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1994/95 Season Review

24 May 2018

Blackburn Rovers won their maiden Premier League title to upset the odds and break Man Utd's stranglehold on the league. Alan Shearer netted 34 times to win the first of his 3 successive Golden Boot awards.

For the first time in the Premier League, the trophy was not lifted by Manchester United as Blackburn Rovers ended a 81-year wait for the top-flight title.

Kenny Dalglish's Rovers finished just one point ahead of Man Utd on a tense final day and, in the process, the Scot became the third manager to lead two different clubs to glory in the top tier. Having already won the old First Division as Liverpool manager, the Scot emulated the feat of Herbert Chapman (Huddersfield Town and Arsenal) and Brian Clough (Derby County and Nottingham Forest).

Backed by Jack Walker's investment, Blackburn, who had been promoted to the top flight for the inaugural Premier League campaign in 1992/93, were inspired by the strike pairing of Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, dubbed “SAS”, who notched 49 league goals between them.

Shearer won the Golden Boot and equalled Andrew Cole's league-high tally of 34 the previous season, while Sutton contributed 15 after his summer move from Norwich City. The Canaries were one of four teams to be relegated as the Premier League was trimmed down to 20 clubs ahead of the 1995/96 season.

Klinsmann makes his mark

A flurry of foreign stars moved to the Premier League after their exploits in the 1994 FIFA World Cup in USA. Romania's Gheorghe Popescu (Tottenham Hotspur), Netherlands striker Bryan Roy (Nottingham Forest) and Sweden's Stefan Schwarz (Arsenal) came to England, but it was another Spurs import who made the biggest stir.

Jurgen Klinsmann arrived at White Hart Lane from Monaco in the summer and the Germany forward made an instant impact, scoring a bullet header in their 4-3 win over Sheffield Wednesday on 20 August, which was celebrated with a dive as he light-heartedly responded to his reputation for going to ground easily.

The next week, Liverpool set the tone for their much-improved campaign with a 3-0 win against Arsenal at Anfield. Aged just 19, Robbie Fowler scored all three goals in four minutes and 32 seconds, a feat that would remain the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history until May 2015. The Liverpool-born academy graduate was the league's second-highest scorer with 25 goals as Liverpool finished fourth.

Five-star Cole

Newcastle United were the early pace-setters and striker Cole continued his fine form from the previous season. The Magpies were unbeaten in their first 11 league matches before they lost 2-0 to Man Utd, who would sign Cole for a British record fee of £6m in January in a swap deal with Keith Gillespie.

Cole quickly found his feet at Old Trafford, becoming the first player to score five goals in a Premier League match, as United trounced Ipswich Town 9-0 on 4 March. Four other players have since scored five in a match, while Leicester City became the first side to match United’s margin of victory, when they put nine past Southampton in October 2019.

Blackburn wrestled top spot off Newcastle with a run of seven consecutive victories up until December, which was rounded off by a 3-2 win against Southampton at Ewood Park. The victory came despite Matt Le Tissier scoring a sublime strike from 35 yards, which was voted as the BBC Match of the Day's goal of the season.

Cole v Ipswich 94.jpg
Cantona absence costs United

Blackburn won four of their next five matches but their undefeated sequence was halted by Man Utd, who beat them 1-0 at Old Trafford on 22 January. Eric Cantona scored the winner but played his last match of the campaign three days later at Crystal Palace.

He was given a nine-month ban following an altercation with a supporter after he had been sent off in their 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park. The Frenchman had scored 12 goals in 21 league matches up until that point, and the Red Devils felt his absence, losing at both Everton and Liverpool and slipping to costly draws at Tottenham Hotspur, Leeds United and Chelsea.

Despite three consecutive victories leading up to their final match of the campaign, United were two points adrift of Blackburn going into the last day of the season. Dalglish travelled to his former club Liverpool and Alan Shearer, who had earned a vital 1-0 win against Newcastle the previous Monday, put Rovers ahead at Anfield.

Relief for Blackburn

The title looked to be heading to Blackburn when Michael Hughes gave West Ham United a 1-0 lead against United. But Brian McClair levelled terms at the Boleyn Ground, and strikes from John Barnes and Jamie Redknapp gave Liverpool a 2-1 lead against Rovers, opening the door for United, who needed one more goal for a third title.

But West Ham goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko pulled off a string of fine saves to deny Sir Alex Ferguson's side. The Blackburn team celebrated on the pitch at Anfield despite losing 2-1. Man Utd finished one point adrift and promoted Nottingham Forest finished third after an impressive campaign under Frank Clark.

The two other promoted teams, Crystal Palace and Leicester City, immediately returned to the Championship and were joined by Norwich, who had finished third in 1992/93, and Ipswich. Aston Villa, runners-up two years earlier, were one place above the drop zone.

Man Utd's disappointing season was completed when 15th-placed Everton earned a shock 1-0 victory in the final of the 1995 FA Cup.

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