he will ensure his sides are tough to break down and specialise in their strengths to win football matches.

Pulis has attracted criticism from some of the modern day fans. Some feel his tactics are dull and make games to watch uninspiring. Sometimes, it is a fair point but if you asked fans of his current club West Bromwich Albion, you would want to survive in the Premier League. Survival is more important than substance and Pulis does this brilliantly.

He now been managing for the best part of 25 years and it took a while to reach the promise land with Stoke City in 2008. Since then, Tony has been a regular fixture in the Premier League managerial dugout.

Playing attempts

Like many before him, Pulis went into management after the end of his playing career. He spent 17 years kicking footballs rather than coaching footballers and being a defender, you can see why he always builds his teams from the back.

During his playing days, Pulis played for five teams in his career. He even spent one season playing abroad in Hong Kong for Happy Valley – one of the most successful clubs in the country with six domestic championships.

He began his playing career at Bristol Rovers and also featured for local club Newport County AFC, Gillingham and AFC Bournemouth. He would go on to manage the latter two clubs in his career and his break came soon than expected at Dean Court.

Filling Harry’s shoes

Coaching was always in Tony’s mind, even in his early playing career. He obtained his FA coaching badge at just 19, followed by his UEFA ‘A’ licence aged 21 – making him one of the youngest professional players ever to have obtained the qualification.

He wound down his playing time with Bournemouth, eventually taking the management role in 1992 when Harry Redknapp quit, becoming Billy Bonds’ no.2 at West Ham United. A couple of 17th-place finishes weren’t anything to write home about but he was up and running and his next stop was a more successful spell at Gillingham.

He managed them for four campaigns and turned them from relegation strugglers to promotion contenders. In 1999, he took Gillingham to the Division Two playoff final and a meeting with Manchester City at Wembley. What followed next was one of the most sensational playoff finals of all-time. It looked like Pulis was going to take Gillingham up. They dominated the game and eventually took the lead through Carl Asaba, before Robert Taylor doubled the lead. Then, Manchester City produced an unbelievable turnaround to level the game at 2-2, before winning the penalty shootout 3-1. City would go onto achieve back-to-back promotions. Pulis would be out of work just weeks later. A falling out with owner Paul Scally led to his sacking for a claim of gross misconduct. He would sue Scally later for unpaid bonuses which were eventually settled out of court.

Brief spells at Bristol City and Portsmouth going into the millennium didn’t work out and it wasn’t until 2002 until he seemed to have found a home which was with Stoke City. However, that wouldn’t be without dramas of its’ own.

Reaching the promise land eventually at Stoke

Tony took over a team struggling in the First Division in November 2002 and managed to grind out enough victories and points to survive relegation on the final day of the season. The loan signings of Mark Crossley and Ade Akinbiyi played a pivotal part in the Potters’ escaping the drop. Even to this day, Pulis claims this is one of his finest achievements in management.

An 11th-place finish followed in 2003-2004 but soon, relations soured between Pulis and the Icelandic owner of the club, Gunnar Gislason. Rows broke out over the club’s transfer business. Pulis was furious that his main forward, Akinbiyi was sold to Championship rivals Burnley and no proven replacement came into the club. Gislason wanted the Welshman to spread his wings and use the foreign market. It was never going to end well and he was sacked in June 2005. The official reason given was “failing to exploit the foreign transfer market.”

He went to Plymouth Argyle, who were also flying high as a Championship club and a 14th-place finish was an overachievement considering the club’s own restrained budgets and expectations. Although he enjoyed his time with the Pilgrims’, Pulis had unfinished business at Stoke and when a board takeover happened, speculation intensified that he would return to the Britannia Stadium.

Less than a year after leaving Stoke, he returned to the club as manager with Peter Coates as the new owner. He backed Pulis in the transfer market and Tony started to bring in very solid Championship players including Danny Higginbotham, Ricardo Fuller and Rory Delap. They were in the playoff shake-up for much of the 2006-2007 season but a draw on the final day against Queens Park Rangers meant they eventually finished in eighth spot. A more serious push followed in 2007-2008. Again, Pulis used the loan market to great effect, which included the arrival of Ryan Shawcross. On the final day of the campaign, Stoke’s draw with Leicester City was good enough to take them up to the Premier League for their first top-flight season in 23 years.

His Premier League break had finally arrived.

Finals and Europe visit the Britannia

Stoke immediately made the Britannia Stadium a feared place to come for opponents. Aston Villa, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur were among the early casualties to come a cropper in Staffordshire. A poor Christmas programme dropped the club into the bottom three but the January signings of James Beattie and Matthew Etherington were brilliant bits of business that allowed the club to push clear of danger.

Despite starting 2008-2009 as a favourite for relegation, Pulis took the club to an impressive 12th-place finish, securing safety three games from the end of the season. In 2009-2010, there was more progress with a run to the FA Cup quarter-finals and an 11th-place finish in the league, two points better than the previous campaign.

The achievements kept coming for Tony and the club. In 2011, Stoke thrashed Bolton Wanderers 5-0 in the FA Cup semi-finals to reach an FA Cup final for the first time in their history. Although they lost 1-0 to Manchester City in the showpiece event, City’s guaranteed Champions League participation ensured Stoke a place in the UEFA Europa League for the 2011-2012 campaign.

As Europe beckoned, a stronger squad was required. The club’s transfer record was broken to sign the likes of Wilson Palacios and Peter Crouch. Crouch’s £10million arrival meant that record had been broken for a fourth successive season. They advanced to the knockout rounds of the Europa League and only narrowly went out 2-0 on aggregate in the last 32 to former Spanish superpower Valencia.

However, despite all of this success and a strong bond with the club’s owners, Tony couldn’t break Stoke into the Premier League’s top 10. 11th in 2009-2010 remained the highest finish and as progress stagnated, he parted company with the club at the end of the 2012-2013 campaign. He took a six-month hiatus from football but was soon back to try and rescue Crystal Palace.

Reviving Palace and rejuvenating Albion

Pulis succeeded Ian Holloway in November 2013 to take over a Crystal Palace side that had won just twice and were bottom of the Premier League. It was going to be a tough job but early victories in his reign at home to West Ham United and Cardiff City suggested he could turn things around.

He exploited the January transfer market again and did some great business. Joe Ledley from Celtic, defender Scott Dann from Blackburn Rovers and Wayne Hennessey were among the five acquisitions he made. A run of five successive victories in April 2014 saw him take the Manager of the Month award and eventually, survival was comfortably achieved. To put it into context, no Palace manager had previously steered the club clear of relegation in the Premier League era. They finished 11th with 45 points and Pulis’ work was recognised. He was given the title of Premier League Manager of the Year.

However, his time at Selhurst Park would be short. Feeling he wasn’t being backed in the summer transfer market by the Palace board, he left by mutual consent just two days before the start of the 2014-2015 campaign. For the second successive season, Tony would spend the opening weeks away from the dugout.

He returned on New Years’ Day 2015 though, taking over as Head Coach at West Bromwich Albion after they dispensed with the services of Alan Irvine. There was an immediate response to his appointment. Darren Fletcher arrived from Manchester United to take over the captaincy and victories included a 3-0 win over champions Chelsea. West Brom finished 13th having looked like a serious relegation contender until Pulis’ arrival through the door at the Hawthorns.

In 2015, he broke West Brom’s transfer record to sign the nomadic Venezuelan forward Salomon Rondon and also added Jonny Evans, James McClean and Rickie Lambert to the ranks. In 2015-2016, West Brom were in no relegation danger for much of the campaign but did finish a rather uninspiring 14th. The highlights of the campaign were home victories over Arsenal and Manchester United.

2016-2017 saw Pulis finally finish a season in the top 10 as a Premier League manager at the ninth attempt of asking. Matt Phillips, Hal Robson-Kanu and Nacer Chadli for a new club-record fee were among the new arrivals and West Brom started to become a more attractive side to watch. Their 2-1 victory in November 2016 at champions Leicester City was seen as a turning point in their season – a day when they outplayed and outclassed the champions.

There was an excellent 3-1 success over a dispirited Arsenal in March 2017 and for much of the campaign, West Brom were best of the rest, looking set for an eighth place finish. Unfortunately, form tailed off after a creditable point at Old Trafford and they slipped behind Southampton and AFC Bournemouth in the final week of the season. Nevertheless, it had been a very positive season for everyone connected with West Bromwich Albion.

Although club captain Fletcher departed for Stoke after talks broke down over a new contract, Pulis has had an outstanding summer transfer window. He brought in long-time target Jay Rodriguez from Southampton, young Scottish talent Oliver Burke from RB Leipzig and the loan signing of Grzegorz Krychowiak from Paris Saint-Germain. Two wins and a draw from the club’s first four matches of 2017-2018 hints that it could be another strong season at the Hawthorns.

Tony Pulis’ ability to keep struggling clubs away from the threats of relegation can’t be questioned. He might one of the rare breed of old-fashioned managers who prefers the long ball style of play. However, it has always worked for him and there is no need to change this, especially as he has a proud record of never being relegated as a player or manager. Having just extended his contract to stay at West Bromwich Albion until 2019, expect Tony Pulis to be around in the Premier League for some time to come.

Iconic Moments: A sad goodbye for Cloughie (May 1993)

He was controversial, he was charismatic and he was cherished by all – apart from maybe those at Leeds United. Brian Clough was one of the best managers the game has ever produced. After scoring 251 goals in just 274 league appearances for Middlesbrough and Sunderland respectively, he went into management and achieved great success.

He turned Derby County from a run-of-the-mill Second Division side into the Champions of England and also guided them to the semi-finals of the European Cup. After his ill-fated 44-day spell as Leeds boss in 1974, Clough returned to the Midlands and held the helm at Nottingham Forest for 18 years. He made the club in a serial player in both the English and European game. Forest won the First Division title in 1978, four League Cups and back-to-back European Cups in 1979 and 1980.

Sadly though, his career ended on a low note as Nottingham Forest slid through the Premier League trap door in the league’s first season. Key players like Des Walker and Teddy Sheringham had been sold and there was an increasing battle the manager was having with alcohol. On the week before the club’s final home match of the 1992-1993 season, Clough announced his retirement from football management so he could spend more time with his family.

His final day at the City Ground was a highly-charged occasion but there would be no happy ending to this fairytale. Forest were beaten 2-0 by Sheffield United which consigned them to relegation. Afterwards, Clough revealed to Martin Tyler when asked why the club had gone down: “We’re not good enough, simple as that.”

After retirement, his battles with ill health and allegations of corruption dominated headlines but he still wrote an explosive monthly column for FourFourTwo magazine. He died from stomach cancer in September 2004, aged 69.

It was a sad goodbye and a sad way for one of the game’s great characters to bow out on.