1st Premier League title
3rd English title
|Champions League||Blackburn Rovers|
|Cup Winners' Cup||Everton|
|UEFA Cup||Leeds United
|Top goalscorer||Alan Shearer (34)|
This article describes the FA Premier League 1994-95 season.
In January 1995, Manchester United's 28-year-old French striker Eric Cantona (then holder of the PFA Players' Player of the Year award) assaulted a Crystal Palace fan in his team's 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park. Cantona was banned from football for eight months, fined £20,000 and sentenced to 14 days in prison. The prison sentence was later reduced to 120 hours community service on appeal.
Chelsea midfielder Dennis Wise was convicted of criminal damage and assault, relating to a fight with a taxi driver in London. He was given a three-month prison sentence but the conviction and prison sentence were quickly overturned on appeal.
Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson admitted in November 1994 that he was an alcoholic and was also addicted to cocaine and gambling. He underwent a three-month drug rehabilitation programme before being allowed to resume his playing career.
Crystal Palace striker Chris Armstrong failed a drugs test in February 1995 but admitted that he had done wrong and returned to action after just four weeks undergoing rehabilitation. Armstrong was Palace's leading goalscorer in 1994-95, helping them reach the semi finals of both domestic cup competitions, but was unable to prevent them from being relegated back to the First Division just one season after winning promotion.
Arsenal manager George Graham was sacked in February 1995 after nearly nine years in charge, when it was revealed that he had accepted an illegal payment of £425,000 from Norwegian agent Rune Hauge relating to the purchases of Norwegian and Danish players Pal Lydersen and John Jensen three years earlier. Graham was later banned from football for one year by the FA.
Just before the start of the 1994-95 season, the English transfer record was broken when Blackburn Rovers paid £5 million for 21-year-old Norwich City striker Chris Sutton. But that record was broken again in January when Manchester United paid £6 million for Newcastle United's Andy Cole, in a deal which also saw £1 million-rated Keith Gillespie move to Newcastle. Other significant transfers before and during the 1994-95 season included: Vinny Samways (Tottenham to Everton, £2 million), David Rocastle (Manchester City to Chelsea, £1.25 million), Jürgen Klinsmann (Monaco to Tottenham, £2 million), John Scales (Wimbledon to Liverpool, £3 million) and Paul Kitson (Derby County to Newcastle United, £2.2 million).
The title race was won by Blackburn Rovers, whose last title success was in 1914. Kenny Dalglish's side secured the championship on the last day of the season despite losing 2-1 at his former club Liverpool, as Manchester United could only manage a 1-1 draw at West Ham. This meant that Blackburn Rovers qualified for the European Champions Cup for the first time in their history, while Manchester United finished second earning a UEFA Cup place. Also qualifying for the UEFA Cup were Nottingham Forest (who finished third in their first season back in the Premiership), Liverpool (who finished fourth and won their fifth League Cup in the club's first full season following the appointment of Roy Evans) and fifth placed Leeds United.
1994-95 was the last season of the 22-club Premiership. The FA had decided to decrease the division to 20 clubs. To accommodate the redistribution of clubs across the Football League and Premiership, four teams were relegated from the Premiership and two promoted from Division One, alongside four relegations from Division One and two promotions from Division Two.
The bottom place in the 1994-95 final Premiership table was occupied by Ipswich Town, who conceded 92 goals and won just seven games. Second from bottom came Leicester City, who won just six Premiership games in their first top division season for eight years. Third from bottom was Norwich City, who won just one of their final 20 games after spending the first half of the season near the top of the table. The final relegation place went to Crystal Palace, who went down on the final day. They lost 3-2 to Newcastle on the final day of the season, and manager Alan Smith was sacked within a week of the defeat.
|1||Blackburn Rovers||42||27||8||7||80||39||+41||89||UEFA Champions League 1995–96 Group stage|
|2||Manchester United||42||26||10||6||77||28||+49||88||UEFA Cup 1995–96 First round|
|8||Queens Park Rangers||42||17||9||16||61||59||+2||60|
|14||West Ham United||42||13||11||18||44||48||-4||50|
|15||Everton||42||11||17||14||44||51||-7||50||UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 1995–96 First round1|
|19||Crystal Palace||42||11||12||19||34||49||-15||45||Relegated to Football League First Division 1995–96|
Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points
1 Everton qualified for the Cup Winners' Cup as FA Cup winners
P = Games Played; W = Games Won; D = Games Drawn; L = Games Lost; F = Goals For; A = Goals Against; Pts = Points
|Premier League 1994-95 Winners|
|Average Goals per game:||2.58|
The sacking of long-serving and highly successful manager George Graham following a bungs scandal saw Arsenal endure their most frustrating season in 10 years. They finished 12th in the Premiership - below unfancied London rivals Queens Park Rangers and Wimbledon - and also had to endure the loss of Paul Merson for three months while he underwent treatment to combat drug and gambling addictions.
Graham's assistant Stewart Houston took over as manager until the end of the season, and gave the fans something to hope for as the team reached the European Cup Winners' Cup final for the second year in succession. With 120 minutes showing on the clock in Paris, a penalty shoot-out was looking certain as Arsenal were drawing 1-1 with Real Zaragoza. But a last minute goal by former Tottenham player Nayim from 40 yards out saw the Gunners lose defence of the trophy and it went to the Spaniards instead.
The close season saw Bruce Rioch (formerly of Bolton Wanderers) installed as the club's new manager. Rioch's arrival coincided with the departure of long-serving players Paul Davis and Alan Smith, with Davis winding down his career at lowly Brentford and Smith hanging up his boots due to injury. Kevin Campbell moved to Nottingham Forest, while Stefan Schwarz moved to Fiorentina. Rioch spent heavily by (briefly) breaking the English transfer record in a £7.5million swoop for Dennis Bergkamp of Inter Milan, as well as paying almost £5million for England captain David Platt from Sampdoria. These expensive acquisitions gave Arsenal fans hope of their team re-establishing themselves as title contenders.
Two seasons earlier, Aston Villa narrowly missed out on the league title. The season before, they dipped to 10th place in the league but still had success as Coca-Cola Cup winners. But the decline continued into 1994-95 and Ron Atkinson paid for this with his job in November. Within days, former Villa favourite Brian Little was back at the club as Atkinson's successor, and managed to keep Villa clear of the drop.
Before the season was over, a new era was already in the making at Villa Park. A number of players now past their best were off-loaded to new clubs; these included Ray Houghton, Garry Parker, Kevin Richardson and Earl Barrett. The close season saw more players from the Atkinson era pass through the Villa Park exit door; Shaun Teale, Dalian Atkinson, Dean Saunders and John Fashanu. Little brought in younger players like Mark Draper, Ian Taylor, Savo Milosevic, Nii Lamptey, Carl Tiler, Gary Charles and Alan Wright, to give some much-needed strength to a side of fading stars as well as giving such much-needed hope to fans of a club which had been rescued from the threat of a rapid decline.
The title "champions of England" returned to Blackburn Rovers after 81 years, thanks to the seemingly limitless funds provided by owner Jack Walker, the managerial know-how of Kenny Dalglish, and the prolific striker partnership of Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton. It was a close-run race, although Blackburn were top of the league for most of the season their lead was threatened right up to the final day by Manchester United. In fact, the title would have gone to Old Trafford for the third year running had Alex Ferguson's men been able to score a winner against West Ham on the final day of the season. In the end, however, United's failure to beat the East Londoners meant that Blackburn were champions despite losing 2-1 to Dalglish's old club Liverpool.
When Jack Walker took over as owner in 1991, Blackburn were a struggling side in the old Second Division, who had been outside the top flight since 1966 and had not won a major trophy since 1928. They were playing within the antiquated surroundings of Ewood Park, with three of their four stands dating from before the First World War.
Four years on, they had broken the domestic transfer fee record twice (as well as buying England's first £2 million goalkeeper, Tim Flowers), were playing at an extensively rebuilt stadium capable of holding over 30,000 seated spectators, and boasted one of the finest squads in Europe.
It was another unsatisfying season for Chelsea Football club, who failed to make much of an impact in the league (though their 11th place finish was a 3-place improvement on the previous season's standing) but once again enjoyed a memorable cup run. They entered the Cup Winners' Cup after a 23-year exile from European competitions, and reached the semi-finals where they went out to a single Real Zaragoza goal - ending their hopes of an all-English final with Arsenal.
The summer of 1995 saw manager Glenn Hoddle bring in two of the most famous names in world soccer - Ruud Gullit and Mark Hughes. He also terminated the contract of misfit striker Robert Fleck as well as deciding to end his own playing career. The only other significant change to the squad was the sale of out-of-favour midfielder David Hopkin to Crystal Palace.
After last season's solid 11th place finish, Coventry City broke their transfer record in September by paying Manchester United £2million for striker Dion Dublin. But the investment was not enough to keep Coventry clear of the drop zone, and manager Phil Neal paid for these failings when he was sacked in February.
The appointment of Ron Atkinson as manager gave Coventry fans hope for something more than Premiership survival. Atkinson, a hugely successful manager with West Bromwich Albion, Manchester United, Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa, quickly brought in 37-year-old Leeds United midfielder Gordon Strachan as his assistant, and Premiership survival was comfortably achieved with a 16th place finish.
At the end of the season, Atkinson off-loaded several out-of-favour players including Steven Pressley, Mick Quinn, Cobi Jones, Mike Marsh and Sean Flynn. He brought in Paul Telfer and John Salako to give Sky Blues fans hope that their team would soon be challenging for honours.
Crystal Palace returned to the Premiership a year after leaving it, and over the next few months they would experience one of the most unusual seasons in their history. They were the division's lowest scoring team with just 34 goals, but reached the semi-finals of both cup competitions, they also finished fourth from bottom in the Premiership, which - due to the streamlining of the division to 20 clubs - cost them their top flight status, thus giving them the distinction of finishing in the last four of all competitions they'd entered that year. Manager Alan Smith was sacked just days afterwards, with Steve Coppell returning to the manager's seat two years after handing the reins over to his former assistant Smith.
The aftermath of Palace's relegation saw the sale of numerous players including Richard Shaw, John Salako, Chris Armstrong, Andy Preece, Darren Patterson and Gareth Southgate. A barely recognisable Palace squad would kick off the Endsleigh League Division One campaign with one of the youngest-ever squads to be faced with a challenge for promotion to the Premiership.
After the previous season's "houdini" escape act which preserved Everton's top flight status, manager Mike Walker was expected to take the club forward and challenge for honours. But a failure to win any of their first 12 Premiership games saw the board run out of patience with Walker and terminated his contract after less than a year at the helm. Former player Joe Royle was named as Walker's successor, and quickly set about reshaping a squad of broken men.
As the season progressed, Everton slowly improved and by April their survival was effectively confirmed. They finished a secure 15th, but the biggest news of May was an FA Cup final appearance. The opposition were Premiership runners-up Manchester United, who were most people's favourites to win. But a goal from Everton's Paul Rideout, and a succession of thrilling saves by goalkeeper Neville Southall, gave Everton their first major trophy for eight years and their first European campaign of the post-Heysel era.
Royle's arrival at Everton also saw the arrival of powerful Scottish striker Duncan Ferguson, with Earl Barrett and Daniel Amokachi soon arriving. On their way out were Brett Angell, Gary Rowett and Ian Snodin.
Everton fans were given more hope of sustained success after the season was over, when it was announced that the club had agreed to sign Ukrainian winger Andrei Kanchelskis from Manchester United for a club record fee of £5million.
Ipswich Town conceded 92 Premiership goals and recorded just 7 wins all season as one of the worst seasons in their history saw them return to the second tier of the league after three seasons in the top flight.
Manager John Lyall reverted back to manager after being Director of Football for the previous season but left in December with relegation already looking more than likely, and former player George Burley was soon back at the club as manager. But the transition did little to alter Ipswich's fortunes and a 9–0 humiliation at the hands of Manchester United in early March effectively crushed any remaining hopes of survival.
With an ageing squad, Burley was given little option but to resort to his young reserves in hope of rebuilding his side ready to push for a Premiership comeback.
Leeds United were a solid but unremarkable side for much of the 1994-95 season, but the January signing of Ghanaian striker Tony Yeboah breathed new life into a dull-but-dependale side and they coasted to fifth place in the final table to earn a much-deserved UEFA Cup place.
Manager Howard Wilkinson knew that there were other parts of the Leeds set-up which needed reinforcements as well as the attack, and he used the 1995 close season to bring in experienced defenders Richard Jobson and Paul Beesley. Wilkinson was also given hope by the promise of numerous up-and-coming young players including Andy Gray, Harry Kewell and Noel Whelan. The close season also saw plans unveiled for upgrading an already-impressive Elland Road into a 65,000-seat "Wembley of the North", though it seemed very doubtful whether the ambitious plans would ever be realised.
Leicester City finally made it back to the top flight after a seven-year exile and two successive Wembley playoff final defeats. Even with one of the country's most sought-after young managers in Brian Little, they were still tipped to go straight back down to the Endsleigh League. By the time manager Brian Little moved to Aston Villa in November, the Foxes looked doomed, and Little's successor Mark McGhee was unable to prove the pundits wrong. Leicester were never out of the bottom two after November and were relegated with just 6 wins and only Ipswich Town below them. The sale of key player Mark Draper at least gave the club a cash windfall to reduce the financial impact of relegation.
Liverpool got their act together in 1994-95 after two dismal seasons, and the hard work of manager Roy Evans quickly paid off with triumph in the League Cup - a 2-1 Wembley win over Bolton Wanderers gave them their record fifth success in the competition and took their total of major trophies to 34. With promising midfielder Steve McManaman earning plaudits in a new playmaker role and young striker Robbie Fowler emerging, the side looked to a new era. Fowler excelled in front of goal and was voted PFA Young Player of the Year, while vintage striker Ian Rush showed little sign of his advancing years thanks to a continued supply of goals. Young midfielders like Jamie Redknapp also excelled, as did new defenders Rob Jones, Phil Babb and John Scales.
The close season saw Liverpool break the national transfer record with an £8.4million swoop for Nottingham Forest striker Stan Collymore, an investment which saw Liverpool rated as serious title contenders for the first time in several years.
Perhaps surprisingly, the close season ended with the Liverpool payroll still consisting of out-of-favour players like Nigel Clough and Paul Stewart, who were well behind the pecking order at Anfield but could easily have salvaged something from the rest of their careers elsewhere.
Manchester City endured another torrid season which saw them continue to fall well short of the standards of their city rivals. Their goalscoring rate improving dramatically from 36 to 53, but they slipped one place into 17th - though still enough to achieve survival. But it was too late to save manager Brian Horton's job and he was sacked to make way for Alan Ball of Southampton.
Key striker Niall Quinn recovered from a serious knee injury but failed to make an impact on City's dismal showing, though new German striker Uwe Rosler was among the Premiership's top target men with 15 league goals. His strike partner Paul Walsh was also a frequent goalscorer, with 12 Premiership strikes.
One of the few things that gave City fans something to look forward to was the emergence of exciting young players like Garry Flitcroft, Richard Edghill and Steve Lomas. The close season arrival of Georgian midfielder Georgi Kinkladze was another exciting prospect which suggested that the dark clouds that had recently hung over Maine Road might not have cast too lengthy a shadow.
1994-95 was one of the most dramatic, headline-filling seasons in the history of one of the world's most famous football clubs, but it ended without a major trophy for Manchester United.
The season began with just one major close-season signing (defender David May from Blackburn), but manager Alex Ferguson was under increasing pressure to delve into the transfer market as Christmas approached, with Blackburn now top of the Premiership and United lacking some of the fire power that had brought them two successive league titles.
The answer to this mini-crisis was the January acquisition of Andy Cole from Newcastle United for an English record fee valued at £7million (£6million cash plus £1million-rated Keith Gillespie in part-exchange). Cole started to repay his fee by scoring 12 goals in the final 18 Premiership games of the season (including 5 in a record-breaking 9-0 win over Ipswich) but United were in the headlines once again before January was out, when iconic Frenchman Eric Cantona kicked a Crystal Palace supporter after being taunted by the crowd following his dismissal in a game at Selhurst Park. Cantona was eventually banned from football for 8 months as well as receiving fines totalling £30,000.
Unfortunately for United, the title slipped away on the final day of the season when they just couldn't get the better of a rock solid West Ham side who held them to a 1-1 draw at Upton Park. A win would have given them their third successive title, as table-topping Blackburn lost their final game of the season at Liverpool. There was more frustration a week later in the FA Cup final, when they lost 1-0 to a resurgent Everton side.
And as United fans thought their share of misery was over, there was controversy over the close season as the sales of Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis were announced for a combined total of £14million. The fans' frustration was compounded when the new season approaching without a major signing, and increasing doubt surrounded the future of Eric Cantona; he was linked with a move to join Paul Ince at Inter Milan.
Newcastle United made the best start to any top division season in their history, winning their first six games to go top. By Christmas, they were no longer title favourites but still looked certain of a UEFA Cup place. But things failed to improve in the new year, and the sale of Andy Cole to Manchester United seemed to accelerate their fall from grace. A sixth place finish in the final table meant that they just missed out on another European campaign, but they were given hope of a fresh chase for honours next time round thanks to the close season signings of David Ginola and Les Ferdinand.
The 1994-95 season also saw the arrival of Marc Hottiger, Philippe Albert, Paul Kitson and Keith Gillespie, as well as the late and close season departures of Barry Venison, Alex Mathie, Mike Jeffrey and Paul Bracewell.
Despite losing striker Chris Sutton to Blackburn before the start of the season in England's first £5million transfer, Norwich made a strong start to the season and seemed capable of reproducing their impressive form of the two previous seasons. By Christmas, they stood seventh in the table and looked good bets for a UEFA Cup place.
But then it all went wrong, after an injury to first-choice goalkeeper Bryan Gunn. The Canaries went into a sudden freefall, won only one of their final 20 league games and plunged into 20th place and relegation - ending their nine-year tenure in the top flight just two years after they had narrowly missed out on the league title.
Just weeks before the end of the season, manager John Deehan handed in his notice and vacated the manager's seat to make way for 36-year-old player-coach Gary Megson. Megson in turn quit his job after failing save Norwich from the drop, and the man selected by chairman Robert Chase to revert Norwich's declining fortunes was Martin O'Neill.
After achieving promotion back to the Premiership at the first attempt, Nottingham Forest continued to succeed in life after Brian Clough as new manager Frank Clark guided them to an impressive third place finish and UEFA Cup qualification - to give them their first European campaign of the post-Heysel era.
Striker Stan Collymore was on target 22 times in the league and speculation that he would be on his way to another club proved correct at the end of the season when he sold to Liverpool for a national record fee of £8.4million. The failure of Clark to buy a proven replacement cast significant doubt over whether Forest could mount a serious challenge for honours in the post-Collymore era.
When manager Gerry Francis moved across London to take charge of Tottenham in November, there was much speculation as to who would replace him at Loftus Road. That question was answered within days when the club's board announced that Ray Wilkins, 38, had been appointed as player-manager - just months after he had left the club to become player-coach at Crystal Palace.
Wilkins kept QPR in contention for a UEFA Cup place, and in the end they finished eighth - just three places short of the promised land. This could easily have been achieved had it not been for a nine-match winless run during the season - longer than any winless run in the Premier League that season. He also took them to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, where they bowed out to Manchester United.
Prolific goalscorer Les Ferdinand was, perhaps inevitably, sold in the summer - subject of a £6million move to Newcastle United. Wilkins did not delve into the club's funds to buy a replacement, preferring to make the most of young talent like Danny Dichio and Kevin Gallen.
Sheffield Wednesday were among the pre-season favourites for a UEFA Cup places, having finished seventh in the first two Premiership seasons, finished third in 1992 and won the League Cup in 1991, with many fine players still on the club's payroll. But they were still without striker David Hirst for much of the season due to injury, and this played at least some part in the Owls enduring their worst league form since relegation in 1990.
Right up till early May, the Owls were in real danger of relegation and this was enough for the club's board, who wielded the axe on manager Trevor Francis after four years in charge. His successor was the former Luton and Tottenham manager David Pleat, who looked to the continent in hope of returning the Owls to their winning ways and brought in Belgian forward Marc Degryse.
Southampton finally got their act together after four seasons of battling relegation, and most importantly managed to hang on to Matthew Le Tissier. They never featured in the relegation battle, and finished in 10th place above some much more fancied teams including Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday.
Manager Alan Ball made some significant signings during the season - Neil Heaney from Arsenal, Gordon Watson from Sheffield Wednesday and Neil Shipperley from Chelsea - but then stunned the club at the end of the season by accepting the offer of the Manchester City manager's job. Long-serving coach David Merrington was named as his successor.
Tottenham began the season coming to terms with the heaviest punishment ever handed out to an English club. As punishment for financial irregularities committed under the club's previous owners during the 1980s, they were fined £600,000, deducted 12 league points and banned from the 1994-95 FA Cup. Manager Ossie Ardiles reacted defiantly by adopting an impressive new attacking formation, while chairman Alan Sugar challenged his club's sanctions in court. The fine was later increased to £1.5million, but the points deduction and FA Cup ban were eventually revoked.
On the field, the new ultra-attacking style of football was not bringing as much success as Ardiles might have liked, and in November he paid for these shortcomings with his job, following a 3-0 defeat in the League Cup to Notts County. QPR manager Gerry Francis was named as his successor, and guided Spurs to seventh in the final table - their highest finish for five years. He also took them to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, where their Wembley dream was crushed by Everton who ran out 4-1 winners.
The close season saw 30-goal striker (and FWA Player of the Year) Jürgen Klinsmann return to his homeland in a £1.5million move to Bayern Munich, and in came Chris Armstrong from Crystal Palace as his replacement. At a club record fee of £4.5million, 24-year-old Armstrong was slammed as a "waste of money" by many supporters, who were sceptical of such a large sum of money being spent on a player who had scored just nine league goals (although his tally for 1994-95 reached 19 thanks to Palace's cup exploits), seen his old club relegated and failed a drugs test.
Before the season started, the West Ham board of directors heard speculation that assistant manager Harry Redknapp was about to be offered his old job as Bournemouth manager. They reacted by dismissing manager Billy Bonds and promoting Redknapp to the manager's seat. Redknapp then earned the instant admiration of the Upton Park faithful by signing Don Hutchison and re-signing striker Tony Cottee, who returned to the club after six years at Everton. Redknapp also strengthened the squad over the next months by bringing in Julian Dicks, Les Sealey and Stan Lazaridis.
The Hammers spent much of the season battling against relegation but a good run of form during the final month pulled them up to a secure 14th place finish.
Wimbledon failed to build upon their club-best finish of sixth place which had been achieved the previous season, but a ninth place finish was still an excellent showing for the only Premiership club without their own home, and also with the smallest resources and fan base at this level. Joe Kinnear's men maintained their reputation as one of the hardest Premiership sides to beat, and finished above many big-spending, well-supported clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea, Sheffield Wednesday and Everton.
Wimbledon's need to sell their biggest assets was highlighted in the close season when they sold full-back Warren Barton to Newcastle United for £4million - the most expensive defender signed by any British club. But many of their other key assets - Dean Holdsworth, Robbie Earle and Hans Segers included - were retained for the new season to give Dons fans hope of another season giving the big boys a run for their money. Early in the 1994-95 season, long-serving striker John Fashanu departed to Aston Villa for £1.35million, only to retire at the end of the campaign. In Fashanu's place, Wimbledon bought Efan Ekoku from Norwich City and he was the club's leading goalscorer with nine league goals.
|Alan Shearer||34||Blackburn Rovers|
|Les Ferdinand||24||Queens Park Rangers|
|Stan Collymore||22||Nottingham Forest|
|Andy Cole||21||Manchester United/Newcastle United|
|Jurgen Klinsmann||20||Tottenham Hotspur|
|Matt Le Tissier||19||Southampton|
|Teddy Sheringham||18||Tottenham Hotspur|
|Uwe Rosler||15||Manchester City|
|Dean Saunders||Aston Villa|
|Chris Sutton||Blackburn Rovers|