Tag Archives: Red Card

Iconic Moments: Spurs’ damaging day at Stoke (October 2008)

In every Premier League season, some clubs will have a day to truly forget where everything you try virtually goes wrong. For Tottenham Hotspur, they haven’t had many more chaotic days than the damaging defeat they suffered away at newly-promoted Stoke City in October 2008.

Tottenham were in major trouble ahead of their trip to The Britannia Stadium. They were without a win in seven matches and rooted to the foot of the Premier League table. Manager Juande Ramos was under huge pressure and he needed a win to revive his fortunes.

The first incident occurred on 17 minutes. Gareth Bale dallied in possession and then fouled Tom Soares with the midfielder in a goalscoring position. The Welshman was given a straight red card by referee Lee Mason and Danny Higginbotham tucked away the spot-kick.

Darren Bent did equalise seven minutes later to ensure the teams went into the dressing rooms level at the break but things didn’t improve for Spurs and their embattled manager in the second half. First, Rory Delap was picked out by Mamady Sidibe and finished coolly at the far post to give Stoke back their lead. Then, Vedran Corluka was taken to hospital after being knocked unconscious in a nasty collision with his own goalkeeper, Heurelho Gomes.

11 minutes of stoppage-time were added with Corluka stretchered off requiring oxygen and Tottenham’s nightmare continued when Jonathan Woodgate bundled over Soares and Mason gave a second penalty. This time, Ricardo Fuller couldn’t convert the chance with his spot-kick hitting the post. To compound matters, Michael Dawson was sent off for a horror challenge on Sidibe.

Stoke won 2-1 and Tottenham had just two points from eight games. Not many teams can beat this kind of day, conceding two penalties, having two players sent off, losing a player to an injury in a collision with his own goalkeeper and losing the match!

Ramos was sacked a few days later and replaced in the dugout by the outgoing Portsmouth boss, Harry Redknapp.

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Shock Results: Nottingham Forest 2-1 Arsenal (December 1996)

Goalscorers: Ian Wright 63, Alf-Inge Haaland 67, 89

Teams:

Nottingham Forest: Mark Crossley, Colin Cooper, Steve Chettle, Stuart Pearce, Nikola Jerkan (Des Lyttle 85), Chris Allen, Alf-Inge Haaland, Ian Woan, Kevin Campbell, Bryan Roy (Nigel Clough 65), Dean Saunders

Arsenal: John Lukic, Steve Bould, Martin Keown, Andy Linighan, Nigel Winterburn, Remi Garde (Steve Morrow 78), Gavin McGowan (Ray Parlour 69), David Platt, Paul Merson, Dennis Bergkamp (John Hartson 74), Ian Wright (SENT OFF)

Referee: Stephen Lodge, Attendance: 27,384

Nottingham Forest were in dire straits going into the 1996 Christmas period. With just one victory all season, popular manager Frank Clark had left leading up to this fixture against Arsenal after three and a half years at the helm. England defender Stuart Pearce was given the challenge to try and keep the club in the Premier League in a caretaker capacity.

His first match against Arsenal couldn’t be much harder. The Gunners were firmly in the shake-up for the Premier League title and manager Arsene Wenger had only tasted defeat once since becoming the club’s permanent boss in October. He did arrive at The City Ground with David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira all absent. However, he could welcome Dennis Bergkamp back after he’d missed the last four matches with a hamstring injury.

On a chilly afternoon by the River Trent, goalscoring chances were few and far between in the first 45 minutes. As anticipated pre-match, the visitors had the best of the moments. Martin Keown had the best opportunity after a nice interchange of passes with Bergkamp. However, he scuffed his shot well wide of the post. There was also a tense exchange between Arsenal teammates Ian Wright and Paul Merson which involved some shoving and set the tone for Wright’s troubled afternoon.

Wenger’s side took the lead on 63 minutes. Mark Crossley dropped a cross from Nigel Winterburn. Keown challenged for the loose ball and it broke to Wright who lashed the ball into the unguarded net. However, Forest responded with an equaliser just four minutes later. Fine work on the left-hand side from Dean Saunders saw his cross find Alf-Inge Haaland, who swept home.

The flashpoint moment came on 70 minutes when referee Stephen Lodge sent Wright off for the first time in his Arsenal career. Having won a free-kick for being body checked by Nikola Jerkan, Wright got involved further. Television replays showed him stamping on the foot of the Croatian. There was definitely an overreaction from Jerkan but after consultation from his linesman closest to the incident, Lodge brandished the red card in Wright’s direction.

Forest sensed a winner was there for the taking. The decisive goal came one minute from full-time. Kevin Campbell and Andy Linighan battled for the ball in the penalty area and the ball ricocheted to the feet of Norwegian Haaland. From 10-yards out, he drilled past John Lukic to set Pearce up for a dream start in his caretaker role.

Nottingham Forest were relegated before the season’s end whilst Arsenal finished in third position but this was a day which showed that in the Premier League, nothing is certain until the final whistle.

Shock Results: Queens Park Rangers 1-0 Chelsea (October 2011)

Goalscorer: Heidar Helguson 10 PEN

Teams:

Queens Park Rangers: Paddy Kenny, Anton Ferdinand, Fitz Hall, Clint Hill, Luke Young, Joey Barton, Shaun Derry (Jamie Mackie 82), Alejandro Faurlin, Adel Taarabt (Tommy Smith 62), Shaun Wright-Phillips, Heidar Helguson

Chelsea: Petr Cech, Jose Boswinga (SENT OFF), Ashley Cole, David Luiz, John Terry, John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard, Raul Meireles (Florent Malouda 72), Juan Mata (Nicolas Anelka 45), Didier Drogba (SENT OFF), Daniel Sturridge (Branislav Ivanovic 36)

Referee: Chris Foy, Attendance: 18,050

The West London Derby in October 2011 between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea will go down in the annuals as one of the stormiest clashes in Premier League history. The ramifications of this defeat for Chelsea would last for over a year and ultimately, saw their captain retire from international football and see his reputation damaged heavily.

Chelsea went into this game as favourites to claim all three points in the first Premier League meeting between the teams since March 1996. Victory would see Andre Villas-Boas’ side move into second place in the Premier League table after Manchester United’s derby humiliation at the hands of Manchester City earlier in the afternoon.

Referee Chris Foy was set for a busy afternoon and his first big decision came after just 10 minutes. David Luiz clumsily shoved Heidar Helguson in the penalty area. The Icelandic striker went to ground easily but it was an unnecessary challenge from the Brazilian and there was enough contact for Foy to award QPR a penalty. Helguson took responsibility, snatching the ball off Adel Taarabt and got his spot-kick just beyond Petr Cech’s dive to give Neil Warnock’s side an early lead.

Chelsea were controlling possession but lacking a cutting edge and then, they completely lost their discipline in eight mad minutes. First on 33 minutes, ex-Chelsea winger Shaun Wright-Phillips got goal-side of Jose Bosingwa who brought him down. The incident was adjudged to be denying a goalscoring opportunity although this was debatable as John Terry was covering. Nevertheless, Foy brandished the red card and Chelsea were furious, challenging the referee to change his mind. He didn’t and Bosingwa had to walk, much to Villas-Boas’ chagrin.

Daniel Sturridge was substituted to allow the defensively-minded Branislav Ivanovic to arrive in the right-back role. However moments later, Sturridge’s strike partner was also off the pitch as he became the second player to see red for the aggrieved visitors. This time, there could be little complaint. Didier Drogba dived rashly into a tackle on Taarabt and his two-footed lunge caught the Moroccan. He gave the referee no choice but to send him off and he knew it, judging by his reaction when his fate was sealed. This meant Juan Mata had to be sacrificed at half-time and with his departure, any creative influence Chelsea had was diminished.

The Blues managed just two shots on-target and the game turned into a nasty affair, with sly challenges and constant fouls which suited Warnock’s side fine. Luke Young missed a couple of good opportunities to extend QPR’s lead and the biggest obstacle Paddy Kenny had to face was to save a header from close-range by half-time substitute Nicolas Anelka.

The controversy didn’t end when Terry and Kenny clashed in the six-yard box. Anton Ferdinand got involved in the argument and Terry was seen by the television cameras yelling some profanity at Ferdinand’s direction. An allegation was made that the comment had been racist and it led to a criminal investigation. Terry was later charged by the FA, stripped of the England captaincy and elected to retire from international football before an FA hearing almost a year later. He was banned for four matches and fined £220,000.

Ultimately, this overshadowed a brilliant victory for QPR who kept their cool in a tempestuous setting and it was their first home victory infront of their home supporters since returning to the Premier League. They avoided relegation on the last day, whilst Chelsea finished a disappointing sixth but still qualified for the UEFA Champions League after winning the competition, beating Bayern Munich on penalties in the final.

Premier League Files: Duncan Ferguson

Premier League Career: Everton (1994-1998, 2000-2006), Newcastle United (1998-2000)

Off-the-pitch, Duncan Ferguson has shown compassion, kindness and consideration for the city of Liverpool and especially, the club he fell in love with – Everton. Ferguson is a true blue and is back at the club now as a first-team coach – a role he has held since 2014. His passion could make him a manager of the future if he wants it.

On-the-pitch, “Big Dunc” was a fearsome, savage, no-nonsense character. In his career, he collected nine red cards and eight of those were in the Premier League. This means he holds the joint-record for dismissals in the Premier League Years along with former teammate Richard Dunne and Patrick Vieira.

Ferguson began his professional career in Scottish football with Dundee United in 1990. As a 22-year-old, Rangers showed great interest in his services after scoring 28 goals in 77 league appearances for the men from Tannadice. In 1993, Ferguson moved to Rangers for a British transfer record fee of £4 million. The move to Glasgow didn’t go well and in 1994, he was booked in a 4-0 victory over Raith Rovers for a head-butt on visiting player, John McStay. He was subsequently charged with assault and as it was his fourth conviction after other altercations off-the-pitch, he would end up in court for these actions.

With a lack of playing time at Rangers, Ferguson moved to Everton in October 1994 on a three-month loan deal, along with teammate Ian Durrant. Under-pressure manager Mike Walker was desperate to turn his fortunes around and hoped the pair could produce for him. He was sacked three weeks after their arrivals but his successor, Joe Royle, was immediately impressed by Ferguson. He quickly turned the loan switch into a permanent move and Duncan responded by scoring the first goal in Royle’s Everton’s management – a 2-0 victory over Liverpool FC in November 1994. Ferguson would later score a winning goal that season against Manchester United and ended the campaign as an FA Cup winner – his only club honour.

The 1995-1996 season was less successful. A hernia problem restricted him to just 18 appearances, scoring five goals in the league. Also, his Ibrox head-butt saw him convicted in the autumn of 1995 and jailed for three months – sweeping the prison floors for £6.50 a week. He came back into the first-team on his release and in December 1997, became the first-ever player in Premier League history to score a hat-trick of headers when he achieved the feat in a 3-2 victory against Bolton Wanderers. They were crucial goals as the Toffees avoided relegation on goal difference, at Bolton’s expense.

In November 1998, Everton beat Newcastle United 1-0 at Goodison Park. During the game, the respective owners of the two clubs reached an agreement for Ferguson to be sold to Newcastle for £8 million. Toffees manager Walter Smith wasn’t consulted about the transfer and furious that his club captain could be sold behind his back. Ferguson wrote a two-page goodbye letter in the club magazine to fans. He admitted he would never forget the fans or the club but was looking forward to pairing up with Alan Shearer, saying at his press conference unveiling: “Everybody knows that Alan Shearer is one of the best players in Europe and I’m looking forward to teaming up with him. I think it will be a good partnership.”

He made a brilliant start to his Newcastle career, scoring twice on his debut in a 3-1 victory over Wimbledon. However, injuries ruined his 18-month spell on Tyneside. He did experience a second FA Cup final in 1999, appearing as a second half substitute in the 2-0 loss to Manchester United. After just 30 league appearances, scoring eight goals, Sir Bobby Robson sold him back to Everton in August 2000 for £3.75 million. That was for less than half the price the Magpies had paid for him.

Ferguson again enjoyed a successful debut, scoring on his return to the club against Charlton Athletic. He made 123 further league appearances but injuries and the form of the likes of Tomasz Radzinski, Kevin Campbell and an upcoming Wayne Rooney meant Duncan became more of a back-up player in his second spell with the club. In September 2005, he received the final red card of his Premier League career for violent conduct against Wigan Athletic and received a seven-match ban for his confrontations with Paul Scharner and Pascal Chimbonda.

His final game was against West Bromwich Albion in May 2006, scoring in his final match. He retired after his contract wasn’t renewed and moved his family to Mallorca. After five years in Spain, Ferguson returned to Everton in a coaching capacity, working first in the academy before taking a first-team coaching role when Roberto Martinez succeeded David Moyes, joining the backroom team in March 2014 when he successfully completed his UEFA coaching badges. Ferguson has since remained part of the coaching team under the management of Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce and Marco Silva.

Shock Results: Wigan Athletic 3-1 Chelsea (September 2009)

Goalscorers: Titus Bramble 16, Didier Drogba 47, Hugo Rodallega 53 PEN, Paul Scharner 90

Teams:

Wigan Athletic: Chris Kirkland, Emmerson Boyce, Titus Bramble, Maynor Figueroa, Mario Melchiot, Paul Scharner, Mohamed Diame, Hendry Thomas, Charles N’Zogbia, Hugo Rodallega, Jason Scotland (Marlon King 88)

Chelsea: Petr Cech (SENT OFF), Jose Bosingwa (Salomon Kalou 68), Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry, Ashley Cole, John Obi Mikel (Juliano Belletti 46), Michael Essien, Frank Lampard, Florent Malouda (Hilario 52), Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba

Referee: Phil Dowd, Attendance: 18,542

Carlo Ancelotti had made a business-like start to his career as Chelsea manager. Six straight victories had the Blues top of the table and defending a 100% record. They were anticipated to extend that run when they travelled to The DW Stadium to face Wigan Athletic in September 2009. Since beating Aston Villa on the opening weekend, Roberto Martinez’s side had recorded just further victory and sat dangerously close to the bottom three. This was a real turn-up.

The Latics had never beaten Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United or Liverpool FC since joining the Premier League party in 2005. So, they were looking to create some history here and they took a deserved lead after 15 minutes. Charles N’Zogbia collected the ball from a short corner and delivered an inch-perfect cross. Titus Bramble took advantage of a Chelsea backline that looked surprised by the nature of the set-piece and his header found the back of Petr Cech’s net.

Wigan dominated the first half and could have increased their lead. Cech had to show his superb reflexes to keep out another defender in the form of Emmerson Boyce. Meanwhile, only a last-ditch tackle from skipper John Terry stopped Jason Scotland from finding the back of the net on his first Premier League start for Wigan.

Martinez’s side were applauded off-the-pitch by the fans after an excellent opening first half performance. However, they only had the one goal to show for their efforts and within 90 seconds of the restart, Chelsea had awoken from their slumber and drew level. Florent Malouda made a game breaking run and this created space for Didier Drogba to squeeze a shot in-between Chris Kirkland’s legs. This was Drogba’s 100th goal for Chelsea in all competitions as he continued to set the early season pace in the race for the Golden Boot.

Six minutes later though, Wigan were back ahead with a moment which would prove to be decisive in the contest. Hugo Rodallega was tripped in the penalty area by Cech. The penalty was given by referee Phil Dowd and with the Colombian set to score had he not been impeded; Dowd had little option but to show the red card to the Chelsea shot-stopper. It was Cech’s first red card of his Blues career. Malouda was sacrificed by Ancelotti to allow the substitute goalkeeper, Hilario, to come on as Cech’s replacement. His first job was to pick the ball out of the net as Rodallega picked himself up, dusted himself down and drove his spot-kick down the middle of the goal to restore Wigan’s lead.

Chelsea actually finished with nine men as Ashley Cole limped off in the closing stages with injury and the home side consigned Ancelotti to a first loss as Chelsea manager when Paul Scharner tapped home from close-range in stoppage-time after reaching Maynor Figueroa’s cutback across the penalty area.

Chelsea got their revenge spectacularly on the final day of the 2009-2010 season. They beat Wigan 8-0 to wrap up their third Premier League title. However, this was one of Wigan’s finest results in a season that also saw Arsenal and Liverpool FC beaten at The DW Stadium.

Shock Results: Leicester City 0-3 Crystal Palace (December 2017)

Goalscorers: Christian Benteke 19, Wilfried Zaha 40, Bakary Sako 90

Teams:

Leicester City: Kasper Schmeichel, Ben Chilwell, Harry Maguire, Wes Morgan, Danny Simpson, Vicente Iborra (Shinji Okazaki 77), Wilfred Ndidi (SENT OFF), Marc Albrighton (Andy King 77), Demarai Gray, Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy (Leonardo Ulloa 85)

Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni, Scott Dann, James Tomkins, Martin Kelly, Jeff Schlupp, Yohan Cabaye (Jairo Riedewald 85), James McArthur, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha, Christian Benteke (Bakary Sako 88)

Referee: Martin Atkinson, Attendance: 31,081

After their truly abysmal start to the 2017-2018 season that yielded no points from seven matches, Crystal Palace were starting to recover by the time Christmas arrived. The Eagles had found some form at Selhurst Park but were still without the magic formula on their travels. They hadn’t even scored away from home by the time they travelled to The King Power Stadium.

They faced a rejuvenated Leicester City. Two months earlier, the former Premier League champions had dispensed with the services of Craig Shakespeare as manager after just one win in their first eight matches. Now, Claude Puel had steered them to four successive victories and just one defeat in seven matches, which had come against Manchester City. With Palace’s pompous away record, this looked like a home banker on many of the weekend’s accumulators.

However, Roy Hodgson’s team were about to tear up the formbook, producing a dazzling display that left the Foxes in a Saturday lunchtime daze. Palace took control of the game from the opening moments and deservedly took the lead after 19 minutes. Christian Benteke showed some of his old form to power a header past Kasper Schmeichel after he met Andros Townsend’s deep cross. It was the perfect response from Benteke, who had taken a spot-kick against AFC Bournemouth a week earlier and missed having gone against team instructions from his manager.

Only a yellow card which led to a suspension would temper Benteke’s afternoon. The Belgian was a menace throughout and so was the ever-increasingly influential Wilfried Zaha. Five minutes before half-time, he doubled the advantage for the south-east Londoners, producing a lovely stepover to beat Ben Chilwell, then producing a devastating finish past Schmeichel. Leicester looked shell-shocked. This was almost a completely different team from the one that had just dismantled Southampton 4-1 in their own backyard less than 72 hours earlier.

Puel’s side did rally after the break. Vicente Iborra had the ball in the net but it was rightfully disallowed for a foul in the build-up, whilst veteran goalkeeper Julian Speroni was at full stretch to deny Riyad Mahrez from distance. Any realistic hope Leicester had of getting back into the match though was ended by Wilfred Ndidi’s dismissal just past the hour mark. On his 21st birthday, Ndidi went down cheaply in the penalty area looking for a spot-kick. Martin Atkinson wasn’t falling for this trick and booked the Nigerian for simulation. That was his second bookable offence, leading to an early bath and a dressing-down from his manager. It wasn’t a birthday to remember for Ndidi.

Crystal Palace saw the game out comfortably with the extra man advantage and Benteke was slightly unfortunate not to win a penalty for his side late on when it seemed like Marc Albrighton had tripped him. In stoppage-time, it was his replacement, Bakary Sako who added the gloss to an almost perfect away performance with a fine finish.

There were still nine points between the sides on the full-time whistle but this win and a resounding 5-0 victory at Selhurst Park in April made Leicester a very favourable opponent for Crystal Palace in the 2017-2018 Premier League season.

Shock Results: Chelsea 2-3 Burnley (August 2017)

Goalscorers: Sam Vokes 24, 43, Stephen Ward 39, Alvaro Morata 69, David Luiz 88

Teams:

Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso, Gary Cahill (SENT OFF), David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger, N’Golo Kante, Cesc Fabregas (SENT OFF), Jerome Boga (Andreas Christensen 18), (Charly Musonda 90), Willian, Michy Batshuayi (Alvaro Morata 59)

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Ben Mee, Matthew Lowton, James Tarkowski, Stephen Ward, Jack Cork, Steven Defour (Jon Walters 75), Jeff Hendrick, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Robbie Brady, Sam Vokes

Referee: Craig Pawson, Attendance: 41,616

Reigning champions Chelsea were once again expected to be among the frontrunners for the Premier League title in 2017-2018. On the opening weekend of the season, Antonio Conte’s side faced Burnley, who were starting their fourth Premier League campaign. On their three previous visits to Stamford Bridge, the Clarets had conceded seven goals. So, they were considered major outsiders.

However, the champions imploded in a spectacular first 45 minutes which was to be the story of their season. The first sign of trouble for the hosts came after just 14 minutes when referee Craig Pawson dished out a straight red card to Chelsea skipper Gary Cahill. Cahill, who had taken on the role on a full-time basis following John Terry’s summer departure, made a lunging two-footed tackle on Burnley midfielder Steven Defour. It was classed as dangerous play by Pawson and Cahill could have few complaints. This meant Jerome Boga’s shock debut was over too, sacrificed to make way for defensive centre-back Andreas Christensen.

Nine minutes later, Burnley fully capitalised on the extra man advantage as Sam Vokes fired the visitors ahead with a volley beyond Thibaut Courtois. It would get worse for a stunned home faithful. Six minutes before half-time, Burnley put together a brilliant team move which led to their second goal. It was left-back Stephen Ward who finished the move off, firing an angled drive beyond Courtois’ despairing dive. Incredibly, it was 3-0 just four minutes later. A flying header from Vokes continued his red-hot streak and put Burnley fans into dreamland. The Welshman had now scored seven goals in his last six Premier League matches dating back to the end of the previous season. The scoreline was even more spectacular considering Burnley had won just one away match in the whole of the previous campaign and that had been at the end of April at Crystal Palace.

Conte looked a pale shadow of the energetic character Chelsea fans had seen on the touchline during his debut Premier League season and he urgently needed a reaction from his misfiring players in the second half. The belated arrival of Alvaro Morata in the 59th minute was the galvanising factor in their second half improvement. 10 minutes after his arrival, the Spaniard, who had joined from Real Madrid, had his first goal for his new employers, heading home from close-range.

Any hopes of Chelsea salvaging something from the contest were as good as over when Cesc Fabregas added to Conte’s headaches. Booked needlessly for dissent in the first half, the Spaniard’s clumsy challenge on Jack Cork with nine minutes left to play saw him heading for an early shower and reduced Chelsea to nine men.

David Luiz did pull another goal back just before stoppage-time but it was too little, too late. Burnley held on for a famous victory. Sean Dyche’s side were one of the success stories of the season and will be playing in UEFA Europa League qualifying later this week as a reward for their seventh-place finish. Chelsea’s fifth-place league result was very disappointing and Conte was sacked in July 2018.

The Managers: Micky Adams

Premier League Clubs Managed: Leicester City (2002, 2003-2004)

In a 19-year professional playing career, Micky Adams made 438 league appearances and experienced the Premier League as a player with Southampton. He made the step into management with Fulham in 1996 and has earned four promotions during his career. Unfortunately, his only full season in the Premier League as a boss ended with Leicester City suffering relegation in 2003-2004.

A Premier League player

Raised from the steel city of Sheffield, Adams made his playing breakthrough with Gillingham in 1978. He came through the playing ranks at the same time as fellow Premier League manager of the future, Steve Bruce and made nearly 100 appearances for the Gills before moving into the top-flight of the Football League, joining Coventry City in 1983. Again, he featured almost 100 times for the Sky Blues but he wasn’t well-appreciated by the supporters or the coaching staff and eventually moved to Leeds United in 1987. He left Coventry before their FA Cup final victory and it was actually the Midlands side that ended Leeds’ hopes of the famous trophy that season in the semi-final stage.

His most productive league spell of his playing days came at Southampton. Operating as a full-back, he joined the Saints for £250,000 in March 1989. It took him 18 months to earn himself a regular place in the team at The Dell. In the inaugural season of the Premier League, he played in 38 of the club’s 42 matches but is in the record books of the league for the wrong reasons. For dissent, he was given the red card in Southampton’s second match of the season against Queens Park Rangers. This meant he became the first-ever player in the Premier League to receive a red card.

His career in the top-flight ended when Alan Ball replaced Ian Branfoot as Southampton manager in January 1994. Ball elected to start Simon Charlton ahead of Adams and he was shipped out on-loan to Stoke City in March. Fulham signed him on a free transfer in the summer of 1994, reuniting him with Branfoot who would help Adams out with his first steps into coaching. However, it would be a real baptism of fire in which he would get the Fulham job as a manager.

91st out of 92

When Branfoot stepped down in March 1996, Fulham were sitting 91st out of 92 clubs in the top four divisions of English football. Relegation to the non-league looked like a distinct possibility so it was to be a real test of Micky’s managerial credentials straightaway.

He kept them up and in the following season, guided the Cottagers back to Division Two as they finished runners-up in the Third Division. His work won him Manager of the Season honours with limited resources to work on in west London.

In September 1997, his reward for starting Fulham’s charge up the divisions was the sack. Owner Mohammed Al Fayed decided to replace him with a higher-profile appointment as Ray Wilkins and Kevin Keegan moved into the dugout at Craven Cottage. That was four months after he had signed a five-year contract to stay on as Fulham boss.

He dropped down a division to join Swansea City but his reign there was short and not positive. He lasted a mere 13 days and oversaw just three games. Adams claimed money that had been promised to reinvest in the playing squad was not forthcoming. Before the season was out, he also had a go at managing a struggling Brentford side in the Second Division but couldn’t prevent them from being relegated. He was dismissed following their relegation with owner Ron Noades deciding to make himself the manager instead.

It is fair to say 1997-1998 was not a good season for Micky Adams.

From Brighton to Bassett

After a short break from management, Micky returned with Brighton & Hove Albion in April 1999. He arrived with the club in financial trouble, having been forced to sell their ground just to keep afloat. The only transfer fee he invested on during his time as Brighton boss was to sign Bobby Zamora for £100,000.

After leading Albion to a mid-table position in his first full season on the south coast, he led them to the Division Three title in 2000-2001 by 10 points. This led to him collecting a second Manager of the Season award. He felt though he had taken Brighton as far as he could and was disappointed to be overlooked for top-flight positions in the summer of 2001 at both Southampton and West Ham United.

In October 2001, he left Brighton to become Dave Bassett’s assistant manager at the Premier League’s basement side, Leicester City. The pair had worked together for six months at Nottingham Forest in 1998 and were brought in to try and rescue the Foxes precarious position. They had mustered just one victory in eight games at the start of the 2001-2002 campaign.

Bassett couldn’t save Leicester. The squad simply wasn’t good enough or confident enough to stay up in the Premier League. Days before their top-flight demise would be confirmed by a home defeat to Manchester United, Leicester confirmed Bassett would move into a Director of Football role and Adams would succeed him as manager. He was in-charge of the club’s final-ever match at Filbert Street which saw them defeat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on the final day of the season.

Despite Leicester propping up debts of almost £30 million on their relegation which led to a transfer embargo, Adams guided the club back to the Premier League at the first attempt of asking. Leicester finished runners-up to Portsmouth in the 2002-2003 First Division.

His work received praise from the man who replaced him at Fulham, Keegan. In November 2003, he said: “I have a lot of respect for Micky Adams, who has proved himself at all levels. He has gone into clubs with little or no money to spend and shown he is not afraid of taking on tough jobs.”

A testing Premier League spell

With Leicester’s financial issues, Micky had to rely on loans and free transfers to bring players in ahead of their top-flight return. He did bring the likes of Les Ferdinand, Craig Hignett and Marcus Bent into the club but things were always going to be tough for the Foxes.

A second half collapse at Molineux in October saw them throw away a 3-0 lead to lose 4-3 to Wolverhampton Wanderers and it would be the story of Leicester’s campaign. They scored plenty of goals but conceded too many. Despite drawing at home with unbeaten Arsenal, winning 1-0 away at Birmingham and 3-0 at Manchester City, Leicester’s prospects of avoiding relegation always looked grim.

In March 2004, the club made the headlines for the wrong reasons when nine players were arrested for various offences related to an alleged sexual assault on three German tourists in La Manga. Three players; Keith Gillespie, Paul Dickov and Frank Sinclair were all charged but all allegations were later proved to be false. Adams even offered his resignation over the unsavoury incident but this was rejected by the Leicester board.

In his autobiography ‘Micky Adams, My Life in Football’ published in 2017, he admitted: “There is no doubt in my mind that it had an adverse effect on my career. Even though the players did not suffer in the same way, they had other issues that were never brought to light.”

Leicester were relegated in early May after a 2-2 draw with Charlton Athletic and after a poor start to the 2004-2005 campaign back in the Championship, Micky quit the club despite the board again attempting to change his mind. This time though, they had to accept his decision.

Since then, Adams has managed several clubs in the Football League, including Sheffield United, Coventry City, Port Vale and a second spell at Brighton. He ended his football management career in 2015 with Irish side Sligo Rovers.

Since then, he has his own football consultancy business, which has led to him lecturing on the Wales FA pro-licence course and does some part-time coaching for an Under-18 side close to his home in Leicestershire.

Premier League Files: Fernandinho

Premier League Career: Manchester City (2013-PRESENT)

One of the important cogs in the Manchester City line-up, Fernandinho has become an almost indispensable figure of Pep Guardiola’s line-up. He already has one Premier League title winners’ medal to his name and barring a freakish set of circumstances, will collect a second English title in 2018.

Fernandinho started his professional career with Brazilian club side Atletico Paranaense in 2002, before moving to Ukraine to play for all-conquering Shakhtar Donetsk. He spent eight seasons in Donetsk, winning six league championships, four domestic cups and the UEFA Cup in 2009. Although he is known as a defensively-minded player, he played further forward with Shakhtar and scored 11 league goals during the 2007-2008 campaign. His performances won him the club’s Player of the Year award. His UEFA Cup victory was the last version under this name before it was rebranded the UEFA Europa League for 2009-2010.

He achieved everything he could in Ukraine and it was time for a new challenge in June 2013. Manchester City paid Shakhtar Donetsk £34 million to make the Brazilian their first signing of the 2013-2014 summer transfer window. It was the first transaction carried out by their new boss, Manuel Pellegrini.

He made his debut on the opening weekend of the season and showed his importance to the team with a man of the match display against Arsenal in December 2013. He completely took command of the midfield battle and scored his first two Citizens goals in an impressive 6-3 victory for City. Another goal followed on New Years’ Day in the 3-2 win at Swansea. In total, he played 33 Premier League matches and won both the title and the League Cup in a wonderful first season on these shores.

After an excellent debut campaign in City colours, Fernandinho struggled to repeat these performances in 2014-2015 as the club made little challenge to Chelsea as they succeeded the Eastlands side as Premier League champions. Fernandinho’s response was to score a belting goal against the Blues in City’s resounding 3-0 success against Chelsea in August 2015. He followed this effort up with another goal in their next home match against Watford. A second League Cup victory on penalties against Liverpool FC soothed the pain of another league season that faded into obscurity as City finished a distant fourth to surprise champions Leicester City.

Pellegrini left at the end of the 2015-2016 campaign and was replaced by Guardiola. Immediately, the Spaniard indicated just how important Fernandinho was to his plans. He said: “If a team has three Fernandinhos, they would be champions. We have one, but he is fast, he is intelligent, he is strong in the air, he can play several positions.”

However, his disciplinary came into question with three red cards in quick succession. First, he was dismissed in the UEFA Champions League away at Borussia Mönchengladbach. Less than two weeks later, he lost his temper in the late scuffle at home to Chelsea. Slapped by Cesc Fabregas, he then proceeded to shove the Spaniard over the advertising hoardings and into the crowd. He had to be ushered down the tunnel by security guards such was his rage. On 2nd January, he saw red again for a reckless challenge at home to Burnley. It prompted Guardiola to defend his player when he was involved in a tense exchange with BBC journalist Damien Johnson.

In 2017-2018, Fernandinho has scored in victories over Stoke City and in both matches against West Bromwich Albion as Manchester City seem set to regain the Premier League title in convincing fashion. His ability to play in full-back positions when required have also made him a popular figure with the City fans. In January 2018, this was underlined when he signed a two-year contract extension. He has also won 40 caps for Brazil and is likely to be the axis behind their attempts to win the World Cup this summer in Russia.

Referees in the Middle: Graham Barber

Premier League Career: 1996-2004

First Premier League Match: Nottingham Forest 1-4 Sunderland (21 August 1996)

Final Premier League Match: Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Fulham (15 May 2004)

One of the most familiar referees in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Graham Barber took charge of 169 Premier League matches during his excellent top-flight career. He showed no messing when it came to getting out his notebook, dishing out 624 yellow cards during his Premier League spell. That’s an average of nearly four yellow cards per match.

Barber’s first appointment to a Premier League came in August 1996 as Sunderland ran riot at The City Ground, beating Nottingham Forest 4-1 to record their first Premier League victory. His first red card was handed out to the Arsenal skipper Tony Adams for bringing down Newcastle’s Alan Shearer in a goalscoring opportunity position during a match in November 1996.

Among his other red card victims over the years were Nicky Butt in a 3-0 defeat for Manchester United at Highbury in September 1998. He also sent off Andy Cole in a Red Devils’ 3-2 victory at Anfield in September 1999 and Gareth Barry for foul and abusive language on the opening weekend of the 2003-2004 season when Portsmouth saw off Aston Villa 2-1.

Graham’s professionalism was rarely called into question. His biggest error of judgement came in a Premier League game between Sunderland and Liverpool FC in February 2001. Sunderland’s Stanislav Varga took out Liverpool FC midfielder Gary McAllister as the veteran bared down on-goal. Whilst Barber gave the spot-kick which was duly converted, he failed to send Varga off in the mayhem that followed his decision. The FA gave him a severe reprimand for failing to follow the letter of the law.

Based in Tring in Hertfordshire, he was close pals with Graham Poll and like his namesake, was privileged to take charge of some showpiece occasions. He controlled the 1999 Charity Shield which Arsenal won against Manchester United and the Gunners’ FA Cup final victory over Southampton four years later.

He also took charge of the 2002 Division One play-off final in Cardiff when Birmingham City defeated Norwich City on penalties and the 2003 UEFA Super Cup Final which saw Carlo Ancelotti’s AC Milan beat FC Porto, managed by a certain Jose Mourinho.

Two years before the standard FA retirement age, Barber decided to retire at the end of the 2003-2004 campaign. His final match was on the last day of that Premier League season as Fulham achieved a 2-0 away victory at Bolton Wanderers.

He moved to Spain soon after his retirement with his family and is now the CEO of Europa Networks.

Referees in the Middle: Andre Marriner

Premier League Career: 2004-PRESENT

First Premier League Match: Charlton Athletic 4-0 Norwich City (13 November 2004)

Andre Marriner has proven time and again that he is a solid referee who often produces consistently strong performances. Arsenal fans though might not agree with this viewpoint!

Based in the West Midlands, he began refereeing in 1992 by being in the right place when a referee who was meant to be covering a match in his local area failed to show! Marriner was appointed to the Football League list of officials in 2003 and just over a year later, made his Premier League debut in the middle when Charlton Athletic defeated Norwich City 4-0 in November 2004.

Marriner’s early progression was impressive. He was promoted to the Select Group of Referees in 2005 and three years later, he was invited by FIFA to take charge of international matches. Three major finals have come his way within the last decade. First, he took charge of the 2010 Championship play-off final which saw Blackpool edge out Cardiff City 3-2. Marriner was widely praised for his performance in this match which concluded without a single yellow or red card being shown.

Next up was the biggest honour for an English referee – the FA Cup final. It was Marriner’s turn in 2013, sending off Manchester City’s Pablo Zabaleta for two bookable offences moments before Ben Watson’s stoppage-time header won the cup for Wigan Athletic. In 2017, he was the chosen appointment for the EFL Cup final, won by Manchester United against Southampton although the Saints were denied a goal by a dodgy offside call in the first half.

As of December 2017, Marriner has officiated 266 matches in the Premier League, producing 870 yellow and 50 red cards. The first dismissal was dished out to Manchester City’s Stephen Jordan in a 1-0 defeat away at Everton in February 2006.

As mentioned earlier, Arsenal fans must always get the shivers when they see Marriner’s name against one of their fixtures. History can sometimes dictate preferred referees for supporters and Marriner wouldn’t be very high on that list with Gunners’ fans. First, in a fixture between the Londoners and Liverpool FC in April 2011, he awarded the latest spot-kick in Premier League history when Emmanuel Eboue clumsily bundled down Lucas in the penalty area. Dirk Kuyt converted the penalty in the 102nd minute which still stands today as the league’s latest-ever goal. That earned a 1-1 draw for Liverpool, who had conceded a penalty of their own only moments earlier that had been converted by Robin van Persie. It also drew an angry exchange between the managers, with Arsene Wenger refusing to shake hands with Kenny Dalglish.

Three years later, Arsenal were at the centre of an unbelievable case of mistaken identity in Wenger’s 1000th game in charge of the club. They were already trailing Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge when Eden Hazard’s shot was handled on the goal-line. A penalty was correctly awarded and believing Hazard’s strike was heading in, which was debatable, he sent off the culprit which in his eyes was Kieran Gibbs. However, he had just dismissed the wrong player! The guilty party was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who even insisted to Marriner it was he who committed the offence and should go for an early shower. Despite this, it was Gibbs who would walk down the tunnel through no fault of his own.

A statement was later released through the PGMOL: “Whilst this was a difficult decision, Andre is disappointed that he failed to identify the correct player. He expressed his disappointment to Arsenal when he was made aware of the issue.”

Despite this harrowing mistake, Andre Marriner remains one of the more reliable refs in the top-flight and is often considered to be strong enough to take charge of some of the most intense fixtures in the Premier League.

Premier League Files: Richard Dunne

Premier League Career: Everton (1997-2000), Manchester City (2000-2001, 2002-2009), Aston Villa (2009-2013), Queens Park Rangers (2014-2015)

Richard Dunne is a Premier League veteran, having featured in the top-flight 431 times for the likes of Everton, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers. His most successful time was in the colours of Manchester City, featuring nearly 300 times for the club, departing just before the club’s rich success under the Abu Dhabi United Group.

Dunne began his Premier League journey at Everton, signing schoolboy forms in 1995 and been given his debut at this level by Joe Royle at the age of just 17. Being a youngster meant mischief was bound to follow and he was disciplined by the club for two separate off-field incidents during Walter Smith’s reign. In 1999, it looked like he was going to join Wimbledon but the move fell through at the last minute and the man from Dublin stuck it out at Goodison Park into the millennium.

After 60 appearances for the Merseysiders, a move for Richard was probably best for all parties. Back in the top-flight after back-to-back promotions, Manchester City was the perfect destination where the man who had given him his Premier League debut, Joe Royle, was now in the dugout at Maine Road. £3.5 million was paid to Everton and he would start a nine-year stint at Eastlands.

Relegation was a setback in 2001 but the Irish international stuck with the club under Kevin Keegan’s tenure and helped the club back into the Premier League at the first attempt. Like at Everton, some indiscretions off-the-field led to trouble and in 2003, he was even suspended by the club for these incidents. It was at this stage that saw Dunne turnaround his career which was in danger of completely petering out. He went on a serious fitness regime programme, won back his place in both his club and country set-ups and started to set an example for the youngsters in the side. He learned from his bad experiences and therefore, that made him a decent person for the youth stars at City to listen to.

His best spell at the club came before the huge money came into the place. Richard won the Manchester City Player of the Year award for four successive seasons; becoming the first player in the club’s history to achieve this. With Sylvain Distin on the verge of leaving for Portsmouth in 2006, Stuart Pearce handed Dunne the captain’s armband. It was a huge honour that he would hold for three seasons. In January 2007, his teammate Micah Richards gave him high praise, saying: “Ever since I’ve come to this club Richard has just been quality. I play with him week in, week out and I think he’s one of the best players I’ve played with. I’ve played with John Terry and Rio Ferdinand in the England squad but Richard is right up there with them.”

He did set some unwanted history in January 2009. A red card against Wigan Athletic was his eighth Premier League dismissal, equalling a record jointly-held by Duncan Ferguson and Patrick Vieira. When Kolo Toure and Joleon Lescott arrived at the Etihad Stadium in the summer of 2009, he knew his time was coming to an end at the club. Aston Villa snapped him up in the closing days of that summer window for a fee of £5 million.

In October 2009, Villa played City at Villa Park and the teams shared the points in a 1-1 draw. Dunne scored the opening goal that night and was applauded by his former supporters for not celebrating the goal; a trait that has become fairly common in recent times across the game. He had a great first season in the Midlands. Dunne scored one of the goals in a victory over eventual champions Chelsea and was voted into the PFA Team of the Year.

That would be the peak of his career. Injuries and a loss of form followed and he was released by Villa in 2013. After one more Premier League campaign which ended with relegation in 2015 at Queens Park Rangers, Richard hung up his boots and he now does some occasional punditry work for BT Sport whilst spending his time living in the streets of Monte Carlo with his wife and two children.

Richard Dunne was a committed, fierce and combative defender who was unlucky to be playing for Manchester City in a period when they were still widely considered as the sleeping giants of English football.