Tag Archives: January

Seasonal Stories: Aston Villa (2006-2007)

The Lerner era begins

Aston Villa went under new ownership early on in the 2006-2007 season as Doug Ellis sold the club to American businessman Randy Lerner. Lerner was ambitious to start with and wanted to see his new investment pay off. There was also a new manager as Martin O’Neill returned to the Premier League after a six-year absence. It was always going to take time for the new partnership to bear fruition so although an 11th place finish sounds unremarkable, it was the first steps towards three seasons of upcoming excitement for the Villa supporters.

Squad: Thomas Sorensen, Mark Delaney, Jlloyd Samuel, Olof Mellberg, Martin Laursen, Wilfred Bouma, Aaron Hughes, Liam Ridgewell, Gary Cahill, Phil Bardsley, Didier Agathe (Left in January 2007), Gavin McCann, Steven Davis, Gareth Barry, Craig Gardner, Peter Whittingham (Left in January 2007), Isaiah Osbourne, Stiliyan Petrov, Ashley Young, John Carew, Gabby Agbonlahor, Chris Sutton, Luke Moore, Milan Baros (Left in January 2007), Juan Pablo Angel (Left in April 2007)

Staying unbeaten

Having finished a disappointing 16th in 2005-2006, there was a change in the managerial hotseat at Aston Villa. Out went David O’Leary and in came Martin O’Neill, back in management after a 12-month sabbatical. O’Neill knew the area well, having steered Leicester City to two League Cup triumphs in four seasons between 1997 and 2000.

There were no initial summer arrivals in regards to new players but that was because Villa were heading for a takeover. American businessman Randy Lerner, who owned NFL franchise Cleveland Browns completed his protracted purchase of the club towards the end of August. He took 60% of the club’s shares and succeeded Doug Ellis as owner. There was enough time for Lerner to immediately allow O’Neill the opportunity to sign his former captain at Celtic, Stiliyan Petrov on August transfer deadline day for £6.5 million.

With the limited player recruitment options and having flirted with relegation in the previous campaign, there were some pundits who were tipping Villa for the drop but that didn’t look likely after a lengthy unbeaten start to the season. In fact, it wasn’t until the 10th game of the Premier League campaign until they tasted defeat when Liverpool FC beat the Villans 3-1 at Anfield.

On the opening day, Olof Mellberg had the honour of scoring the first-ever competitive goal at Arsenal’s new home, The Emirates Stadium as Villa claimed an excellent point. The first win of O’Neill’s reign came a few days later when they recovered from a goal down to beat newly-promoted Reading 2-1. Gareth Barry scored the winner in a season where he was one of the team’s best players.

Aston Villa also claimed a 1-1 draw at champions Chelsea through a first half equaliser by Gabby Agbonlahor and Barry came to the rescue in another 1-1 draw, this time at home to Tottenham Hotspur. He scored a brilliant individual equaliser to get Juan Pablo Angel out of a deep hole. The Colombian forward had missed a penalty and scored an own goal! He would leave the club before the season ended.

TABLE ON 28th October 2006

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
3 Bolton Wanderers 10 6 2 2 10 8 +2 20
4 Portsmouth 10 6 1 3 16 6 +10 19
5 Arsenal 9 5 3 1 16 5 +11 18
6 Everton 10 4 5 1 16 9 +7 17
7 ASTON VILLA 10 3 6 1 12 9 +3 15
8 Liverpool FC 10 4 2 4 12 12 0 14

Lean winter

Aston Villa’s response to their first loss of the league season was a good one as they won their next two fixtures. Blackburn Rovers were beaten 2-0 at Villa Park and then, there was an excellent 1-0 away triumph at Everton. Chris Sutton had linked up with O’Neill again in October having been a free agent. He scored the only goal of the game at Goodison Park in what turned out to be his last-ever Premier League goal.

A lean winter followed though as an 11-game winless run saw the club plummet from the top six into 14th place. This included a four-game losing sequence which saw back-to-back reverses at home to Bolton Wanderers and Manchester United.

The 3-0 home defeat to the Red Devils was the first of three quick-fire defeats to Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. They lost 3-1 at Old Trafford a month later and also saw their FA Cup hopes for the season extinguish with a last-gasp 2-1 loss at The Theatre of Dreams in the third round.

However, fresh investment was coming for the team in the January transfer window.

Carew and Young arrive

January 2007 was the first opportunity O’Neill had to invest in the squad since Lerner’s takeover of the club. First up was actually a player-exchange deal. Having preferred not to use Milan Baros as a central striker in his first six months at the club, O’Neill allowed Baros to leave for Lyon in a swap deal which saw John Carew arrive at Villa Park.

A day after Carew’s arrival, Aston Villa paid Watford an initial £8 million, potentially rising to £9.65 million in add-ons to sign young English winger Ashley Young. Young had impressed greatly for the Hornets in the first half of the season and had been courted by Villa for a few weeks before his arrival into the Second City.

Shaun Maloney also arrived for a cheaper fee of £1 million, becoming the fourth player who used to work with O’Neill at Celtic to follow him to England alongside Petrov, Sutton and defender Didier Agathe.

Both Carew and Young made goalscoring impacts early on in their careers at their new club. Young scored first but his effort came in a 3-1 defeat away at Newcastle United. Carew’s goal was the only one of the contest to steer Villa to a vital 1-0 home success over struggling West Ham United.

Finishing with a flourish

Going into April, there was still an outside danger that Aston Villa could be dragged into the relegation battle because they weren’t winning many matches. However, they were proving to be difficult to beat. Only Reading and Arsenal had defeated Villa since early February.

Any lingering doubts were ended by an excellent performance at Ewood Park to complete a league double over Blackburn Rovers. A 2-1 away victory saw Patrik Berger score a rare goal after a nightmare season which had seen him struggle with injury and even have a spell out on-loan at Championship club Stoke City.

The win at Blackburn began an excellent sequence to finish the season as Villa ended with a flourish. A nine-game unbeaten run saw them finish top of the bottom half in 11th position. Among the wins were two more away successes at Middlesbrough and Manchester City and a 3-0 home win against Sheffield United – arguably the best performance of the entire season from the team.

Aston Villa ended with 50 points and drew 17 of their 38 league matches – the most of any side in the 2006-2007 campaign. It had been a solid first season in the dugout for O’Neill and the foundations were in place for even better results to come in the coming seasons.

FINAL 2006-2007 TABLE – 8th to 13th

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
8 Reading 38 16 7 15 52 47 +5 55
9 Portsmouth 38 14 12 12 45 42 +3 54
10 Blackburn Rovers 38 15 7 16 52 54 -2 52
11 ASTON VILLA 38 11 17 10 43 41 +2 50
12 Middlesbrough 38 12 10 16 44 49 -5 46
13 Newcastle United 38 11 10 17 38 47 -9 43
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Iconic Moments: Stunning Scorpion goals (December 2016 & January 2017)

Within two weeks in the 2016-2017 Premier League season, fans were treated to a new form of goalscoring method by the form of the ‘Scorpion Kick.’

On Boxing Day 2016, Henrikh Mkhitaryan was the first to try this and the Armenian’s effort in Manchester United’s 3-1 victory over struggling Sunderland was a piece of beauty, as he flicked the ball in from Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s cross. Surely, it was something we wouldn’t see again for a long time to come.

Olivier Giroud had other ideas with a technically even better effort for Arsenal against Crystal Palace on New Years’ Day 2017. From a clinical Arsenal counter-attack, Giroud showed spectacular athleticism and from a higher ball played in than Mkhitaryan’s effort, he managed to somehow get enough on his effort to go into the back of the Palace net off the underside of the crossbar.

The Premier League never disappoints and although we haven’t seen any further acrobatic efforts like this since, these goals from Mkhitaryan and Giroud show it can be done with some luck and also, sheer quality.

Premier League Rewind: 28th-29th January 2014

Results: Crystal Palace 1-0 Hull City, Liverpool FC 4-0 Everton, Manchester United 2-0 Cardiff City, Norwich City 0-0 Newcastle United, Southampton 2-2 Arsenal, Swansea City 2-0 Fulham, Aston Villa 4-3 West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea 0-0 West Ham United, Sunderland 1-0 Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur 1-5 Manchester City

Arsenal went into this midweek round of matches in January 2014 leading the Premier League title race but both Manchester City and Chelsea were snapping at their heels. This looked like being a crucial round of fixtures at both ends of the table.

The Gunners faced a tricky test away on the south coast away at Southampton and ultimately saw their five-match winning streak come to an end. After falling behind to Jose Fonte’s 21st minute header, Arsenal turned the match around with quick-fire goals early in the second half from Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla. However, Adam Lallana’s 54th minute strike ensured the Saints got a deserved 2-2 draw against the Gunners, who also had Mathieu Flamini sent off 10 minutes from full-time.

That draw meant Manchester City could go into top spot in the table if they claimed all three points against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. Danny Rose’s red card did help City’s cause but Manuel Pellegrini’s side cruised to an impressive 5-1 destruction of the north Londoners with goals from Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic and Vincent Kompany. It meant they had scored 11 goals in two fixtures against the Lilywhites in the season and also inflicted a first defeat on new Tottenham Head Coach, Tim Sherwood. Manchester City had now won their last eight Premier League fixtures.

Chelsea lost ground on the top two after being held to a frustrating goalless draw by West Ham United at Stamford Bridge. The Blues had an incredible 39 shots on-goal compared to just one for the visitors but they couldn’t find a way through thanks to last-ditch defending and wasteful finishing. It was the most shots on-goal a side had in a Premier League game without scoring since 2003-2004. After the game, Jose Mourinho was very vocal about the Hammers’ gameplay, calling it: “This is football from the 19th Century. The only (other) thing I could bring was Black and Decker (tool) to destroy the wall.”

Liverpool FC moved four points clear of city neighbours Everton after destroying the Toffees 4-0 at Anfield in The Merseyside Derby. Daniel Sturridge scored twice and only a wayward penalty denied the England ace his second hat-trick for the club. Skipper Steven Gerrard had opened the scoring from a corner early on and Luis Suarez capped the victory off with his trademark strike. It was only Everton’s third Premier League defeat of the season and first away from Goodison Park since early October.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made an emotional return to Old Trafford as manager of Cardiff City but he couldn’t spearhead the Welsh club to a surprising victory. Juan Mata made his debut for the Red Devils after his transfer from Chelsea and he played a part in the first goal of the game, scored by Robin van Persie. Ashley Young scored his first Premier League goal in nearly two years to cap a 2-0 victory for the reigning champions, who remained in a distant seventh place in the table.

Elsewhere, Sunderland climbed out of the bottom three after beating Stoke City 1-0. It was their third victory in six matches. Fulham replaced them in the relegation zone after losing 2-0 to Swansea City. Dimitar Berbatov scored an own goal in his last game for the club before completing a loan move to AS Monaco. It was also the last victory Michael Laudrup would experience as Swansea manager. He would be sacked a week later.

What else happened in January 2014?

  • Legendary former Portuguese forward, Eusebio, who finished top goalscorer in the 1966 World Cup finals in England, dies of heart failure, aged 71.
  • An inquest jury decides that Mark Duggan was lawfully killed by police in 2011. It was his death that sparked the summer riots in England.
  • Lewis Clarke of Bristol sets a new world record after becoming the youngest person to trek to the South Pole. He is just 16-years-old.
  • Latvia becomes the 18th member of the Eurozone after adopting the Euro as its official currency.
  • BBC Radio 1’s official YouTube channel reaches the milestone of one million subscribers.
  • The Met Office release figures that indicate parts of the Midlands and Southern England have experienced their highest January rainfall since records began 104 years earlier.
  • Comedian Jim Davidson wins the 13th series of Celebrity Big Brother.

 

Premier League Rewind: 20th-22nd January 2018

Results: Brighton & Hove Albion 0-4 Chelsea, Arsenal 4-1 Crystal Palace, Burnley 0-1 Manchester United, Everton 1-1 West Bromwich Albion, Leicester City 2-0 Watford, Stoke City 2-0 Huddersfield Town, West Ham United 1-1 AFC Bournemouth, Manchester City 3-1 Newcastle United, Southampton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Swansea City 1-0 Liverpool FC

With Christmas well and truly over and the January transfer window in full swing, a question had been asked of runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City. A week earlier, the Citizens lost 4-3 to Liverpool FC, losing their first league match of the campaign. Could Pep Guardiola’s side return to winning ways?

They made no mistake against Newcastle United, beating the Magpies 3-1. Sergio Aguero was in peak form against Newcastle again, scoring his seventh hat-trick in the competition and his second against the Toon Army after his five-goal haul against them in October 2015. It was a perfect way to mark his 200th appearance in the competition.

Manchester City remained 12 points clear at the top of the table after Manchester United extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to eight matches. Anthony Martial’s strike after 54 minutes saw Jose Mourinho’s men record a narrow 1-0 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor. By contrast, Burnley’s bright start to the season had been checked. They were still eighth in the table but winless now in seven games and had lost their last three matches. The Red Devils were yet to concede a goal in 2018.

Liverpool FC should have been on a real high after the victory over Manchester City. However, Jurgen Klopp’s side inexplicably lost their next match, going down 1-0 at The Liberty Stadium to struggling Swansea City. Virgil van Dijk made his league debut for the Reds after his £75 million move from Southampton making him the most expensive defender in world football. However, he was partially responsible for the only goal of the game, scored by Swansea centre-back, Alfie Mawson. Swansea remained bottom but were now just three points adrift of safety.

Following a humiliating exit at the hands of Coventry City in the FA Cup earlier in the month, Stoke City had parted company with Mark Hughes after nearly five years in-charge. After missing out on their prime target, the Derby boss Gary Rowett, it was Paul Lambert who stepped in to fill the breach. He made the perfect start as the Potters beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 to lift themselves outside the drop zone. They were replaced in the bottom three by Southampton, who hadn’t won a game now in nearly two months. That was despite the Saints earning a decent point against Tottenham Hotspur. Harry Kane scored the equaliser for Tottenham. It was his 99th Premier League goal.

The match at Goodison Park between Everton and West Bromwich Albion was completely overshadowed by a horrific injury to Everton midfielder, James McCarthy. An unfortunate collision with West Brom forward Salomon Rondon saw him suffer a double leg fracture and leaving the field on a stretcher. Rondon was seen in tears after the incident which meant the final 1-1 scoreline was made completely irrelevant by these events.

Sam Allardyce was the man in-charge of Everton but their prime target to succeed Ronald Koeman had been Marco Silva. The Watford boss had been the subject of an approach by Everton in mid-November. The Hornets turned the approach down but their form completely nosedived after this. A 2-0 defeat away at Leicester City spelt the end for Silva. He was sacked by Watford less than 24 hours after the loss at The King Power Stadium.

What else happened in January 2018?

  • Cyrille Regis dies after suffering a heart attack, aged 59. He won five England caps and represented the likes of West Bromwich Albion, Coventry City and Aston Villa during a 19-year professional career.
  • The UK’s second-largest construction company, Carillion goes into liquidation with debts of £1.5 million. Over 19,000 jobs in the UK disappear with the collapse.
  • A huge fire at the Liverpool Echo Arena car park destroys 1,400 cars.
  • The United States government enters a federal government shutdown as a result of a dispute over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
  • A total lunar eclipse takes place. It is the first blue moon eclipse since 1983.
  • After touring for nearly 50 years, Sir Elton John announces his retirement.
  • Professional dancer Brendan Cole announces he is leaving Strictly Come Dancing after being with the series since its inception in 2004.

Premier League Rewind: 14th-16th January 2012

Results: Aston Villa 1-1 Everton, Blackburn Rovers 3-1 Fulham, Chelsea 1-0 Sunderland, Liverpool FC 0-0 Stoke City, Manchester United 3-0 Bolton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Norwich City, Newcastle United 1-0 Queens Park Rangers, Swansea City 3-2 Arsenal, Wigan Athletic 0-1 Manchester City

Three teams seemed to be in the fight for the title race in the 2011-2012 Premier League season. The two Manchester clubs were covered by just three points after 20 matches, whilst Tottenham Hotspur had been on an incredible run of form, losing just once since late August to sit just three points shy of top spot.

The first signs though that the pace was going to catch up on Harry Redknapp and Spurs were evident on this January weekend when they dropped points at home to struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers. Steven Fletcher put the visitors infront after 22 minutes and despite having 28 shots on-goal and 68% possession, the hosts could only muster one goal through Luka Modric early in the second half. It was a missed opportunity for Tottenham.

Manchester United went to the top of the table for 48 hours after a convincing 3-0 success over Bolton Wanderers. It was a wonderful return to the first-team for Paul Scholes. Scholes retired from professional football in May 2011 but decided to reverse his decision in time for the FA Cup third round weekend. On his Premier League return against the Trotters, Scholes opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time. Second half goals from Danny Welbeck and Michael Carrick sealed the victory.

However, Manchester City responded on Monday evening with a hard-fought 1-0 victory away to Wigan Athletic. Edin Dzeko’s 22nd minute goal was the difference as Roberto Mancini’s side regained their three-point advantage at the top of the table.

Chelsea consolidated their position in the top four after a narrow 1-0 win over Sunderland. With new signing Gary Cahill watching on in the stands, Frank Lampard’s goal beat the Black Cats, who lost for just the second time since Martin O’Neill had succeeded Steve Bruce as manager in early December. The Blues were now four points clear of Arsenal who went down 3-2 to Swansea City. The Swans were enjoying a fantastic season under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers. This win lifted them into 10th position with Danny Graham scoring the winner. It meant Arsenal had lost back-to-back league games to start the 2012 calendar year.

Mark Hughes was back in the managerial dugout having succeeded Neil Warnock at Queens Park Rangers. It would be a losing start though for the Welshman as QPR lost 1-0 to Newcastle United, who moved into the top six and level on points with Arsenal. Leon Best scored the only goal of the game for the Magpies who were the surprise package of the season. QPR had lost six of their last seven matches and were now in the relegation zone.

They replaced Blackburn Rovers who still had the momentum from the fantastic New Years’ Eve victory at Manchester United. Despite having top goalscorer Yakubu sent off after just 23 minutes, Blackburn still had enough to defeat Fulham 3-1. However, just three points covered the bottom five in the table, so it was too close to call at this stage in the fight to survive.

What else happened in January 2012?

  • There are 32 confirmed deaths when passenger cruise ship Costa Concordia sinks off the coast of Italy.
  • Two men are found guilty of the murder of London teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in April 1993. They are jailed for life.
  • Former CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Fred Goodwin loses his knighthood as a result of the near collapse of RBS four years earlier.
  • The Scottish Government announces that it plans to hold the referendum on Scottish independence in the autumn of 2014.
  • Legendary EastEnders character Pat Butcher, played by Pam St Clement, makes her final appearance in the BBC soap opera. Her character dies in a cancer storyline.
  • The FBI shutdown the Hong Kong-based file-sharing website, Megaupload.
  • Nick Hewer takes over as presenter of Channel 4 teatime show, Countdown.

Premier League Rewind: 16th-18th January 1999

Results: Chelsea 2-1 Coventry City, Derby County 1-0 Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United 2-0 Middlesbrough, Leicester City 2-6 Manchester United, Liverpool FC 7-1 Southampton, Nottingham Forest 0-1 Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Wimbledon, West Ham United 0-4 Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton Athletic 2-2 Newcastle United, Aston Villa 3-0 Everton

The final year of the 20th century provided plenty of entertaining action in the Premier League and an intense scrap for the championship title was shaping up very nicely in January 1999. The usual suspects, Manchester United and reigning champions Arsenal were being challenged for supremacy by early season pacesetters Aston Villa and Chelsea, who were finally beginning to launch a sustained title challenge for the first time in the Premier League era.

All four sides would ultimately win on the 16th-18th January weekend but with very differing results. The leaders going into the weekend were Chelsea and Gianluca Vialli’s side held onto that advantage after a narrow and fortunate 2-1 victory over Coventry City. The Sky Blues had defeated Chelsea on the opening weekend of the season and were looking at a surprising league double when Darren Huckerby put them infront after only nine minutes.

Franck Leboeuf equalised just before half-time before the match turned into a heated battle which even saw a confrontation involving both sets of coaching staff. Jeff Winter sent Gordon Strachan to the stands although he claimed to have no part in the scuffle. Without their manager, Coventry lost their hard-earned point in stoppage-time. Roberto Di Matteo scored the winner to keep Chelsea top and extended their unbeaten run to 21 Premier League matches.

Aston Villa sat just below Chelsea on goal difference. They cruised to a 3-0 victory over Everton on the Monday Night Football. Villa were helped by an early red card for Everton defender Alex Cleland. He saw red from referee Neale Barry after just 11 minutes and from then on, John Gregory’s side didn’t look back. There were two goals for Julian Joachim and one from Paul Merson. However, this would be their last domestic victory until early April as their challenge faded dramatically.

Like Chelsea, Arsenal had to work incredibly hard to earn three points. Martin Keown’s header was enough to defeat a plucky Nottingham Forest 1-0 at The City Ground. Forest had a new manager as Ron Atkinson was appointed to try and save their precarious position. Atkinson made headlines almost instantly by sitting in the wrong dugout before kick-off! It pretty much summed up Forest’s season; calamitous!

Still, at least they weren’t thrashed on this weekend. That happened to both Leicester City and Southampton. Leicester were well-beaten, 6-2 at home by a goal-hungry Manchester United. Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole were in imperious form. Yorke scored a hat-trick and Cole helped himself to two goals. There was also time for a first Red Devils goal for centre-back Jaap Stam. Leicester did score the goal of the game from Theo Zagorakis. However, they simply couldn’t handle United’s red-hot attack. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were handily placed in third, just two points shy of league leaders Chelsea.

It was worse still for Southampton who caved in 7-1 at Anfield to Liverpool FC. Robbie Fowler scored a hat-trick. In the process, he made it to a century of Premier League goals. Jamie Carragher and Dominic Matteo also scored rare goals as Southampton’s defenders simply wilted on Merseyside. The win took Liverpool up to sixth spot with four wins now from their last five games.

Southampton and Forest were joined in the relegation zone by Charlton Athletic. They did though manage to end their eight-game losing streak by earning a 2-2 home draw with Newcastle United. Martin Pringle scored his first goal for the club in the 90th minute.

What else happened in January 1999?

  • In an interview with The Times newspaper, England manager Glenn Hoddle suggests people born with disabilities are paying for sins in a previous life. His comments prove to be very damaging for his job prospects.
  • After fourteen years of playing NBA basketball, superstar Michael Jordan announces his second retirement.
  • The Denver Broncos win their second consecutive Super Bowl, defeating the Atlanta Falcons, 34-19, in Super Bowl XXXIII.
  • Fernando Henrique Cardoso takes office as President of Brazil for the second time.
  • Britney Spears releases her debut album.
  • Unemployment in the UK falls to just over 1.3 million. This is the lowest total in 20 years.
  • Channel 5 airs an episode of their soap opera Family Affairs, which sees one of the original families – the Hart clan killed in a dramatic boat explosion in a desperate bid to improve falling ratings.

Iconic Moments: Keegan resigns (January 1997)

He was seen as the man who could do no wrong for Newcastle United. Kevin Keegan was the fans’ favourite on Tyneside. He has sent them home with plenty of joy as a player and produced many memorable moments during his five years as manager.

It was an absolute bombshell for the players and supporters when on 9th January 1997, Keegan decided to resign as manager. That was despite Newcastle being still in the race for the Premier League title and possessing hopes of success in the FA Cup and UEFA Cup.

Form had tailed off towards the end of 1996. Newcastle did go on a seven-game winless sequence but were still fourth in the Premier League and within striking distance of league leaders Liverpool FC. Less than 10 days earlier, they’d battered Tottenham Hotspur 7-1 at St James’ Park. Keegan’s last match in charge had been a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup third round at First Division Charlton Athletic from which he walked out of a press conference after the match. This announcement still came as a shock to all though.

A prepared statement was read out from the club’s Durham training complex, which read: “Newcastle United Football Club today (9th January 1997) announced the resignation of manager Kevin Keegan. Kevin informed the board of his wish to resign at the end of the season, having decided he no longer wishes to continue in football management at this stage in his life. Following lengthy discussions of which the board attempted to persuade Kevin to change his mind, both parties eventually agreed that the best route forward was for the club to, reluctantly; accept his resignation with immediate effect.

Keegan would return to the hotseat later on in his career, first with Fulham a year later before spells managing the England national team, Manchester City and another brief spell at Newcastle in 2008.

His teams were exciting, enthralling and energising to watch. They were “The Entertainers.”

Premier League Rewind: 29th-30th January 2008

Results: Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers 0-0 Fulham, Middlesbrough 1-0 Wigan Athletic, Sunderland 2-0 Birmingham City, Chelsea 1-0 Reading, Derby County 1-1 Manchester City, West Ham United 1-0 Liverpool FC, Everton 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United 2-0 Portsmouth

This midweek round of Premier League fixtures during the 2007-2008 season saw a paltry return of just 12 goals in nine matches. Defences most definitely came out on top but that doesn’t mean to say it didn’t provide some exciting moments.

At this stage of the season, it was Arsenal who were top of the table and favourites to regain the Premier League for the first time since 2004. The Gunners’ hosted a Newcastle United side that had just undergone a change in management. Kevin Keegan was back in the dugout, 11 years after abruptly walking out on the club in his first stint. His Newcastle team were nowhere near as good as the one he left behind and they were easily beaten 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium with Emmanuel Adebayor, Mathieu Flamini and Cesc Fabregas all finding the target.

Defending champions Manchester United kept the pressure up on Arsene Wenger’s side the following evening with some more individual brilliance from Cristiano Ronaldo. His two goals in the opening 13 minutes sunk Portsmouth 2-0 at Old Trafford, including a free-kick which is among the best the league has ever seen.

Chelsea kept their title hopes flickering with a narrow 1-0 victory at home to Reading, who after their near-miss with European football the previous season, looked destined for a relegation scrap this time around. Michael Ballack’s goal in the 32nd minute proved to be the difference between the two sides.

The race for the top four was hotting up and Liverpool FC had work to do. Rafa Benitez’s side had a wretched January, failing to win a single match and collecting just three points from four games. That run continued with a late 1-0 defeat at Upton Park to mid-table West Ham United. Mark Noble’s stoppage-time penalty consigned Liverpool FC to only a third league defeat of the season.

Luckily for Liverpool, their rivals for the top four spots didn’t take full advantage. Everton were held to a goalless draw by Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park, whilst Manchester City required an equaliser from Daniel Sturridge to rescue a 1-1 draw away at bottom-placed Derby County. The point was a rare high point in Derby’s wretched campaign which saw him muster just one victory all season in the Premier League.

Elsewhere, Sunderland improved their chances of beating the drop as they defeated Birmingham City 2-0 at the Stadium of Light and Middlesbrough’s 1-0 victory over Wigan Athletic moved them into the reaches of mid-table and kept Wigan firmly in danger. Bolton Wanderers and Fulham played out an uneventful 0-0 draw at the Reebok Stadium.

What else happened in January 2008?

  • Due to the Writers Guild of America strike, the Golden Globes awards ceremony is cancelled. A one-hour news conference is held by NBC to reveal the winners.
  • The US election race hots up with Joe Biden, John Edwards and Rudy Giuliani all dropping out of contention.
  • Aged 59, Jeremy Beadle, famous for “Beadle’s About” and “You’ve Been Framed” dies after contracting a bout of pneumonia.
  • ITV’s flagship news programme, News at Ten returns with Sir Trevor McDonald and Julie Etchingham hosting the revived bulletin.
  • Tower Colliery, the UK’s oldest continuously working deep-coal mine closes for the last time.
  • Labour’s Peter Hain resigned as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions over irregular donations.
  • Cyprus and Malta are the latest countries to adopt the Euro as their national currency.

Iconic Moments: The craziest deadline day (January 2011)

Transfer deadline day has become a nationwide event for football fans since the introduction of the August and January transfer windows from the 2002-2003 season onwards. There have been some intriguing days like Arsenal’s signing of Mesut Ozil in August 2013 and Dimitar Berbatov’s last-gasp switch to Manchester United five seasons earlier.

But there were fewer mad days in the transfer market than the one that played out on Monday, 31 January 2011. Over £100 million was spent on three strikers, with Liverpool FC, Chelsea and Newcastle United playing the leading roles.

There was a big departure from Anfield. Star striker of the past three and a half years, Fernando Torres decided to leave the club. Days earlier, the Spaniard had handed in a transfer request which was initially rejected. Eventually, a deal was agreed that saw Torres move to Chelsea for a British transfer record fee at the time of £50 million. A lot of LFC fans were very upset by Torres’ comments in the aftermath of the deal going through. Shirts were burned outside the ground as their former idol had moved on, saying “This is the target for every footballer – to try to play for one of the top clubs in the world.” 

Although he did go on to win the silverware he craved such as the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League in 2012, Torres never fully settled at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool fans never really forgave him until an appearance at Steven Gerrard’s testimonial three seasons later. He is now back in Spain playing for his boyhood club, Atletico Madrid.

That wasn’t the only business conducted at Chelsea. Brazilian defender David Luiz arrived from Benfica for £26.5 million and not the end of the drama either at Liverpool. As El Nino checked out of Merseyside, the Reds were busy pulling off their own double striker swoop.

£22.8 million was paid to Ajax for the controversial but exceptionally talented Luis Suarez and £35 million was exchanged with Newcastle for Andy Carroll – a club record fee. Like Torres, the transfer fee seemed to weigh too much on Carroll. His 18-month spell was an unhappy one and he eventually moved onto West Ham United in August 2012. On the other hand, Suarez lit up Anfield with many spectacular performances. Despite racism and biting controversies which led to suspensions totalling 19 matches, his spectacular goals nearly guided the club to a Premier League title in 2014 before departing for Barcelona in a £75 million transfer.

Other moves saw Birmingham sign Obafemi Martins on-loan, Bolton add Daniel Sturridge to their ranks from Chelsea, Tuncay depart Stoke City for the Bundesliga with VfL Wolfsburg and Blackpool add four players to their relegation scrap. Charlie Adam stayed put despite a late bid from Tottenham Hotspur.

In total, Premier League clubs spent over £200 million in the 2011 January window and deadline day in this window remains the craziest and probably best window of this era of transactions in football.

Premier League Rewind: 17th-20th January 1998

Results: Barnsley 1-0 Crystal Palace, Blackburn Rovers 5-0 Aston Villa, Coventry City 2-2 Arsenal, Leeds United 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday, Leicester City 0-0 Liverpool FC, Newcastle United 2-1 Bolton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 West Ham United, Wimbledon 0-0 Derby County, Everton 3-1 Chelsea, Southampton 1-0 Manchester United, Liverpool FC 1-0 Newcastle United

On the weekend of 17th-20th January 1998, no-one seemed likely to catch Manchester United. A fifth Premier League title in six seasons looked more likely for the Red Devils’ with every passing week. However, every top team has a bogey ground over the years and theirs was most definitely the Dell.

Having been beaten in April 1996 by the ‘grey shirt’ debacle and then humiliated 6-3 just six months later, Sir Alex Ferguson must have feared the Monday Night visit to the south coast. He was right too. Kevin Davies headed the hosts’ infront inside three minutes before an extraordinary display from Paul Jones, who made save after save to inflict back-to-back away defeats on the champions. It was the third successive season Manchester United would leave Southampton’s ground empty-handed.

Chelsea had been among the main pursuers but their away form was a real cause of concern. This was highlighted in a Super Sunday trip to Goodison Park to take on a struggling Everton side. Although Tore Andre Flo gave Chelsea the lead, that advantage was cancelled out just two minutes later by skipper Gary Speed. Duncan Ferguson and a Michael Duberry own goal completed a positive afternoon for Howard Kendall’s side. It would turn out to be Speed’s final match in Everton colours. He was sold to Newcastle United weeks later.

The Magpies’ were welcoming back their own star asset. Alan Shearer had sustained a serious knee injury in a pre-season tournament at Goodison Park in late July. He came back as a second-half substitute in the home fixture with Bolton Wanderers. Typically, Shearer had a role to play in the winning goal which was scored by Temuri Ketsbaia. The Georgian then lost control of his emotions, ripping his shirt off, before repeating kicking an advertising hoarding. It was a strange reaction but the 2-1 win was a vital result for Newcastle.

After a searing start of their own, Blackburn Rovers’ momentum had been checked in recent weeks and they managed just one win in January 1998. However, it was a great performance to trounce Aston Villa 5-0 at Ewood Park. It meant they defeated Villa by an aggregate score of 9-0 over the two matches they played against each other.

There was a bad-tempered match between Coventry City and Arsenal at Highfield Road. The Sky Blues’ were in excellent form and Gordon Strachan was about to win a Manager of the Month award for his achievements. They had beaten Manchester United a month earlier and held Arsenal up in a 2-2 draw. Both Patrick Vieira and Paul Williams saw red. Dion Dublin’s penalty ensured a share of the spoils against a tired Arsenal side that had gone to penalties earlier that week to overcome plucky Port Vale in the FA Cup.

North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur were also involved in a tempestuous game that weekend. Jurgen Klinsmann’s first goal since returning to the club was overshadowed by a red card for West Ham’s Samassi Abou. Abou proceeded to manhandle referee David Elleray and he had to be helped from the field by manager Harry Redknapp. Tottenham’s Colin Calderwood decided to get involved in the confrontation which saw the pair nearly come to blows. For the record, Tottenham won 1-0.

There was one match extra on this weekend and a third clash in little over a month between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United. Michael Owen scored the only goal in Liverpool’s 1-0 victory to complete a hat-trick of wins for the Reds’ over Dalglish’s Toon Army. This game had initially been scheduled for 31 August 1997 but was postponed as a mark of respect following the death of Princess Diana in a car accident in Paris.

What else happened in January 1998?

  • US president Bill Clinton’s integrity is called into question as reports emerge of his alleged affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Later in the month in a live statement to the American nation, Clinton makes the famous vow: “I want to say one thing to the American people; I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”
  • A life imprisonment is handed down to Ramzi Yousef for his role in the first bombing of the World Trade Centre in 1993.
  • Manchester United footballer David Beckham and Spice Girl Victoria Adams (Posh Spice) announce their engagement.
  • France’s new national sports stadium, the Stade de France in Paris is officially opened ahead of that summer’s World Cup.
  • Titanic, Dame Judi Dench and Peter Fonda are among the winners at the 55th Golden Globes.
  • The Denver Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers 31-24 to win Super Bowl XXXII.
  • Hayley Patterson, British soap’s first transgender character, is first seen in Coronation Street.