Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
FA Premier League 1994-95
This article describes the FA Premier League 1994-95 season.
In January 1995, Manchester United's 28-year-old French striker Eric Cantona (holder of the PFA Player of the Year award) assaulted a Crystal Palace fan in his team's 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park. He was banned from football for eight months, fined £20,000 and sentenced to 14 days in prison - but the prison sentence was 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 that he was an alcoholic and was also addicted to cocaine and gambling. He underwent a three-month rehabilitation programme before being allowed to resume his playing career.
Crystal Palace striker Chris Armstrong failed a drugs test in February 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 First Division just one season after winning promotion. Armstrong was then sold to Tottenham Hotspur for £4.5million.
George Graham, probably Arsenal's most successful manager ever, was sacked in February after nearly nine years in charge after it was revealed that he had accepted a £425,000 illegal payment from Swedish agent Rune Hauge relating to the purchases of Danish players Pal Lydersen and John Jensen three years earlier. Graham was later banned from football for one year by the F.A.
Just before the start of the 1994-95 season, the English transfer record was broken when Blackburn Rovers paid £5million for 21-year-old Norwich City striker Chris Sutton. But that record was broken again in January when Manchester United paid £6million (plus £1million-rated Keith Gillespie ) for Newcastle United's Andy Cole. Other significant transfers before and during the 1994-95 season included: Vinny Samways (Tottenham to Everton, £2million), David Rocastle (Manchester City to Chelsea, £1.25million), Jurgen Klinsmann (Monaco to Tottenham, £2million), John Scales (Wimbledon to Liverpool, £3million) and Paul Kitson (Derby County to Newcastle United, £2.2million).
1994-95 also brought many managerial changes in the Premiership. After George Graham's sacking, Arsenal appointed coach Stewart Houston as temporary manager until the end of the season (after which he was replaced by Bolton Wanderers manager Bruce Rioch). Tottenham Hotspur, who were fined £1.5million as well as being deducted 12 Premiership points and banned from the FA Cup (although the latter two punishments were quashed on appeal), sacked Osvaldo Ardiles after a poor start to the season and appointed QPR boss Gerry Francis . In turn, QPR appointed long serving midfielder Ray Wilkins, 38, as player manager. West Ham United sacked Billy Bonds before the start of the season and promoted assistant manager Harry Redknapp to the position of manager. Ipswich sacked John Lyall just before Christmas and appointed Colchester United's George Burley as his replacement. John Deehan resigned as Norwich City manager in early April and was replaced by Gary Megson, who was unable to prevent relegation and quickly made way for Martin O'Neill. In November 1994, just 18 months after finishing runners-up, Aston Villa were hovering near the Premiership relegation zone and sacked manager Ron Atkinson. He was replaced by Leicester manager Brian Little, who in turn was succeeded by Mark McGhee of Reading. Atkinson returned to management with Coventry three months later, as replacement for Phil Neal. Just before the end of the season, Brian Horton was sacked as manager of Manchester City and replaced by Southampton's Alan Ball. Southampton replaced Ball with first team coach David Merrington . Just after the end of the season, Sheffield Wednesday dismissed Trevor Francis and replaced him with Luton Town's David Pleat. Earlier in the season, Everton sacked Mike Walker after a terrible start to a campaign which had followed millions of pounds being squandered on players who failed to live up to expectations. They replaced him with Oldham Athletic's Joe Royle, who turned the club's fortunes round dramatically.
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 had to settle for 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.
England's representatives in the 1995-96 Cup Winners' Cup would be Everton, whose new manager Joe Royle had guided them to 15th place in the Premiership and finally to a 1-0 win over Manchester United in the F.A Cup final, which left Alex Ferguson's team (so near to a second successive double and third successive Premiership title) without a major trophy for the first time since 1989.
1994-95 was to the last season of the 22-club Premiership. The F.A had decided to decrease the division to 20 clubs. That meant that four teams would be relegated from the Premiership and just two promoted in 1994-95.
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 at the end of 1994 had been pushing for a UEFA Cup place but then gone into freefall, winning just one of their final 20 games. The final relegation place went to Crystal Palace, who went down on the final day. Despite a brilliant fightback at Newcastle on the final day of the season, they lost 3-2 and manager Alan Smith was sacked within a week.
The only automatic promotion place to the 1995-96 Premiership went to Division One champions Middlesbrough, who had excelled in their first season under new player-manager Bryan Robson. The playoff final was contested between Bolton Wanderers and Reading. Reading led 2-0 at half time, but the game went into extra time after Bolton scored twice. The final score in a dramatic game was 4-3 to Bolton, who returned to the top division after a 15-year absence. Reading, who had never reached the top division in their history, became the first runners-up of Division One/Second Division not to win promotion.
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