Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
FA Premier League 1997-98
This article describes the FA Premier League 1997-98 season.
The 1997-98 Premiership season saw Aresnal lift their first league title since 1991, and also become only the second team to win the 'double' twice. What made the achievements by the North Londoners, in their first full season under French manager Arsene Wenger, all the more impressive was the fact that they looked set to end the season trophyless until the final few weeks of the season. They were fifth in the Premiership at the turn of 1998, and 15 points adrift of top place, and even by the beginning of March they were still 11 points short of leaders Manchester United. But Arsenal took advantage of having three games in hand, and a 1-0 away win over United at Old Trafford made them favourites for the title. Arsenal secured the Premier League title at the beginning of May after beating Everton 4-0 at home. They lost their final two games of the season and finished one point ahead of Manchester United. This great Arsenal side included several recently signed foreign stars including French midfielder Emmanuel Petit and Dutch winger Marc Overmars.
Chelsea also completed a 'double', but the success came after a surprise managerial change. In February, Ruud Gullit was sacked after 18 months in charge following a dispute with chairman Ken Bates over transfer funds. 33-year-old Italian striker Gianluca Vialli was placed in charge and quickly guided them to success in the finals of the League Cup and Cup Winners' Cup.
In 1998, a record total of eight English teams qualified for European competition. Premiership champions Arsenal and runners-up Manchester United qualified for the Champions League, while UEFA Cup places went to Liverpool, Leeds United, Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers. Qualifying for the Cup Winners Cup would be defending winners Chelsea and F.A Cup runners-up Newcastle United.
The gap between the Premier League and Division One of the Football League was highlighted at the end of 1997-98 when all three newly promoted teams were relegated. Crystal Palace, who had begun the season reasonably well, were confined to bottom place in the final table because they had won just two home games all season. Barnsley's first season in the top division ended in relegation, although they did reach the FA Cup quarter finals and knock out Manchester United in the Fifth Round. Bolton Wanderers went down on goal difference, with 17th place being occupied by Everton. Despite preserving top flight football at Everton for the 45th season running, Howard Kendall quit as manager at Goodison Park after his third spell in charge.
1997-98 also had its fair share of managerial changes. Crystal Palace manager Steve Coppell was promoted to Director of Football in March, being replaced by Italian midfielder Atillo Lombardo until the end of the season, after which Terry Venables was appointed head coach. November saw the dismissals of David Pleat at Sheffield Wednesday and Gerry Francis at Tottenham. Pleat was replaced until the end of the season by Ron Atkinson, who was in turn replaced by Barnsley's Danny Wilson. Tottenham appointed Christian Gross , the head coach of Swiss champions Grasshoppers Zurich, as their new manager. Brian Little quit Aston Villa to be replaced by the club's former coach John Gregory, who was lured away from Wycombe Wanderers. Gregory helped the midlanders climb from 15th place in February to seventh place in the final table - and secure a UEFA Cup place for the third season running.
Before the season began, Southamption replaced Graeme Souness with David Jones, who had just guided Stockport County to promotion from Division Two and to the semi finals of the League Cup. Blackburn's caretaker manager Tony Parkes, who had temporarily replaced Ray Harford the previous October, returned to his previous position of first team coach and was replaced as manager by Roy Hodgson .
After the season was over, more managerial changes were made. Everton replaced Howard Kendall with Walter Smith, the former Glasgow Rangers manager who had won seven successive Scottish league titles as well as two doubles and a treble. Danny Wilson left relegated Barnsley to take charge at Sheffield Wednesday, and was replaced by player John Hendrie . Kenny Dalglish was sacked in early August to make way for ex-Chelsea manager Ruud Gullit.
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