The English Premier League was won by Manchester United this year, giving them a new record for the number of top-flight championships in England. United’s nineteenth title win and appearance in the Champions League final, where they were outclassed by Barcelona, suggest that it was business as usual in English football’s most important competition this year – Manchester United have won twelve championships since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, after all.
But it was a strange season. English football’s greatest club in terms of European success, Liverpool, found themselves in both financial and sporting crisis for much of the year. Their controversial owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillette, finally relinquished control of the club in autumn, bought out by New England Sports Ventures, the owners of the Boston Red Sox.
This happened to the relief and delight of Liverpool fans, who had watched the broken promises (for a new stadium, particularly), the lack of on-field success, and the club’s debts with mounting horror. That was only the first part of their season. The second involved the removal of manager Roy Hodgson in January.
Chelsea were the early pace setters until coach Ray Wilkins was sacked in November. Perhaps coincidentally, Chelsea lost five matches between November and the beginning of March, before a late run of form took them to within two games of the title, including a 2-1 defeat of Manchester United at Stamford Bridge
Elsewhere in the Premier League, Manchester City secured a Champions League spot for the first time. Arsenal continued to play wonderful football only to come up short at crucial times. It will now be a minimum of eight years between league championships for Arsene Wenger. Harry Redknapp’s attractive side must now hope that top European clubs do not come in for his best players – Manchester United have already expressed interest in Luka Modric.