1996/97 Premier League Champions: Manchester United
Runners-up: Newcastle United
Champions League places: Manchester United, Newcastle United
UEFA Cup places: Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Leicester City (League Cup)
Cup Winners Cup places: Chelsea
Promoted (from 1995/96): Sunderland, Derby County, Leicester City
Relegated: Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest
Leading Scorer: Alan Shearer (Newcastle United) 25 goals
Premier League Table 1996 – 1997
|14||West Ham United||38||10||12||16||39||48||-9||42|
1996/97 Season Review
Since its formation in 1992, the FA Premier League has played five seasons. Newcastle United, Arsenal, and Liverpool contested most of the season with Manchester United. After Liverpool and Newcastle failed to win their penultimate games, Manchester United eventually won the title.
With 75 points, Manchester United finished on top of the 1996/97 Premier League table. Since the 3-1-0 points system was introduced in 1981–82, it was the lowest points total for a Premier League champion.
Having missed out on the title to Manchester United in the previous season, Newcastle United shelled out a British record of £15 million pounds on Blackburn Rovers’ England striker Alan Shearer.
The Magpies were handsomely rewarded for their outlay, with Shearer scoring 25 times in the league to finish as top scorer, ahead of Arsenal’s Ian Wright.
Italian international Gianfranco Zola moved from Parma to Chelsea in the close season and would have a huge impact, helping the club to an FA Cup triumph, and winning the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year award.
Goal Of The Premiership
The season started spectacularly as David Beckham scored from the halfway line in Manchester United’s 3-0 win at Wimbledon on an opening day.
After the game, Neil Sullivan, the Wimbledon goalkeeper, said, “As soon as he brought his foot back, I thought: uh-oh, he’s going to try to do me. I thought I had it covered until the last ten yards. My only consolation is that at least I’ll be on telly every week.”
Beckham won the Professional Football Association Young Player of the Year award later that season, and in 2003 his effort was voted Premier League Goal of the Decade.
Newcastle United went top of the league in November after a stunning 5-0 win over Manchester United. This was the Red Devils’ biggest defeat for 12 years, with the pick of the goals a sublime chip from Newcastle’s Belgian international Philippe Albert.
Unfortunately, things were to get worse for United in the next match when they were humbled 6-3 by Southamption at The Dell.
Could Liverpool Hold On?
Despite Liverpool going top in December after Robbie Fowler scored four in a 5-1 thrashing of Middlesbrough, United’s form picked up. By the end of January, they were in the first place and remained there until the end of the season. They won the title without kicking a ball as closest rivals, Liverpool lost to Wimbledon, and Newcastle could only draw 0-0 with West Ham on 6th May.
There was controversy at the other end of the table as Middlesbrough was relegated on the season’s final day. Were they not for a three-point deduction from the Football Association for canceling a match against Blackburn in December, they would have finished outside the relegation places.
Middlesbrough blamed the decision on the absence of 23 players through illness or injury. The club had spent millions on players such as Emerson Moises, Branco, Gianluca Festa, and Fabrizio Ravanelli, with the latter scoring 31 goals in all competitions.
Nottingham Forest and Sunderland joined Boro at the bottom of the 1996/97 Premier League table and were relegated to the First Division.
Manchester United striker Eric Cantona retired from the game, playing a significant role in the club’s Premier League dominance.
1996/97 Cup Results
1996/97 FA Cup Winners: Chelsea [Final – Chelsea 2 v 0 Middlesbrough]
1996/97 League Cup Winners: Leicester City [Final – Leicester City 1 v 1 Middlesbrough], [Replay – Leicester City 1 v 0 Middlesbrough]
1996/97 Champions League Winners: Borussia Dortmund [Final – Borussia Dortmund 3 v 1 Juventus]
1996/97UEFA Cup Winners: Barcelona [Final – Barcelona 1 v 0 Paris Saint-Germain]
1996/97 Managerial Changes
Arsenal: Bruce Rioch out, Arsene Wenger in
Blackburn: Ray Harford out, Tony Parkes in
Chelsea: Glenn Hoddle out, Ruud Gullit in
Coventry City: Ron Atkinson out, Gordon Strachan in
Everton: Joe Royle out, Dave Watson in
Leeds United: Howard Wilkinson out, George Graham in
Newcastle: Kevin Keegan out, Kenny Dalglish in
Nottingham Forest: Frank Clark out, Stuart Pearce in, Stuart Pearce out, Dave Bassett in
Southampton: David Merrington out, Graeme Souness in
Rhett is an Australian-born, globe trotter who is a UEFA ‘A’ Licence Soccer Coach. With his family, he has traveled and coached soccer in more than 30 countries, while attending World Cups, European Championships, and some of the biggest local derbies in the world!