First Premier League Season
The 1992-93 top-flight season in England was the first ever Premier League campaign. 22 clubs broke away from the Football League to create an elite division, which was backed by a £305m deal by Sky. The new Premier League was now classed as the first and top division of English football, with the Football League now having three tiers instead of four. For many fans of the English game, especially those from outside the UK, the dawn of the Premier League is almost viewed as the beginning of English football. The pre-eminence of the PL is often overstated and such a view is wrong but there is no doubt that the changes brought about by its birth have had a huge impact on the game in England.
It was Manchester United that made history by becoming the first Premier League title winners, ending their long, long wait for a top flight title in the process. Leeds United were the reigning champions after winning the 1991-92 Football League First Division, though the Yorkshire side finished way down in 17th. Aston Villa ended in second, while Norwich City’s fine season saw them finish in third place and qualify for Europe. Nottingham Forest, Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace were the three relegated clubs in what was a fascinating and historic campaign.
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Man United Make History
Man United won the first ever Premier League, picking up their eighth English title to boot. The Red Devils dominated the early years of the new top flight in England, with Alex Ferguson eventually becoming the most successful manager, but this was their first championship for a hard to believe 26 years. They went on to finish a massive 10 points clear of Villa and 12 points above Norwich. The Canaries led the division for a large portion of the season but faded away in the latter weeks.
Ferguson’s boys actually started the campaign with back-to-back defeats to Sheffield United and Everton before drawing at home with Ipswich Town to take just one point from their opening three matches. However, they went on to win five in a row and draw five on the spin to go on a 10-game undefeated run. From late November to late January, the Red Devils then won eight and drew two of 10. They romped their way to the title in the final weeks of the campaign, winning each of their final seven fixtures. Overall, United won 24, drew 12 and lost six. No other side lost fewer than 10 times and United’s goal difference was 19 better than Villa’s and 14 better than the next best (Blackburn, who finished down in fourth).
Cup Double for Gunners
Arsenal had a disappointing Premier League campaign, finishing way down in 10th after picking up just 15 wins from 42 matches. The Gunners would go on to finish below the likes of Manchester City, Norwich and Blackburn Rovers as well as three points behind bitter rivals Tottenham. They were also the lowest scorers in the league with just 40, with bottom club Forest, who finished 16 points behind the north London outfit, managing 41.
However, they put their heart and soul into the cup competitions this term. In the 1993 League Cup final, George Graham’s side beat Sheffield Wednesday to lift the trophy at Wembley Stadium. A month later, the Londoners beat Wednesday again in the FA Cup final to pull off a remarkable cup double. Great times to be an Arsenal fan but two heart-breaking trips to Wembley for those following the Owls.
Rovers Snap Up Shearer
The start of the Premier League gave clubs spending power like never before. There were several big-money signings before the season even kicked off, but the transfer of a young and hirsute Alan Shearer from Southampton to Blackburn really caught the eye. 21-year-old Shearer moved to Ewood Park for a fee believed to be up to £3.6m, which was crazy money at the time.
Shearer, who was now a fully-fledged England international, had an excellent first season at Rovers. He scored 16 Premier League goals, with only four players netting more. A season-ending injury at Christmas cost Shearer the Golden Boot and possibly ended his side’s chances of mounting any sort of title run. In the end Rovers finished in fourth spot, missing out on Europe by just one point.
Clough Says Goodbye to Forest
The start of the Premier League was a new era for English football, but we had to say goodbye to one of England’s greatest managers, as Brian Clough announced his retirement after his beloved Nottingham Forest were relegated from the top tier. The Reds struggled to adapt to the new intensity of the Premier League and went down with a mere 40 points to their name.
Nottingham Forest lost over half of their league matches and picked up just 10 wins. However, in 18 stunning years as Forest manager, Clough guided Forest to a league title, two European Cups and four League Cups. He will always be remembered as one of England’s best and most charismatic managers and whilst he was in some ways a Marmite figure, he was hugely loved by many, especially in Nottingham and Derby where he had great success as a manager of relatively small clubs.
Teddy Wins First PL Golden Boot
Teddy Sheringham netted one goal for Clough’s Forest before an early-season transfer to White Hart Lane. At Tottenham Hotspur, Teddy scored 21 times and finished top of the Premier League scoring charts on 22 goals. Queens Park Rangers’ Les Ferdinand finished runner-up with 20, while Dean Holdsworth took bronze with 19.
Eric Cantona and Mark Hughes were the only non-English players to finish on the top 10 list. Frenchman Cantona scored 15 goals combined for Leeds and Man United, while Wales ace Hughes netted 15 for the Red Devils. Impressively Cantona, who was key in United ending their 26-year wait for a title, also assisted a further 16 goals, a league high. Chris Armstrong, Brian Deane, Matt Le Tissier, Mark Robins and Ian Wright also scored 15 times.
Deane had the honour of scoring the Premier League’s first goal. After five minutes in the opening game against Man United, the striker scored for the Blades in their eventual 2-1 win. Cantona netted the first hat-trick, scoring the treble in a 5-0 win for Leeds over Spurs in late August. There were 14 trebles scored in total in the Premier League’s inaugural campaign but Ferdinand was the only man who managed to score more than one, bagging three against both Everton and Forest.
Relegations & European Qualifications
Crystal Palace were the third and final team to be relegated from the 1992-93 season, going down on the last day. They finished level on points with Oldham Athletic, though the Latics had a slightly better goal difference. The Eagles would join Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough in the second tier.
Champions Man United went into the UEFA Champions League first round. After finishing second and third, respectively, Aston Villa and Norwich entered the UEFA Cup. Arsenal won the FA Cup and secured qualification to the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup first round.
Which Teams Were Relegated?
Clough had enormous success during his long stay at the City Ground, but this would be a disastrous year for Brian and his Reds. After losing Sheringham to Spurs early on, Forest struggled to find goals and ended up being the league’s second lowest scorers. They went down in early May after losing to Sheffield United.
The second team to join Forest in the second tier were Middlesbrough. The newly promoted side were in mid-table at Christmas but had an alarming dip in form in 1993. Despite winning two and drawing one of their last three, the damage was already done.
Crystal Palace took it to the final day. The Eagles would have stayed up with a positive result at Arsenal, but Steve Coppell’s boys suffered a 3-0 loss at Highbury. Oldham avoided the drop on goal difference after an enthralling 4-3 win over Southampton, which was their third victory on the bounce. The battle against the drop was very tight with regards the final relegation spot, with just three points separating relegated Palace and Sheffield United who were all the way up in 14th.
Which Teams Qualified For Europe?
Man United picked up the championship trophy and were awarded a place in the Champions League.
Runners-up Aston Villa qualified for the first round of the UEFA Cup.
Norwich were given a UEFA Cup spot via the league route as Arsenal won both cup competitions.
The Gunners entered the Cup Winners’ Cup.