Third in a Row for Ferguson’s United
The 2000-01 season was the ninth Premier League campaign since its inception in 1992. Manchester United won the championship for the third year in a row, with boss Alex Ferguson becoming the first manager in English football history to win three consecutive top division titles. As such he went one better than the likes of Sir Matt Busby (Manchester United), Bob Paisley (Liverpool) and Herbert Chapman (Arsenal). United finished 10 points above Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal after being at the top of the table since 14th October 2000. Liverpool ended in third after a very strong finish to the campaign and secured a memorable treble in the cup competitions.
A year on from their great escape, Bradford City finished rock bottom of the Premier League and were relegated to the Football League First Division. Coventry City were the second relegated club, while Manchester City finished eight points away from safety in 18th position. The standard of the teams directly above the drop zone was high, as 17th-place Derby County finished on a very respectable total of 42 points along with Everton, West Ham United and Middlesbrough.
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Red Devils on Top Again
Man United picked up their third Premier League title in a row at the end of the 2000-01 season. The Red Devils were the dominant force in the early years of the new league, with the 2001 win being their seventh Premier League crown and 14th English title. Ferguson’s superstars won 24 times, drew eight and lost six games to seal a total of 80 points and win the division by a margin of 10 points from Arsenal.
The Red Devils made a stunning start, losing only one game before mid-December. After a 1-0 loss to Arsenal at Highbury, which felt like a significant result at the time, United went on an eight-game winning streak in the league. With the title already in the bag, three of their six defeats came in the last three matches of the season. Despite successive losses to Derby County, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur at the end, Man United were the top dogs in England yet again as the other sides just couldn’t keep pace with them.
Reds Secure Stunning Treble
Liverpool had a decent season in the Premier League. Under the management of the popular Gerard Houllier, the Reds picked up 20 wins and claimed 69 points. Despite Liverpool hammering Charlton Athletic 4-0 on the final weekend, the Gunners had already secured second place and finished a point above the Merseysiders. The Reds finished the campaign well though and were able to stay ahead of Leeds United and Ipswich Town.
Liverpool were outstanding in the domestic cup competitions during the season. On 25th February, they picked up their first trophy of the campaign, beating Birmingham City on penalties in the League Cup final at the Millennium Stadium. A few months later, Houllier’s side were back in Cardiff for the 2001 FA Cup final. Two late Michael Owen goals gave them a 2-1 win over the Gunners to make it a domestic double.
Liverpool sealed a terrific cup treble just four days after their FA Cup final win. The Reds were involved in a nine-goal thriller with Spanish side Alaves in the 2001 UEFA Cup final at the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund. An own goal in extra time proved to be the difference after the sides battled to a 4-4 draw in 90 minutes.
Burley Wins Manager of the Year
Despite the outstanding achievements by the likes of Houllier and Ferguson, the Manager of the Year award went to George Burley of Ipswich Town. The Scot did a remarkable job at Portman Road, guiding the Tractor Boys to a fifth-place finish in the Premier League. After their 66-point haul, Ipswich earned a place in the UEFA Cup as winners of that comeptitions Liverpool were already in Europe.
Ipswich were a newly promoted team after winning the play-offs in 2000. They had one of the lowest budgets in the league and were the bookies’ favourites for relegation. However, they defied the odds, picking up an incredible 20 wins to finish above Chelsea and just six points behind Liverpool.
Jimmy Wins Golden Boot
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink had a stunning season in front of goal for Chelsea. The Dutchman netted 23 times for the Blues, who went on to secure sixth place in the table and thus entry to the UEFA Cup the following season. Hasselbaink finished four clear of runner-up Marcus Stewart. The Ipswich ace played a huge part in Town’s success, netting 19 times for Burley’s boys.
Only one Englishman finished in the top four of the top goalscorers’ chart, though there were six home players in the top 10. Owen, who netted hat-tricks against Aston Villa and Newcastle, scored 16 goals, while teammate Emile Heskey helped himself to 14 goals. Thierry Henry and Mark Viduka shared the bronze medal with 17 goals for Arsenal and Leeds United respectively. Man United’s top scorer was Teddy Sheringham, who bagged 15 for the champions.
Relegations & European Qualifications
Bradford’s luck ran out at the end of the 2000-01 season, as Jim Jeffries could not keep the Bantams in the top tier. They were joined in the 2001-02 Football League Division One by Coventry City and Manchester City. Middlesbrough, West Ham, Everton and Derby all finished on 42 points and stayed up comfortably in the end, though some of those sides were certainly under pressure at times during the campaign.
Man United and Arsenal qualified for the first group stage of the Champions League, while Liverpool went into the third qualifying round. Leeds, Ipswich and Chelsea entered the UEFA Cup first round. Aston Villa and Newcastle qualified for the Intertoto Cup, meanwhile.
Which Teams Were Relegated?
Bradford picked up just five wins and were the first team to drop out of the Premier League. Paul Jewell pulled off the great escape the year before, but he left for Sheffield Wednesday in June 2000. The Bantams never got going, and Chris Hutchins, Stuart McCall and Jeffries all failed to turn their fortunes around. They were at the foot of the table from 16th December 2000 till the end of the season and finished on a total of just 26 points from their 38 games.
Coventry had an identical record with Man City, but their poorer goal difference took the Sky Blues down in 19th place. Both Coventry and Man City won eight games, drew 10 and lost 20. Gordon Strachan’s Sky Blues struggled for goals all season, with just Bradford scoring fewer. Coventry were relegated after 34 successive years in the top tier of English football.
Man City ended a poor campaign in 18th position, also with just 34 points to their name. Joe Royle’s men picked up seven points from a possible nine in April, but the revival came too little, too late. The Citizens’ season ended with back-to-back defeats to Ipswich and Chelsea. City were the only promoted team to be relegated as Ipswich and Charlton stayed up.
Which Teams Qualified For Europe?
As mentioned, Man United won the league by 10 points and were thus the first team to qualify for the Champions League. They were later joined by Arsenal and Liverpool in Europe’s premier club competition. Liverpool – as 2001 UEFA Cup winners – had to enter the qualifying rounds, though.
As fifth-place finishers in the Premier League, Ipswich were awarded a UEFA Cup place as Liverpool had already qualified for the Champions League. The other UEFA Cup spots went to Leeds and Chelsea.
Leeds had a very solid campaign under former Arsenal and Leeds centre back David O’Leary, finishing in fourth position on 68 points. Aston Villa and Newcastle were given positions in the third round of qualifying for the Intertoto Cup.