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The 2001-02 season was the 122nd season of competitive football in Englandmarker.

Events

Arsenal cruise to title glory

In what had earlier been one of the most closely-fought Premiership title races for years, Arsenal won the championship by seven points. Their crown was won in the penultimate game of the season when they beat defending champions Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford. Four days earlier they had also won the F.A. Cup with a 2-0 victory over Chelsea at the Millennium Stadium.

Their top scorer, Thierry Henry, was on target 24 times in the league alone.

One downside to the season was Arsenal's failure to progress to the quarter-finals of the European Cup.

Sir Alex puts off his retirement

Sir Alex Ferguson announced in February that he would be postponing his retirement as Manchester United manager by at least three more seasons after he signed a new contract as manager. The news came just after United completed an impressive revival in the Premiership which saw them rise from ninth to first in the space of two months.

On 8 December, United stood ninth in the Premiership - 11 points behind Liverpool, who had a game in hand - and had lost six of their seven previous games in the aftermath of a 1-0 defeat at home to West Ham United. Even a UEFA Cup place was now looking beyond reach. But a nine-match winning run saw United cruise to the top of the Premiership and they were soon challenging a three-horse race with Liverpool and Arsenal. They remained in the title race until the penultimate game of the season, when they lost 1-0 at home to Arsenal and surrendered the title crown to their opponents.

United's failure was largely put down to the inability to find a suitable replacement for Jaap Stam, the brilliant Dutchmarker central defender who had been sold to Lazio for £16.25million just after the start of the season. Another disappointment was the failure of Juan Sebastián Verón, at £28.1million the most expensive player ever to sign for an English club, to never live up to his hefty price tag. On a positive note, Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy lived up to his £19million price tag by scoring 34 goals in all competitions during his first season at Old Trafford - breaking the club record that had been set by Dennis Viollet 40 seasons earlier.

After the season was over, rumours began to circulate that Sir Alex was about to break the English transfer record once again and bring in Leeds United central defender Rio Ferdinand, in hope that his side would return to their winning ways in 2002-03.

Ipswich fall from grace

A year after qualifying for the UEFA Cup and earning George Burley the Manager of the Year award, Ipswich Town dropped back into Division One. The Suffolk side had looked doomed by Christmas after winning just one of their first 18 Premiership games. Then came a turnaround in form which saw them win seven out of eight fixtures and climb to 12th place, suggesting that they were safe. But another decline set in, and this time Ipswich were unable to halt it. Their relegation was confirmed with a 5-0 defeat away to runners-up Liverpool on the final day of the season.

Joining Ipswich in Division One would be already doomed Derby County and Leicester City, both going down after six seasons in the Premiership - the last of which had seen three different men take charge of the team.

West Brom and Birmingham back in the big time

West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City, who had last played in the top flight in 1985-86, were finally promoted back to the top division with Albion as Division One runners-up and Birmingham as playoff winners. In an ironic twist, Albion had overtaken another local rival - Wolves - in the race for the run for second place by winning seven of their final nine league games. Birmingham's triumph was sealed by a penalty-shoot out win over Norwich at the Millennium Stadium. They followed champions Manchester City, managed by Kevin Keegan, into the Premiership.

Back to back for Brighton

Brighton and Hove Albion secured successive title winning promotions, becoming the first club since Millwall in 1964-66. This was a massive turnaround for the fortunes of the club which had between 1996 and 1998 finished second bottom of the football league.

The Battle of Bramall Lane

One of the seven Albion wins in their promotion run came on 16 March 2002, against Sheffield United at Bramall Lanemarker. This match, unfortunately, would turn into one of the most ill-tempered in recent English football history, with three United players sent off, two of them for violent conduct in the second half. The match was abandoned with Albion up 3-0 after two other United players came up injured, reducing them to six players. Ultimately, The FA let the 3-0 scoreline stand.

ITV Digital crisis plunges league clubs into turmoil

The collapse of debt-ridden ITV Digital in May 2002 plunged many Football League clubs into turmoil. The likes of Bradford City, Nottingham Forest, Watford, Barnsley, Lincoln City and Port Vale filed for administration, fearful that the drastic loss of revenue would put them out of business.

Of all the troubled clubs, Bradford City's situation was the most precarious. The West Yorkshire club had debts of £36million and had failed to meet a deadline for a takeover deal. It seemed inevitable that the Bantams, who had gone into liquidation in 1983, would endure a total collapse and lose their place in the Football League. Their only hope was for the Football League to ignore their financial plight and allow them a place in Division One for the 2002-03 season.

Dario reaches managerial milestone

On November 20 2001, Dario Gradi took charge of his 1,000 competitive game in charge of Crewe Alexandra in Division One. Gradi had arrived at Crewe in June 1983, and he reached this landmark just four months into a season which had already seen a total of more than 20 managerial changes in the Premiership, Division One, Division Two and Division Three. Crewe ended the season by being relegated to Division Two but the club's directors showed no intention of parting company with the longest-serving manager at any Football League club.

Wimbledon get go-ahead for Milton Keynes move

Just after the end of the Division one season, a three-man panel of The Football Association gave permission for Wimbledon F.C. to move from their historic South Londonmarker home to Milton Keynesmarker. The move sparked outrage among Wimbledon supporters, who formed their own club - AFC Wimbledon - in response to the controversial plans of chairman Charles Koppel.

League tables

FA Premier League

Pos Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1. Arsenal 38 26 9 3 79 36  +43 87
2. Liverpool 38 24 8 6 67 30  +37 80
3. Manchester United 38 24 5 9 87 45  +42 77
4. Newcastle United 38 21 8 9 74 52  +22 71
5. Leeds United 38 18 12 8 53 37  +16 66
6. Chelsea 38 17 13 8 66 38  +28 64
7. West Ham United 38 15 8 15 48 57  -9 53
8. Aston Villa 38 12 14 12 46 47  -1 50
9. Tottenham Hotspur 38 14 8 16 49 53  -4 50
10. Blackburn Roversmarker 38 12 10 16 55 51  +4 46
11. Southampton 38 12 9 17 46 54  -8 45
12. Middlesbrough 38 12 9 17 35 47  +12 45
13. Fulham 38 10 14 14 36 44  -8 44
14. Charlton Athletic 38 10 14 14 38 49  -11 44
15. Everton 38 11 10 17 45 57  -12 43
16. Bolton Wanderers 38 9 13 16 44 62  -18 40
17. Sunderland 38 10 10 18 29 51  -22 40
18. Ipswich Town 38 9 9 20 41 64  -23 36
19. Derby County 38 8 6 24 33 63  -30 30
20. Leicester City 38 5 13 20 30 64  -34 28


Key
Qualified for the Champions League
Qualified for the UEFA Cup
Relegated to Division One


Nationwide League Division One

Manchester City managed to make an immediate return from the previous season's relegation, and returned to the Premier League as champions. West Bromwich Albion built on their surprise play-off appearance the previous year, and returned to the top-flight for the first time since 1986. The play-offs were won by Birmingham City, finally earning promotion after two successive disappointments, and also returning to the top flight for the first time since 1986.

Stockport County endured a dismal season despite the high-profile appointment of Carlton Palmer as manager, and fell into Division Two. Barnsley also went down, despite a play-off final appearance only two years previously. The final relegation spot was filled by Crewe, who for once were unable to pull off a survival act.

Pos Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1. Manchester City 46 31 6 9 108 52  +56 99
2. West Bromwich Albion 46 27 8 11 61 29  +32 89
3. Wolverhampton Wanderers 46 25 11 10 76 43  +33 86
4. Millwall 46 22 11 13 69 48  +21 77
5. Birmingham City 46 21 13 12 70 49  +21 76
6. Norwich City 46 22 9 15 60 51  +9 75
7. Burnley 46 21 12 13 70 62  +8 75
8. Preston North End 46 20 12 14 71 59  +12 72
9. Wimbledon 46 18 13 15 63 57  +6 67
10. Crystal Palace 46 20 6 20 70 62  +8 66
11. Coventry City 46 20 6 20 59 53  +6 66
12. Gillingham 46 18 10 18 64 67  -3 64
13. Sheffield United 46 15 15 16 53 54  -1 60
14. Watford 46 16 11 19 62 56  +6 59
15. Bradford City 46 15 10 21 69 76  -7 55
16. Nottingham Forest 46 12 18 16 50 51  -1 54
17. Portsmouth 46 13 14 19 60 72  -12 53
18. Walsall 46 13 12 21 51 71  -20 51
19. Grimsby Town 46 12 14 20 50 72  -22 50
20. Sheffield Wednesday 46 12 14 20 49 71  -22 50
21. Rotherham United 46 10 19 17 52 66  -14 49
22. Crewe Alexandramarker 46 12 13 21 47 76  -29 49
23. Barnsley 46 11 15 20 59 86  -27 48
24. Stockport County 46 6 8 32 42 102  -60 26


See also: Play-off results

Top Goalscorer: Shaun Goater (Man City) 28 goals.

Key
Promoted to the Premier League
Qualified for the promotion playoff
Relegated to Division Two


Nationwide League Division Two

Brighton earned a second successive championship, despite the loss of manager Micky Adams early in the season - however, they would also have to cope with the loss of replacement manager Peter Taylor after the season ended. Reading earned the runners-up spot after four seasons in Division Two, and the play-offs were won by Stoke City, who strangely proceeded to sack manager Gudjon Thordarson immediately afterwards.

Cambridge United were cut adrift early in the season, and never looked to have much chance of surviving. Long-time Division Two members Wrexham never recovered from a bad start, and also went down. Bury suffered a financial crisis off the pitch and the effects of this ultimately affected the team's performance and sent them down to the League's bottom tier. The final relegation spot was filled by Bournemouth.

Pos Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1. Brighton & Hove Albion 46 25 15 6 66 42  +24 90
2. Reading 46 23 15 8 70 43  +27 84
3. Brentford 46 24 11 11 77 43  +34 83
4. Cardiff City 46 23 14 9 75 50  +25 83
5. Stoke City 46 23 11 12 67 40  +27 80
6. Huddersfield Town 46 21 15 10 65 47  +18 78
7. Bristol City 46 21 10 15 68 53  +15 73
8. Queens Park Rangers 46 19 14 13 60 49  +11 71
9. Oldham Athletic 46 18 16 12 77 65  +12 70
10. Wigan Athletic 46 16 16 14 66 51  +15 64
11. Wycombe Wanderers 46 17 13 26 58 64  -6 64
12. Tranmere Rovers 46 16 15 15 63 60  +3 63
13. Swindon Town 46 15 14 17 46 56  -10 59
14. Port Vale 46 16 10 20 51 62  -11 58
15. Colchester United 46 15 12 19 65 76  -11 57
16. Blackpool 46 14 14 18 66 69  -3 56
17. Peterborough United 46 15 10 21 64 59  +5 55
18. Chesterfield 46 13 13 20 53 65  -12 52
19. Notts County 46 13 11 22 59 71  -12 50
20. Northampton Town 46 14 7 25 54 79  -25 49
21. Bournemouth 46 10 14 22 56 71  -15 44
22. Bury 46 11 11 24 43 75  -32 44
23. Wrexham 46 11 10 25 56 89  -33 43
24. Cambridge United 46 7 13 26 47 93  -46 34


Key
Promoted to Division One
Qualified for the promotion playoff
Relegated to Division Three


Nationwide League Division Three

Plymouth and Luton were involved in a close fight for the divisional title for the whole season; ultimately Plymouth won out, with Luton taking the runners-up spot and making an immediate return to Division Two after going down the previous season. The third automatic spot was closely contested between Mansfield and Cheltenham; Mansfield were the ultimate victors despite some poor results late in the season, but Cheltenham would win promotion anyway through the play-offs.

This was the final season where only a single team would drop out of the League into the Conference. Ultimately there proved to be little drama about who would go down, as it became obvious from the first few weeks that Halifax Town were doomed, never managing to earn enough wins to have any serious chance of survival.

Pos Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1. Plymouth Argyle 46 31 9 6 71 28  +43 102
2. Luton Town 46 30 7 9 96 48  +48 97
3. Mansfield Town 46 24 7 15 72 60  +12 79
4. Cheltenham Town 46 21 15 10 66 49  +17 78
5. Rochdale 46 21 15 10 65 52  +13 78
6. Rushden & Diamonds 46 20 13 13 69 53  +16 73
7. Hartlepool United 46 20 11 15 74 48  +26 71
8. Scunthorpe United 46 19 14 13 74 56  +18 71
9. Shrewsbury Town 46 20 10 16 64 53  +11 70
10. Kidderminster Harriers 46 19 9 18 56 47  +9 66
11. Hull City 46 16 13 17 57 51  +6 61
12. Southend United 46 15 13 18 51 54  -3 58
13. Macclesfield Town 46 15 13 18 41 52  -11 58
14. York City 46 16 9 21 54 67  -13 57
15. Darlington 46 15 11 20 60 71  -11 56
16. Exeter City 46 14 13 19 48 73  -25 55
17. Carlisle United 46 12 16 18 48 56  -8 52
18. Leyton Orient 46 13 13 20 52 71  -19 52
19. Torquay United 46 12 15 19 46 53  -17 51
20. Swansea City 46 13 12 21 53 76  -23 51
21. Oxford United 46 11 14 21 53 62  -9 47
22. Lincoln City 46 10 16 20 44 62  -18 46
23. Bristol Rovers 46 11 12 23 40 60  -20 45
24. Halifax Town 46 8 12 26 39 84  -45 36


Key
Promoted to Division Two
Qualified for the promotion playoff
Relegated to Nationwide Conference


Diary of the season



Promoted teams

From Division One to The Premier League:
Manchester City
West Bromwich Albion
Birmingham City


From Division Two to Division One:
Brighton & Hove Albion
Reading
Stoke City


From Division Three to Division Two:
Plymouth Argyle
Luton Town
Mansfield Town
Cheltenham Town


From The Football Conference to Division Three:
Boston United


Relegated teams

From The Premier League to Division One:
Ipswich Town
Derby County
Leicester City


From Division One to Division Two:
Crewe Alexandramarker
Barnsley
Stockport County


From Division Two to Division Three:
A.F.C. Bournemouth
Bury
Wrexham
Cambridge United


From Division Three to The Football Conference:
Halifax Town


Transfer deals

1 August 2001
2 August 2001
3 August 2001
9 August 2001
10 August 2001
14 August 2001
16 August 2001
24 August 2001
31 August 2001
3 September 2001
14 September 2001
24 September 2001
19 October 2001
30 November 2001
7 December 2001
24 December 2001
29 December 2001
23 January 2002
30 January 2002
8 February 2002
18 February 2002
6 March 2002
18 March 2002
28 March 2002
18 April 2002


For subsequent transfer deals see 2002-03 in English football.

Managerial changes

August

September

October

November

December

January

February

March

April

May

June

July



Famous Debutants



Deaths

  • 5 August 2001: Aaron Flahavan, 25, Portsmouth goalkeeper who had played 93 first-team games since 1996, died in a car crash in west Hampshire just before the start of the season.


  • 8 August 2001: Paul Vaessen, 39, former Arsenal striker whose career was cut short by injury. Most famous for scoring the goal that earned Arsenal a place in the 1980 Cup Winners' Cup final.


  • 19 August 2001: Les Sealey, 43, who kept goal for Manchester United in their 1990 F.A. Cup and 1991 Cup Winners Cup triumphs, died of a heart attack in north London. He had also played for Coventry City, Luton Town, Aston Villa, Birmingham City (on loan), Blackpool and West Ham United, and at the time of his death had been working for West Ham United as goalkeeping coach.


  • 20 August 2001: Tom Staniforth, 20, Sheffield Wednesday defender, collapsed and died on a night out in York. He was a promising young defender for the club and a son of former footballer Gordon Staniforth.


  • 1 September 2001: Brian Moore, 69, former BBC Radio and ITV commentator, died of cancer three years after retiring from football commentary.




  • 22 October 2001: Bertie Mee, 80, Arsenal double-winning manager 1970-71, died after a long illness. He also guided Arsenal to European Fairs Cup glory, achieved one year before the double triumph. From 1976 to 1986 he was assistant manager to Graham Taylor at Watford, and remained at the club as a director until his retirement in 1991.




  • 19 January 2002: Jeff Astle, 59, West Bromwich Albion and England striker, died suddenly in Burton-upon-Trent. He is best remembered for his appearances on the T.V. series 'Fantasy Football' and for scoring Albion's winning goal against Everton in the 1968 F.A. Cup final.




  • 26 March 2002: Kenneth Wolstenholme, 81, BBC television commentator, who famously commentated England's 1966 World Cup triumph and is best remembered for saying 'They think it's all over... it is now' when Geoff Hurst scored England's last-minute winner.




References

  1. http://www.rsssf.com/tablese/engtops.html RSSSF Archive of English League Top Goalscorers



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