Tag Archives: Leicester City

Memorable Matches: Leicester City 5-2 Sunderland (March 2000)

Goalscorers: Stan Collymore 17, 60, 87, Emile Heskey 34, Kevin Phillips 53, Niall Quinn 75, Stefan Oakes 90

Teams:

Leicester City: Tim Flowers, Matt Elliott, Gerry Taggart, Frank Sinclair, Darren Eadie (Stefan Oakes 56), Steve Guppy, Neil Lennon, Robbie Savage, Muzzy Izzet, Stan Collymore, Emile Heskey

Sunderland: Thomas Sorensen, Paul Butler, Jody Craddock, Chris Makin, Eric Roy (John Oster 71), Alex Rae, Stefan Schwarz, Darren Holloway (Nicky Summerbee 45), Kevin Kilbane, Niall Quinn, Kevin Phillips

Referee: Neale Barry, Attendance: 20,432

Having joined Leicester City a month earlier after falling out of favour at Aston Villa, Stan Collymore was keen to show his doubters wrong. He had his chance infront of the Sky Sports cameras on his home debut at Filbert Street as the Foxes’ hosted Sunderland in an end-to-end contest that saw seven goals and a reminder of his class when he was at his absolute best.

Collymore had already been in trouble with new manager Martin O’Neill for an off-field incident in a hotel during a club training camp break in La Manga. This was his second match for the club and after 16 minutes, he produced a spectacular opening goal. His half-volley from a flick-on by his new strike partner Emile Heskey left Thomas Sorensen completely helpless.

It was always going to be an entertaining contest. Sunderland had impressed many on their return to the top-flight but had the poorest defensive record in the top 10 coming into the match and it was exposed again 10 minutes before half-time. Neil Lennon won possession in the heart of midfield and he played Heskey in. He took one touch and finished in-between Sorensen’s legs.

Peter Reid was not happy with his team’s performance and withdrew Darren Holloway at half-time, replacing him with Nicky Summerbee. They did come close to reducing the deficit when Leicester defender Matt Elliott’s clearance at the near post hit his own crossbar. It was a warning sign to the Foxes but it wasn’t adhered to. Kevin Phillips’ half-volley from the edge of the penalty area on 53 minutes reduced the arrears. It was the 100th goal of his league career and 24th of an amazing individual season that saw him clinch the Golden Boot at the end of the campaign.

Leicester restored their two-goal lead on the hour mark. Lennon chalked up his second assist of the match. His beautiful cross was met by Collymore who directed the ball into the top corner of Sorensen’s net. One thing Reid had installed in Sunderland’s armoury was the ability to respond clinically and he had one of the best strike partnerships in the country at the time in Phillips and Niall Quinn. The Republic of Ireland forward joined Philips on the scoresheet with 15 minutes left. His curling strike would set-up a grandstand finish.

The day though would belong to Collymore. He completed his hat-trick with a striker’s tap-in. The finish was slightly scuffed but he wouldn’t be complaining about that and nor were the Leicester supporters. With time running out, substitute Stefan Oakes added a fifth to ensure the Black Cats’ conceded five on their travels for the second time this season, having shipped five at Everton on Boxing Day.

The sides would finish seventh and eighth at the end of the season. This day though belonged to Leicester and to the maverick that was Stan Collymore.

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The Managers: Claudio Ranieri

Premier League Clubs Managed: Chelsea (2000-2004), Leicester City (2015-2017)

On Friday 14th November 2014, Claudio Ranieri’s management career looked all but over. After 28 years in football management, he had just experienced his most embarrassing evening in the game. The tiny Faroe Islands had just beaten his Greece side 1-0 through a Joan Edmundsson strike. At the time, the Faroes were ranked 187 in the world. With one point from four games, Greece’s hopes of qualifying for the 2016 European Championships were all but over. A day later, Ranieri was fired.

Eight months after the Greek nightmare, he was appointed Leicester City manager to the surprise of many, who even mocked the appointment. On Tuesday 3rd May 2016, Ranieri had completed the impossible dream, taking 5000-1 outsiders Leicester to the Premier League title in the greatest story ever told in English football.

The Leicester adventure was cruelly ended less than a year later but Ranieri has won many friends for life thanks to his achievements at the King Power Stadium.

Experience counts

Claudio Ranieri began his managerial career in his homeland during the late 1980s, making his name at Cagliari whom he achieved back-to-back promotions with on a shoestring budget.

Outside of English football, he has managed many of the top clubs in the European game, though his success in terms of honours was limited mainly to cup triumphs. He won the Coppa Italia with Fiorentina in 1996 and the Copa del Rey in 1998 as manager of Valencia. The only titles he achieved were in the second-tier with Fiorentina in 1994 and AS Monaco 19 years later.

Actually, his best win rate ratio came at AS Roma, winning 55.5% of matches during his reign there from September 2009 to February 2011. However, silverware eluded him at the Stadio Olimpico at a time where Inter Milan was the dominant club in Serie A and in the UEFA Champions League under the guidance of a certain Jose Mourinho.

Ranieri has also managed Atletico Madrid, Parma, Juventus and Inter Milan in his career.

‘The Tinkerman’

He was appointed manager of Chelsea in September 2000, succeeding Gianluca Vialli. His first match in charge saw the out-of-form Blues’ recover from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 at Old Trafford with reigning champions Manchester United. He arrived with only limited English language capabilities so communication in the early months between him and the players wasn’t the most free-flowing.

In the summer of 2001, he started to reshape the squad, bringing in the likes of Frank Lampard, Emmanuel Petit and Bolo Zenden, spending over £30 million on new talent for the men from Stamford Bridge. There were some eye-catching results, including a 3-0 away win at Manchester United and 4-0 humbling of Liverpool FC at home but also, shock defeats at home to Southampton and away at Charlton Athletic. Chelsea also lost 5-1 at White Hart Lane in a League Cup semi-final to Tottenham Hotspur. A second successive sixth place finish wasn’t what the club were hoping for. He did take Chelsea to the FA Cup final but even that ended in disappointment, losing 2-0 to Arsenal at the Millennium Stadium.

During his reign in west London, Ranieri was given the nickname ‘The Tinkerman.’ His team selections were at times baffling and inconsistent. Frank Lampard seemed to be the only definite selection on a weekly basis. He had to make the most of his options in 2002-2003. Only one signing was made all season and that was Enrique de Lucas on a free transfer from Espanyol. The club were in financial peril, yet Ranieri achieved UEFA Champions League qualification on the final day of the season. A 2-1 victory over Liverpool FC was enough to earn Chelsea a fourth place finish. It set the Blues up for the financial bounty they were about to receive that summer.

On borrowed time

In July 2003, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea Football Club and things were changing. Chelsea went on a summer spending spree not seen before in the history of football, shocking pundits, journalists and supporters alike.

Ranieri now had a wealth of options at his disposal. He also was on borrowed time. There was constant speculation that his job was now up for grabs and being touted to the likes of England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson. He had to do well in 2003-2004 or face the consequences.

He guided Chelsea to a runners-up position with a Premier League highest points tally for the club and the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. However, that wasn’t deemed good enough by Abramovich and he made a tearful goodbye on the final day of the season to the Stamford Bridge faithful, who really had taken Claudio to their hearts. He was sacked two weeks later and replaced by the FC Porto boss Mourinho.

The impossible dream

Ranieri was quick to accept his mistake in taking the Greece post following the 2014 World Cup. Shortly after being confirmed as Nigel Pearson’s successor at the King Power Stadium, he gave an interview to the Leicester Mercury where he admitted he’d made a bad move.

“I made a mistake when I was manager of Greece. I wanted to look because it is a different job at a club to a national team. I had four matches and for each game I trained the players for just three days. That is 12 days of training. What can I do in just 12 days? I had to rebuild a national team in just 12 days. What could I do? I am not a magician.”

His aim was simple; for Leicester City to claim one more point than they’d managed the previous season. New arrivals included Gokhan Inler, Christian Fuchs and most importantly, N’Golo Kante. Leicester started the season with three wins and three draws in their opening six matches which included a thrilling comeback win over Aston Villa.

The fear was Ranieri would repeat his ‘Tinkerman’ approach from the Chelsea days at Leicester too, but in fact, their team selection was so consistent with the fewest starting XI changes in the league in 2015-2016. His decision to change the full-backs early season worked. Ritchie de Laet and Jeff Schlupp began the campaign but the 5-2 defeat at the hands of Arsenal at the end of September exposed a brutal weakness. From October, into the team came Danny Simpson and Fuchs. Simpson had been discarded by Queens Park Rangers and Fuchs shown the door by FC Schalke 04. Their consistent performances made them two of the club’s unsung heroes.

Even when Ranieri was forced into changes, he came up smiling. When Jamie Vardy was banned following his dismissal against West Ham United in April 2016, Ranieri changed tactic by bringing Schlupp into the team to counteract the pace he would lose from Vardy against Swansea City. Leicester won the game 4-0 and Schlupp was one of the star players on the day.

Even Claudio’s substitutions often worked. Leonardo Ulloa, Andy King, Nathan Dyer and Demarai Gray were often used from the bench. None of them complained. They did the job asked of them and were a full part of this team spirit ethic. Ulloa scored most of his goals from the bench, whilst Dyer’s home debut goal against Aston Villa wasn’t overlooked.

Leicester topped the table on Christmas Day and continued to defy the critics who were expecting the bubble to burst. In February, they went to title favourites Manchester City and blew them away, winning 3-1 and becoming the new team to beat with the bookmakers. This was the day people started to believe that it was their destiny to win the championship.

They entered April on top of the table and secured UEFA Champions League qualification with an away win at Sunderland. Tottenham Hotspur did put the pressure on but their 2-2 draw away at outgoing champions Chelsea handed the title to Leicester City. It was the first time in their 132-year history that they’d won the top-flight title in what has to be considered as one of football’s most incredible stories in our lifetime. Ranieri proved that nice guys do win and that is a rare commodity.

A sorry sequel

The summer of 2016 was always going to be crucial for Leicester. They managed to hold onto the services of Vardy and Riyad Mahrez but Kante did leave for Chelsea. The challenge was great and whilst it was going to be almost impossible to repeat the title triumph, no-one could have forecasted the disastrous sequel after the fairytale moment.

By the end of November, Leicester had lost six times already, picked up just one point away from the King Power Stadium and were only sitting two points above the drop zone. It seemed like the players had stopped playing for the manager, especially after pitiful displays away at Southampton and Swansea City in the first two months of 2017.

Just 24 hours after a narrow 2-1 defeat to Sevilla in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 tie, Ranieri was sacked by Leicester’s owners. The decision was brutal, seen as a savage call by the majority of people within the game. The players were accused of getting the manager sacked. A lot of love the club had gained in the title-winning season seemed to have been lost. Ironically, Leicester won their next five Premier League matches in a row and reached the Champions League quarter-finals after the Italian’s departure.

Ranieri is now in charge of French club Nantes and has guided them into a top six position at the halfway point of the current campaign in Ligue 1.

Claudio Ranieri won many hearts for his achievements first at Chelsea and then for the miracle at Leicester. He was hailed as ‘King Claudio’ after guiding the 5000-1 outsiders to the title in 2015-2016 and the Premier League success he enjoyed couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke.

Iconic Moments: Here’s a Man in his Pants! (August 2016)

Although he played for the likes of Barcelona, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur in his career, Leicester City will always be Gary Lineker’s club. In 2015-2016, he went through a rollercoaster of emotions as his side, the 5000-1 outsiders shocked world football to its core.

Lineker was very surprised when the Leicester board appointed Claudio Ranieri as their new manager in July 2015 despite the excellent work Nigel Pearson had produced in keeping the Foxes’ in the Premier League the previous campaign. Week after week, Leicester continued to defy the odds with their counter-attacking football and high-tempo that was making many sides look ordinary.

After they won at Everton to ensure top spot on Christmas Day 2015, Lineker famously posted on Twitter that if Leicester went onto win the Premier League title, he would present the first edition of next season’s Match of the Day in just his underpants! Five months later, when Tottenham failed to win at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea, the unthinkable came true. Leicester City were champions of England!

So the main question on everyone’s lips as the 2016-2017 season started was would Gary stick to his promise? Sure enough, he appeared on-screen in just his underpants or a massive pair of boxer shorts/normal shorts. Either way, it gave studio panellists Alan Shearer and Ian Wright something to laugh about.

As the BBC continuity announcer said into the MOTD link: “Now on BBC One on this hot summer’s evening, here’s a man in his pants!”

Shock Results: Leicester City 0-5 Bolton Wanderers (August 2001)

Goalscorers: Kevin Nolan 15, 41, Michael Ricketts 33, Per Frandsen 45, 83

Teams:

Leicester City: Tim Flowers, Callum Davidson (Lee Marshall 46), Matt Elliott, Gary Rowett, Frank Sinclair, Robbie Savage, Dennis Wise, Muzzy Izzet, Andy Impey, Ade Akinbiyi (Arnar Gunnlaugsson 46), Dean Sturridge (Junior Lewis 46)

Bolton Wanderers: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Anthony Barness, Gudni Bergsson (Ian Marshall 76), Simon Charlton, Mike Whitlow, Ricardo Gardner (Henrik Pedersen 66), Paul Warhurst (Nicky Southall 71), Per Frandsen, Kevin Nolan, Bo Hansen, Michael Ricketts

Referee: Rob Styles, Attendance: 19,987

Bolton Wanderers were the favourites with many of the bookmakers to be relegated at the start of the 2001-2002 season. Sam Allardyce’s side had been promoted to the Premier League via the play-offs and unlike fellow promotion teams, Fulham and Blackburn Rovers, had barely spent a penny in the summer transfer window.

First up for Bolton was a trip to Leicester City. Leicester had finished the previous campaign in very poor form, slipping from sixth to 13th in the final two months of the season. Yet, no-one could have predicted the start Bolton would make. By half-time, they were an incredible 4-0 up. They went ahead after 15 minutes. Per Frandsen did well to escape the attentions of Muzzy Izzet, before outsprinting Robbie Savage to the by-line. He got his cross into the box and Kevin Nolan produced a looping header that managed to elude Tim Flowers in the Foxes’ goal. It was the start of a remarkable first half for Bolton as they enjoyed their first Premier League game since May 1998.

Although Leicester went close through a Matt Elliott header, it was the away side that were dominating the play and they doubled their lead 12 minutes before half-time. Ricardo Gardner picked out Michael Ricketts, who showed far too much strength for Leicester defender Gary Rowett. As Rowett fell to the floor and turned to the referee in the vain appeals of winning a free-kick, Ricketts continued and scored to send the 2,000 away supporters into sheer ecstasy. Their joy was soon to increase.

Four minutes before half-time and Nolan added his second goal of the afternoon. Frandsen chipped a free-kick into the box. Long-serving defender Gudni Bergsson flicked the ball on and there was Nolan, who had all the time in the world to drill home past shell-shocked goalkeeper Flowers. By now, Leicester supporters were already calling for manager Peter Taylor’s head and Bolton’s demolition job was not complete yet.

In the final minute of stoppage-time at the end of the first half, Frandsen turned from goal provider to goalscorer. His free-kick flew into the bottom corner of Flowers’ net to complete an almost perfect first 45 minutes for the visitors.

Taylor reacted by making three half-time changes but all that did was stem the flow of the match slightly. Bolton were more than happy with the lead they’d already built up. However, there was still time with seven minutes left to add a fifth goal. Frandsen produced another brilliant free-kick which was arguably better than his first effort. The 5-0 scoreline set the course for both teams’ seasons.

Leicester sacked Taylor a month later and were relegated in April 2002. Bolton survived for the first time in their Premier League history, ending the season in a creditable 16th position.

Seasonal Records: 2001-2002

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 2001-2002 Premier League campaign, as Arsenal scored in every single game to end Manchester United’s three-year stranglehold on the prize.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Arsenal 38 26 9 3 79 36 +43 87
2 Liverpool FC 38 24 8 6 67 30 +37 80
3 Manchester United 38 24 5 9 87 45 +42 77
4 Newcastle United 38 21 8 9 74 52 +22 71
5 Leeds United 38 18 12 8 53 37 +16 66
6 Chelsea 38 17 13 8 66 38 +28 64
7 West Ham United 38 15 8 15 48 57 -9 53
8 Aston Villa 38 12 14 12 46 47 -1 50
9 Tottenham Hotspur 38 14 8 16 49 53 -4 50
10 Blackburn Rovers 38 12 10 16 55 51 +4 46
11 Middlesbrough 38 12 9 17 46 54 -8 45
12 Southampton 38 10 9 17 35 47 -12 45
13 Fulham 38 10 14 14 36 44 -8 44
14 Charlton Athletic 38 10 14 14 38 49 -11 44
15 Everton 38 11 10 17 45 57 -12 43
16 Bolton Wanderers 38 9 13 16 44 62 -18 40
17 Sunderland 38 10 10 18 29 51 -22 40
18 Ipswich Town 38 9 9 20 41 64 -23 36
19 Derby County 38 8 6 24 33 63 -30 30
20 Leicester City 38 5 13 20 30 64 -34 28

 

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 1001
European qualifiers Manchester United (UEFA Champions League), Arsenal (UEFA Champions League), Liverpool FC (UEFA Champions League), Newcastle United (UEFA Champions League), Leeds United (UEFA Cup), Chelsea (UEFA Cup), Blackburn Rovers (UEFA Cup), Ipswich Town (UEFA Cup), Aston Villa (UEFA Intertoto Cup), Fulham (UEFA Intertoto Cup)
Longest winning run 13 games (Arsenal)
Longest unbeaten run 21 games (Arsenal)
Longest winless run 16 games (Leicester City)
Longest losing run 7 games (Derby County)
Highest attendance 67,638 (Manchester United vs. Middlesbrough)
Lowest attendance 15,415 (Leicester City vs. Middlesbrough)

 

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United)
PFA Young Player of the Year Craig Bellamy (Newcastle United)
Football Writers’ Award Robert Pires (Arsenal)
PFA Team of the Year Shay Given, Wayne Bridge, Steve Finnan, Rio Ferdinand, Sami Hyypia, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, Ryan Giggs, Robert Pires, Thierry Henry, Ruud van Nistelrooy
Manager of the Year Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)
Premier League Goal of the Season Dennis Bergkamp (Newcastle United vs. ARSENAL)

 

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Robbie Fowler Leicester City vs. Liverpool FC 1-4 20th October 2001
Paul Kitson Charlton Athletic vs. West Ham United 4-4 19th November 2001
Ruud van Nistelrooy Manchester United vs. Southampton 6-1 22nd December 2001
Robbie Fowler Bolton Wanderers vs. Leeds United 0-3 26th December 2001
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Bolton Wanderers vs. Manchester United 0-4 29th January 2002
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 13th March 2002
Fredi Bobic Bolton Wanderers vs. Ipswich Town 4-1 6th April 2002

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Thierry Henry Arsenal 24
2= Ruud van Nistelrooy Manchester United 23
2= Alan Shearer Newcastle United 23
2= Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Chelsea 23
5 Michael Owen Liverpool FC 19
6 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 17
7 Robbie Fowler Liverpool FC & Leeds United 15
8= Eidur Gudjohnsen Chelsea 14
8= Marian Pahars Southampton 14
10= Andy Cole Manchester United & Blackburn Rovers 13
10= Michael Ricketts Bolton Wanderers 13
12= Freddie Ljungberg Arsenal 12
12= Darius Vassell Aston Villa 12
12= James Beattie Southampton 12
12= Juan Pablo Angel Aston Villa 12
16= David Beckham Manchester United 11
16= Mark Viduka Leeds United 11
16= Freddie Kanoute West Ham United 11
16= Jason Euell Charlton Athletic 11
16= Kevin Phillips Sunderland 11
21= Gus Poyet Tottenham Hotspur 10
21= Jermain Defoe West Ham United 10
21= Teddy Sheringham Tottenham Hotspur 10
21= Matt Jansen Blackburn Rovers 10
25 Robert Pires Arsenal 9

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Blackburn Rovers 7-1 West Ham United 14th October 2001
Ipswich Town 0-6 Liverpool FC 9th February 2002
Manchester United 6-1 Southampton 22nd December 2001
Liverpool FC 5-0 Ipswich Town 11th May 2002
Manchester United 5-0 Derby County 12th December 2001
Everton 5-0 West Ham United 29th September 2001
Leicester City 0-5 Bolton Wanderers 18th August 2001
Ipswich Town 5-0 Sunderland 29th December 2001
Newcastle United 6-2 Everton 29th March 2002
Chelsea 5-1 Bolton Wanderers 23rd December 2001

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
8 Blackburn Rovers 7-1 West Ham United 14th October 2001
8 Newcastle United 6-2 Everton 29th March 2002
8 Tottenham Hotspur 3-5 Manchester United 29th September 2001
8 West Ham United 3-5 Manchester United 16th March 2002
8 Charlton Athletic 4-4 West Ham United 19th November 2001
7 Manchester United 6-1 Southampton 22nd December 2001
7 Arsenal 4-3 Everton 11th May 2002
7 Liverpool FC 4-3 Blackburn Rovers 8th May 2002
7 Leeds United 3-4 Manchester United 30th March 2002
7 Newcastle United 4-3 Manchester United 15th September 2001
7 Leeds United 3-4 Newcastle United 22nd December 2001
7 Derby County 3-4 Everton 23rd March 2002
6 Ipswich Town 0-6 Liverpool FC 9th February 2002
6 Chelsea 5-1 West Ham United 20th January 2002
6 Chelsea 5-1 Bolton Wanderers 23rd December 2001
6 Middlesbrough 5-1 Derby County 3rd November 2001
6 Arsenal 2-4 Charlton Athletic 4th November 2001
6 Chelsea 2-4 Southampton 1st January 2002
6 Arsenal 3-3 Blackburn Rovers 20th October 2001
6 Southampton 3-3 Ipswich Town 24th October 2001

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Tommy Williamson Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur 17 years, 4 months, 17 days 11th May 2002
Tommy Wright Leicester City 0-2 Leeds United 17 years, 5 months, 23 days 23rd March 2002
Robert Huth Chelsea 1-3 Aston Villa 17 years, 8 months, 23 days 11th May 2002
Stewart Downing Ipswich Town 1-0 Middlesbrough 17 years, 9 months, 2 days 24th April 2002
Darren Bent Ipswich Town 1-2 Bolton Wanderers 17 years, 9 months, 12 days 18th November 2001
David Murphy Middlesbrough 2-1 Fulham 17 years, 11 months, 20 days 19th February 2002
Scott McDonald Southampton 1-3 Aston Villa 18 years, 1 month, 3 days 24th September 2001
Darren Ambrose Arsenal 2-0 Ipswich Town 18 years, 1 month, 23 days 21st April 2002
Gary Twigg Sunderland 1-1 Derby County 18 years, 1 month, 22 days 11th May 2002
Carlton Cole Chelsea 3-0 Everton 18 years, 5 months, 25 days 6th April 2002

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Raimond van der Gouw Manchester United 0-0 Charlton Athletic 39 years, 1 month, 17 days 11th May 2002
Kevin Poole Everton 3-1 Bolton Wanderers 38 years, 8 months, 11 days 1st April 2002
David Seaman Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal 38 years, 7 months, 19 days 8th May 2002
Mark Hughes Blackburn Rovers 3-0 Fulham 38 years, 6 months, 9 days 11th May 2002
Nigel Winterburn West Ham United 2-1 Bolton Wanderers 38 years, 5 months 11th May 2002
Peter Schmeichel Middlesbrough 2-1 Aston Villa 38 years, 4 months, 19 days 6th April 2002
Lee Dixon Arsenal 4-3 Everton 38 years, 1 month, 24 days 11th May 2002
Gary McAllister Liverpool FC 5-0 Ipswich Town 37 years, 4 months, 16 days 11th May 2002
Gudni Bergsson West Ham United 2-1 Bolton Wanderers 36 years, 9 months, 20 days 11th May 2002
Denis Irwin Manchester United 0-0 Charlton Athletic 36 years, 6 months, 10 days 11th May 2002

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Jerzy Dudek Liverpool FC 18
1= Nigel Martyn Leeds United 18
3 Edwin van der Sar Fulham 15
4 Carlo Cudicini Chelsea 13
5 Dean Kiely Charlton Athletic 12
6= David Seaman Arsenal 10
6= Thomas Sorensen Sunderland 10
8= Fabien Barthez Manchester United 9
8= Shay Given Newcastle United 9
8= David James West Ham United 9

Seasonal Records: 2000-2001

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 2000-2001 Premier League campaign, as two sides from the North West shared the major league and cup prizes between themselves.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester United 38 24 8 6 79 31 +48 80
2 Arsenal 38 20 10 8 63 38 +25 70
3 Liverpool FC 38 20 9 9 71 39 +32 69
4 Leeds United 38 20 8 10 64 43 +21 68
5 Ipswich Town 38 20 6 12 57 42 +15 66
6 Chelsea 38 17 10 11 68 45 +23 61
7 Sunderland 38 15 12 11 46 41 +5 57
8 Aston Villa 38 13 15 10 46 43 +3 54
9 Charlton Athletic 38 14 10 14 50 57 -7 52
10 Southampton 38 14 10 14 40 48 -8 52
11 Newcastle United 38 14 9 15 44 50 -6 51
12 Tottenham Hotspur 38 13 10 15 47 54 -7 49
13 Leicester City 38 14 6 18 39 51 -12 48
14 Middlesbrough 38 9 15 14 44 44 0 42
15 West Ham United 38 10 12 16 45 50 -5 42
16 Everton 38 11 9 18 45 59 -14 42
17 Derby County 38 10 12 16 37 59 -22 42
18 Manchester City 38 8 10 20 41 65 -24 34
19 Coventry City 38 8 10 20 36 63 -27 34
20 Bradford City 38 5 11 22 30 70 -40 26

 

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 992
European qualifiers Manchester United (UEFA Champions League), Arsenal (UEFA Champions League), Liverpool FC (UEFA Champions League), Leeds United (UEFA Cup), Ipswich Town (UEFA Cup), Chelsea (UEFA Cup), Aston Villa (UEFA Intertoto Cup), Newcastle United (UEFA Intertoto Cup)
Longest winning run 8 games (Manchester United)
Longest unbeaten run 13 games (Leeds United)
Longest winless run 13 games (Bradford City & Derby County)
Longest losing run 8 games (Leicester City)
Highest attendance 67,637 (Manchester United vs. Coventry City)
Lowest attendance 15,523 (Bradford City vs. Coventry City)

 

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year Teddy Sheringham (Manchester United)
PFA Young Player of the Year Steven Gerrard (Liverpool FC)
Football Writers’ Award Teddy Sheringham (Manchester United)
PFA Team of the Year Fabien Barthez, Wes Brown, Stephen Carr, Jaap Stam, Sylvinho, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, Steven Gerrard, Ryan Giggs, Thierry Henry, Teddy Sheringham
Manager of the Year George Burley (Ipswich Town)
Premier League Goal of the Season Shaun Bartlett (CHARLTON ATHLETIC vs. Leicester City)

 

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Paulo Wanchope Manchester City vs. Sunderland 4-2 23rd August 2000
Michael Owen Liverpool FC vs. Aston Villa 3-1 6th September 2000
Emile Heskey Derby County vs. Liverpool FC 0-4 15th October 2000
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (4) Chelsea vs. Coventry City 6-1 21st October 2000
Teddy Sheringham Manchester United vs. Southampton 5-0 28th October 2000
Mark Viduka (4) Leeds United vs. Liverpool FC 4-3 4th November 2000
Les Ferdinand Tottenham Hotspur vs. Leicester City 3-0 25th November 2000
Ray Parlour Arsenal vs. Newcastle United 5-0 10th December 2000
Thierry Henry Arsenal vs. Leicester City 6-1 26th December 2000
Kevin Phillips Bradford City vs. Sunderland 1-4 26th December 2000
Dwight Yorke Manchester United vs. Arsenal 6-1 25th February 2001
Sylvain Wiltord Arsenal vs. West Ham United 3-0 3rd March 2001
Marcus Stewart Southampton vs. Ipswich Town 0-3 7th April 2001
Michael Owen Liverpool FC vs. Newcastle United 3-0 5th May 2001

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Chelsea 23
2 Marcus Stewart Ipswich Town 19
3 Thierry Henry Arsenal 17
4 Mark Viduka Leeds United 17
5 Michael Owen Liverpool FC 16
6 Teddy Sheringham Manchester United 15
7 Emile Heskey Liverpool FC 14
8= Kevin Phillips Sunderland 14
8= Alen Boksic Middlesbrough 12
10= Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 11
10= Alan Smith Leeds United 11
10= Jonatan Johansson Charlton Athletic 11
13= James Beattie Southampton 11
13= Freddie Kanoute West Ham United 11
13= Eidur Gudjohnsen Chelsea 10
13= Les Ferdinand Tottenham Hotspur 10
13= Gus Poyet Chelsea 10
13= David Beckham Manchester United 9
13= Lee Bowyer Leeds United 9
20= Gianfranco Zola Chelsea 9
20= Marian Pahars Southampton 9
22= Andy Cole Manchester United 9
22= Sergiy Rebrov Tottenham Hotspur 9
22= Ade Akinbiyi Leicester City 9
22= Paolo di Canio West Ham United 9

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Manchester United 6-0 Bradford City 5th September 2000
Manchester United 6-1 Arsenal 25th February 2001
Arsenal 6-1 Leicester City 26th December 2000
Leeds United 6-1 Bradford City 13th May 2001
Chelsea 6-1 Coventry City 21st October 2000
Manchester United 5-0 Southampton 28th October 2000
Arsenal 5-0 Manchester City 28th October 2000
Arsenal 5-0 Newcastle United 9th December 2000
West Ham United 5-0 Charlton Athletic 26th December 2000
Manchester City 5-0 Everton 9th December 2000

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
8 Arsenal 5-3 Charlton Athletic 26th August 2000
7 Manchester United 6-1 Arsenal 25th February 2001
7 Arsenal 6-1 Leicester City 26th December 2000
7 Leeds United 6-1 Bradford City 13th May 2001
7 Chelsea 6-1 Coventry City 21st October 2000
7 Leeds United 4-3 Liverpool FC 4th November 2000
7 Leeds United 4-3 Tottenham Hotspur 30th September 2000
6 Manchester United 6-0 Bradford City 5th September 2000
6 Manchester United 4-2 Coventry City 14th April 2001
6 Chelsea 4-2 West Ham United 19th August 2000
6 Chelsea 2-4 Sunderland 17th March 2001
6 Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 Newcastle United 2nd January 2001
6 Leicester City 4-2 Tottenham Hotspur 5th May 2001
6 Manchester City 4-2 Sunderland 23rd August 2000
6 Manchester United 3-3 Chelsea 23rd September 2000
6 Charlton Athletic 3-3 Manchester United 9th December 2000
6 Southampton 3-3 Liverpool FC 26th August 2000
6 Charlton Athletic 3-3 Aston Villa 17th April 2001
6 Bradford City 3-3 Tottenham Hotspur 9th December 2000
6 Derby County 3-3 Middlesbrough 6th September 2000

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Calum Davenport Coventry City 0-0 Bradford City 18 years, 4 months, 17 days 19th May 2001
Jay Bothroyd Coventry City 1-2 Manchester United 18 years, 5 months, 30 days 4th November 2000
Carlos Marinelli Middlesbrough 1-1 Aston Villa 18 years, 6 months, 9 days 23rd September 2000
Nabil Abidallah Ipswich Town 2-0 Everton 18 years, 6 months, 19 days 24th February 2001
Jermain Defoe Middlesbrough 2-1 West Ham United 18 years, 7 months, 12 days 19th May 2001
Thomas Hitzlsperger Aston Villa 0-3 Liverpool FC 18 years, 9 months, 8 days 13th January 2001
Joe Cole Chelsea 4-2 West Ham United 18 years, 9 months, 11 days 19th August 2000
Shaun Wright-Phillips Charlton Athletic 4-0 Manchester City 18 years, 9 months, 25 days 19th August 2000
Brian Kerr Coventry City 0-2 Newcastle United 18 years, 10 months, 25 days 6th September 2000
Adam Murray Everton 2-2 Derby County 18 years, 10 months, 27 days 26th August 2000

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
John Lukic Arsenal 0-0 Derby County 39 years, 11 months 11th November 2000
Stuart Pearce Middlesbrough 2-1 West Ham United 39 years, 25 days 19th May 2001
Richard Gough Everton 2-1 Bradford City 39 years, 23 days 28th April 2001
Raimond van der Gouw Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Manchester United 38 years, 1 month, 25 days 19th May 2001
Steve Bould Manchester City 4-2 Sunderland 37 years, 9 months, 7 days 23rd August 2000
David Seaman Newcastle United 0-0 Arsenal 37 years, 7 months, 26 days 15th May 2001
Nigel Winterburn Manchester City 1-0 West Ham United 37 years, 4 months, 17 days 28th April 2001
Lee Dixon Newcastle United 0-0 Arsenal 37 years, 1 month, 28 days 15th May 2001
Andy Goram Southampton 2-1 Manchester United 37 years, 1 month 13th May 2001
Tommy Wright Manchester City 0-1 Newcastle United 37 years, 4 days 30th September 2000

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Fabien Barthez Manchester United 15
2= Sander Westerveld Liverpool FC 14
2= Paul Jones Southampton 14
4 Thomas Sorensen Sunderland 13
5 Richard Wright Ipswich Town 12
6 David Seaman Arsenal 11
7 Mart Poom Derby County 10
8= Nigel Martyn Leeds United 9
8= David James Aston Villa 9
8= Dean Kiely Charlton Athletic 9

Premier League Files: Gary Rowett

Premier League Career: Everton (1994-1995), Derby County (1996-1998), Leicester City (2000-2002), Charlton Athletic (2002-2004)

Now manager of Derby County in the SkyBet Championship, Gary Rowett will be aiming one day to manage in the Premier League. His playing career took him to four clubs in the top-flight and his best days were with the Rams between 1996 and 1998 under the guidance of Jim Smith.

Rowett started his career at Cambridge United and was part of the team that finished fifth in the Second Division during the 1991-1992 campaign, the club’s best league finish to-date. After three strong campaigns at the Abbey Stadium, Rowett was signed by Everton for £200,000 in March 1994. His debut was a nightmare, featuring for just 11 minutes as Everton were crushed 5-1 at Hillsborough by Sheffield Wednesday. He would play only four times in the top-flight for the Toffees.

During his Everton stint, the full-back went out on-loan to Blackpool before being sold onto Derby in a part-exchange which saw Craig Short go to Goodison Park.  He was more of a first-team regular at Derby. His first Premier League goal came in April 1997 in a victory over Aston Villa. He also struck in a win at Coventry City towards the end of the 1996-1997 campaign as Derby finished a creditable 12th in their maiden Premier League season.

He was sold to Birmingham City in 1998 but after failing to win promotion to the Premier League with the Blues, he moved back into the top-flight with Leicester City in 2000. He featured in every single game in 2000-2001 under Peter Taylor and even scored in a fine victory over Chelsea. Injuries then started to catch up with Rowett. He played just 11 times in Leicester’s 2001-2002 relegation season before moving to Charlton Athletic. His final game in the top-flight was on the opening weekend of the 2003-2004 campaign as Charlton went down 3-0 to Manchester City. A persistent knee injury put an end to his career and he went straight into management.

Rowett has managed Burton Albion and Birmingham City. He was surprisingly sacked by Birmingham in December 2016, despite sitting seventh in the Championship table and only outside the playoffs on goal difference. After a brief spell out of the game doing some punditry work with Sky Sports, he returned to management with Derby County in March 2017, succeeding Steve McClaren.

Premier League Files: Riyad Mahrez

Premier League Career: Leicester City (2014-PRESENT)

2015-2016 was the season of Riyad Mahrez’s life. The Algerian came from the periphery at Leicester City to play a prominent role in the club’s shock Premier League title success. He was often overlooked at an early age due to his slenderness. Mahrez may not be a powerhouse but he has bags of tricks within his game and in the Foxes’ title-winning campaign, was at his absolute best.

He began his journey as a youth player at the unheralded French club AAS Sarcelles. He turned professional in 2009 with Quimper before switching over to Le Havre a year later. Leading French teams including Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain had shown significant interest in adding Mahrez to their roster of players but the Algerian turned them down, preferring the youth system at Le Havre. This showed the dedication to his career and the ambition to follow the dream that his late father would have wanted.

Mahrez lost his dad when he was just 15 to a heart attack. Later on during his prominent rise at Leicester, he reflected on this life-changing memory, saying: “I don’t know if I started to be more serious but after the death of my dad things started to go for me. Maybe in my head I wanted it more.”

At Le Havre, he played 60 times for the senior side, scoring six times in three seasons. They were slightly modest figures but it was here where he was spotted by Leicester scout Steve Walsh. Walsh had actually been assigned to watch Mahrez’s teammate Ryan Mendes but it was the skilful midfielder that captured the eye more. When initially approached by the Foxes’, he admitted he had never heard of Leicester and presumed they were only a rugby club! It was a good thing that this was overlooked by the club and they signed him in January 2014. On his departure from French football, he criticised the French second division for a defensive approach and the negative feel towards the game.

After playing a small part in Leicester’s promotion back to the Premier League, the 2014-2015 season was all about starting to attract attention of others. He scored a winning goal away at Hull City and a crucial double in the 2-0 defeat of Southampton in May 2015. Leicester won seven of their last nine matches to miraculously avoid relegation when they looked all but doomed in March.

Claudio Ranieri was brought in to replace Nigel Pearson in pre-season as Leicester manager and he immediately got the best out of Mahrez who would turn out to be an unexpected revelation on the Premier League. He was swiftly out of the starting blocks, scoring four goals in the opening month of the season including an opening day double at home to Sunderland. In December, his hat-trick in the 3-0 victory away at Swansea City not only took Leicester top of the table but it made him the first Algerian to score a Premier League treble. By now, his transfer value had sky-rocketed and many of Europe’s top clubs were being linked with the player. Mahrez stayed loyal to Leicester and to Ranieri too. He and Jamie Vardy were the gems in a team that were heavily overachieving and shocking world football at the same time.

In April 2016, Mahrez won the biggest individual award a player can achieve in England. He was crowned PFA Players’ Player of the Year and voted rightly into the Team of the Year. A week later, Leicester City – 5000/1 outsiders at the start of the season were champions of England! He became the first Algerian to win a Premier League medal in a season that will never be forgotten by many within the game.

There was always going to be a reality check after the highs of 2015-2016. 2016-2017 was a real struggle for both player and club. Mahrez didn’t score from open play until March and saved his best form for the Foxes’ run to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. At the end of the season, he revealed in a statement on the club website and to the Guardian that he wanted to leave the club. It read: “I am fiercely ambitious and feel now is the time to move on to a new experience. I’ve always enjoyed a good relationship with the chairman and everyone at the club, and I hope I have been able to repay the faith shown to me by my performances and commitment on the pitch during my time here.”

Despite this, there were few suitors for Mahrez. Italian club AS Roma made three bids which were rejected by Leicester. To the Algerian’s credit, he has got his head down and played very well in the opening three matches of the 2017-2018 season for the Foxes. Whilst his longer-term future remains in doubt, Riyad Mahrez will continue to play for Leicester City until January 2018 at least. In his time with the club, he has already provided plenty of wonderful memories for the fans at the King Power Stadium.

Premier League Rewind: 11th May 2002

Results: Arsenal 4-3 Everton, Blackburn Rovers 3-0 Fulham, Chelsea 1-3 Aston Villa, Leeds United 1-0 Middlesbrough, Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool FC 5-0 Ipswich Town, Manchester United 0-0 Charlton Athletic, Southampton 3-1 Newcastle United, Sunderland 1-1 Derby County, West Ham United 2-1 Bolton Wanderers

Although the destiny of the championship had been settled a few days earlier, there was still some issues to address on the final day of the 2001-2002 season. The main factor at stake was the final relegation spot. Who would be joining Derby County and Leicester City on a one-way ticket to the First Division?

The favourites to join them in the second-tier were Ipswich Town. George Burley’s side had finished fifth the previous campaign but apart from a brief revival early in 2002, they had failed to find the form that took them so close to UEFA Champions League qualification in 2000-2001. They went to Anfield and had to win to stand any chance of survival.

Liverpool FC were in no mood to be easy either. Midweek results meant a victory here would guarantee their best-ever finishing position in the Premier League of runners-up. They had beaten Ipswich 6-0 at Portman Road in February and another thrashing was on the cards when John Arne Riise fired Liverpool into an 11th minute lead. Ipswich did hit the bar and the Reds’ lost Steven Gerrard to a groin injury which would destroy his World Cup hopes. However, as soon as Riise doubled his tally just before the half-hour mark, the Tractor Boys’ fate was sealed. A mistake from Titus Bramble allowed Michael Owen to score a third seconds into the restart and further goals from substitute Vladimir Smicer and Nicolas Anelka put the seal on the 5-0 final scoreline. Ipswich went down and Liverpool FC had beaten Manchester United in a final league standings table for the first time since 1990.

Ipswich’s nightmare on Merseyside meant Sunderland would survive, regardless of their result at home to Derby County. Kevin Phillips scored the opening goal and although Derby equalised, these sides would be playing in different divisions in 2002-2003. It was a worrying drop for Peter Reid’s side though – a fall of 10 positions on their previous two seasons.

It was a day of parties and celebration at Highbury. Arsenal’s midweek magic at Old Trafford had meant they’d won the double for the second time in four years. Thierry Henry scored twice in an entertaining 4-3 final day victory over Everton to pip Alan Shearer and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to the Golden Boot award. It was the first of four occasions that the Frenchman would come out on top in this race. At the end of the match, Tony Adams lifted aloft the Barclaycard Premiership title which confirmed Arsenal were back at the summit of English football. Adams and Lee Dixon would announce their retirements from professional football shortly after the celebrations had concluded.

Another player saying farewell was Matt Le Tissier. ‘Saint Le Tiss’ had struggled with injuries for the past couple of seasons and had already played his last game for the club. However, he received a guard of honour and presentations on-field before Southampton’s final match of the season which was a 3-1 victory over Newcastle United.

At Old Trafford, there were no trophies to lift at the end of an unsuccessful season but David Beckham did sign a new contract on the eve of a sterile goalless draw between the former champions and Charlton Athletic. Beckham would only feature in one more Premier League season before joining Real Madrid in the summer of 2003.

After 111 years, Leicester City played their final match at Filbert Street before moving to the Walkers’ Stadium (later known as the King Power Stadium). They ended on a high – beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1. The ground was demolished a year later. Elsewhere, Leeds United overtook Chelsea on the final day to finish fifth after beating Middlesbrough 1-0. David O’Leary was sacked though in June and Blackburn’s 3-0 triumph against Fulham ensured a top-10 finish on their return to the top-flight.

What else happened in May 2002?

  • Tragedy hits the rail industry with the fatal accident at Potters Bar railway station. A points’ failure was to blame, leaving seven dead and 76 injured.
  • After 21 years, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning musical “Cats” appears for the last time of its original run at London’s West End. It is revived in 2014.
  • Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones debuts at cinemas.
  • Latvia wins the 2002 Eurovision Song Contest, held in Tallinn, Estonia.
  • African newcomers Senegal stun holders France to win 1-0 in the opening match of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
  • After 26 years of occupation by Indonesia, East Timor regains its independence.
  • McLaren’s David Coulthard wins the Monaco Grand Prix for the second time in his career. It is the last time a team other than Ferrari will win a Formula One event for 10 months.

Iconic Moments: Vardy’s record (November 2015)

Strikers love scoring goals and they take more pleasure when they do it on both a regular and consecutive basis. In August 2003, Ruud van Nistelrooy broke his own mark when he scored for Manchester United on Tyneside against Newcastle United. The Dutchman’s run of finding the back of the net in 10 successive Premier League matches was a mark that would last for 12 years.

Jamie Vardy’s rise through the ranks from non-league footballer to England international has been a phenomenal one. His goals were a huge ingredient towards 5000-1 outsiders Leicester City shocking the sporting world in becoming Premier League champions. His run of scoring in 11 successive matches is a landmark that will be very difficult to beat.

Vardy’s run started with a late penalty in August to earn a 1-1 draw against AFC Bournemouth. Initially, the scoring mark wasn’t talked about as he continued to find the target. Aston Villa, Stoke City, Arsenal, Norwich City and Southampton couldn’t stop him and nor could Crystal Palace in October. Vardy’s winner not only was a goal to take him into strong company but it got people talking. Could he go all the way and break Van Nistelrooy’s mark?

As Leicester’s surge towards the top of the table continued, so did Vardy’s ability to find the back of the net. He scored winning goals away to West Bromwich Albion and at home to Watford. He shook off an injury scare to open the scoring at St James’ Park in a commanding 3-0 win against Newcastle United. That equalled Van Nistelrooy’s mark, ironically in the stadium when Ruud had achieved the current feat.

A week later, leaders Leicester faced third-placed Manchester United. Would Vardy put his name in the record books?  In the 24th minute, Christian Fuchs played an inch-perfect pass inside full-back Matteo Darmian. Vardy latched onto it and finished decisively past David de Gea. The King Power Stadium erupted in a crescendo of noise as Vardy took the acclaim from his overjoyed teammates.

Bastian Schweinsteiger did equalise to earn a point for the Red Devils but the day fully belonged to Jamie Vardy. His place in Premier League history was signed and sealed.

Premier League Rewind: 4th-5th March 2000

Results: Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool FC, Derby County 4-0 Wimbledon, Everton 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Newcastle United 0-1 Chelsea, Southampton 1-1 Middlesbrough, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Bradford City, Watford 1-2 West Ham United, Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal, Leeds United 3-0 Coventry City, Leicester City 5-2 Sunderland

Manchester United were the favourites to retain their Premier League title in the early weeks of March 2000 but they were still under pressure from David O’Leary’s energised and exciting Leeds United side. Weeks earlier, Sir Alex Ferguson’s team had opened up a five-point lead with a game in hand after winning at Elland Road. However, dropped points away at Wimbledon had seen Leeds stay in striking touch and that would continue on the weekend of 4th-5th March.

The Red Devils’ were first in action for the weekend with a lunchtime kick-off against bitter rivals Liverpool FC. Gerard Houllier had insisted in the build-up to this match that his side were ready to inflict defeat on their great enemy. They came very close to achieving his prediction. Patrik Berger scored a spectacular free-kick to give the visitors’ the lead. United’s equaliser was controversial. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went unpunished for a high challenge on Sami Hyypia. Whilst the Finn was off receiving treatment, Solskjaer scored the equaliser in stoppage-time at the end of the first half. Only some wasteful finishing by Liverpool FC forwards Titi Camara, Erik Meijer and the returning Michael Owen ensured this encounter would finish all-square.

So, Leeds had the chance to close the gap to four points by the end of the weekend. They achieved this 24 hours’ later with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Coventry City who were still winless away from Highfield Road. The impressive Harry Kewell opened the scoring in the season where he was crowned the PFA Young Player of the Year and Michael Bridges added another two to his growing tally in his only injury-free season in Yorkshire.

Third-place Arsenal were unable to cash in on Manchester United’s dropped points at home as they held to a 1-1 draw by Aston Villa on the same Sunday afternoon. In fact, it looked like they were heading for defeat at Villa Park for the third successive campaign before a rare goal from Lee Dixon in the 84th minute rescued a point.

So Chelsea finished the weekend in third spot and therefore in the final qualification spot for next season’s UEFA Champions League. Gus Poyet scored the solitary goal in a 1-0 away win at Newcastle United. Newcastle would be sick of the sight of the Uruguayan by the season’s end. A month later, it was his double that beat the Magpies’ in the FA Cup semi-finals.

A month earlier, Leicester City had taken a gamble to sign Stan Collymore. Collymore’s time at Aston Villa had not been good. He had spectacularly fallen out with John Gregory, been treated for depression and attracted unsavoury off-the-field headlines. Days before the club’s televised Super Sunday match with Sunderland; reports emerged of an incident at a hotel in La Manga where Collymore had let off a fire extinguisher during a training camp. The team was kicked out of the resort they had been staying in and the forward was fined two weeks’ wages. Manager Martin O’Neill was unimpressed, saying: “I think it is a warning to Stan. This, in footballing parlance, is a yellow card.”

Collymore responded in the best possible fashion, scoring a brilliant hat-trick in Leicester’s 5-2 victory over the Black Cats’ – his finest display in the Premier League for several seasons. The match also saw Emile Heskey score his final goal for the club. He would be transferred weeks later to Liverpool FC for over £11 million.

The status at the bottom of the table remained unchanged but the plight of Wimbledon was becoming evident. A week after the club’s charismatic guvnor Sam Hamann had left the club, the Dons looked lost away at Derby County. They completely caved in during the last 25 minutes at Pride Park, losing 4-0 and showing a lack of urgency that would signal all was not good between manager Egil Olsen and his players. Wimbledon ended the weekend in 16th and just three points clear of the drop zone. Those spots were occupied by Bradford City, Sheffield Wednesday and Watford.

What else happened in March 2000?

  • Vladimir Putin is elected as the new President of Russia.
  • The PlayStation 2 is released in Japan. Several months later, it becomes the best-selling games console of all-time.
  • There is a change in the official currency of Ecuador with the US dollar replacing the Ecuadorian Sucre.
  • Channel 5 wins the rights to screen Home and Away in the UK, meaning its affiliation with ITV ends. ITV had broadcasted the Aussie soap since 1989.
  • 9-2 shot Looks Like Trouble wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup, ridden by Richard Johnson.
  • Macy Gray, Travis and Robbie Williams are the big winners at the BRITS, winning two awards each.

The Managers: Brian Little

Premier League Clubs Managed: Leicester City (1994), Aston Villa (1994-1998)

Brian Little spent his entire playing career at Aston Villa. He played 247 times for the Villans from 1970 to 1980, winning two League Cups and the Third Division in 1972.

Aston Villa has been a huge part of his life, both as a player and a manager. Today, he is back at the club for a third different role, acting as an advisor on the board.

His early management days began with a caretaker stint at Wolverhampton Wanderers in August 1986 but it was at Darlington where he began to make a name for himself. Brian achieved back-to-back promotions to the old Third Division.

Third time lucky

In June 1991, he got the role as boss of Leicester City and a story of near-misses would follow in the dreaded playoffs. At the end of his first full season, he took the Foxes’ to the Second Division final against cash-rich Blackburn Rovers. The winner from the Wembley showdown would be promoted into the first season of the FA Premier League.

Mike Newell’s spot-kick settled the match in Blackburn’s favour and they would end up playing in the inaugural campaign. If Leicester had won, who knows what would have happened but it is unlikely Blackburn would have achieved the success they did if they hadn’t been promoted from this match.

If 1992 hurt, 1993 would be even more painful. Having trailed 3-0 in the playoff final, Leicester levelled the match with Swindon Town, before eventually going down 4-3 to Glenn Hoddle’s men. This time, Leicester were seen as favourites pre-match so this was an even bigger disappointment.

Foxes’ supporters were getting used to the Wembley journey every May. They were back in 1994 for a final with East Midlands rivals Derby County. Finally, it was third time lucky. A 2-1 victory meant Little had guided Leicester into the Premier League.

Life was going to be tough and it became evident very quickly that the quality of the playing squad simply wasn’t Premier League material, despite impressive individual displays over the season from the likes of Mark Draper and Julian Joachim. There were just two wins from their first 10 matches and Leicester quickly became a regular fixture in the relegation zone.

In November 1994, Ron Atkinson was dismissed by Doug Ellis at Aston Villa. As a former player, Little was immediately linked to the Villa Park post despite being under contract to Leicester. On 22 November, three days after a 1-0 home defeat to Manchester City, he resigned his position as Leicester manager to manoeuvre a switch to the club he endeared the most. He was back at Filbert Street in the visiting dugout less than a fortnight later and it is fair to say it wasn’t a generous welcome back either.

Big reshape

Little inherited an Aston Villa squad that was beginning to show its age. The club was fighting a relegation battle and he quickly realised the predicament. He failed to win any of his first five games with Villa, with three goals only scored in this period. A more positive run of just one defeat in nine followed which guided the club into mid-table and won him the January 1995 Manager of the Month award. Then, a nightmare run saw no Villa player score in eight successive matches. A 2-0 victory over Liverpool FC on the penultimate weekend was ultimately enough to keep the club up.

A big reshape was needed in the summer of 1995. The likes of Ray Houghton, Garry Parker, Earl Barrett and Dean Saunders were moved on and in came Draper and Joachim from his former club Leicester, along with Gareth Southgate, Alan Wright and Savo Milosevic. 1995-1996 was the most successful season for many years at Villa Park. The club won their second League Cup in three years with a 3-0 triumph over Leeds United at Wembley. They also finished a fantastic fourth in the Premier League and still had a realistic outside title shot until a 3-0 loss at Anfield in early March to a rampant Liverpool FC and Robbie Fowler. Fowler would go on to crush the club’s FA Cup hopes too with a semi-final hat-trick at Old Trafford. However, huge strides had been made.

Unfortunately, Brian couldn’t quite take it onto the next level, even though he got the best out of Dwight Yorke who combined well with Milosevic and formed the central defensive partnership of Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu which would excel in the Premier League for the next decade. A fifth-place finish followed in 1996-1997 but 1997-1998 was a big disappointment. The £7million signing of Stan Collymore didn’t pay off and with the club in the bottom half by February 1998, Little decided to resign, feeling he couldn’t take the club further. His former assistant John Gregory returned to the club and turned results around. Villa finished eighth and qualified for the UEFA Cup for a third consecutive campaign.

After Villa, further management spells would follow outside the top-flight at Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion, Hull City, Tranmere Rovers, Wrexham and Gainsborough Trinity. Little’s last management position was back in 2011.

Now back for a third stint at Aston Villa, Little only has a watching brief but will be hoping Steve Bruce can get the club back into the top-flight following their wretched 2015-2016 season that ended with relegation to the Championship. A manager who did the job with the minimum of fuss, Brian Little’s time at Aston Villa is often undervalued but he did very well to stabilise the club into a top Premier League contender throughout the mid-90s.