1998/99 Season Review

25 May 2018
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Man Utd capture their fifth Premier League title as part of an historic treble

History was made as Manchester United became the first English club to win the treble of Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League treble as their fate in all three competitions was sealed in an incredible 10-day period in May.

The first of the three trophies was the Premier League title. After locking horns with Arsenal and Chelsea throughout the campaign, the Gunners fell short by just one point as Andrew Cole sealed a comeback victory for Man Utd against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on the final day.

The gripping finale followed a campaign full of landmark moments, as the Premier League Academy system was set up, England got three Champions League places for the first time and the Premier League's turnover rose to £281million.

In the summer of 1998, Man Utd looked to bounce back from Arsenal's maiden Premier League title triumph with the additions of Jesper Blomqvist, Jaap Stam and Aston Villa striker Dwight Yorke. At Chelsea, Gianluca Vialli brought Marcel Desailly to Chelsea after he starred in France's 1998 FIFA World Cup triumph.

Another shining light in the summer's World Cup was England forward Michael Owen. The 18-year-old hit the ground running on his return from France with a hat-trick for a Liverpool team now under the joint management of Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier, as they beat Newcastle United 4-1 in Ruud Gullit's first match in charge at St James' Park.

In September, Christian Gross left as manager of Spurs to be replaced by former Arsenal boss George Graham. In his last match as Leeds United manager, Graham led his side to a 3-3 draw at White Hart Lane. He guided Spurs to 11th and a League Cup, with the dazzling form of winger David Ginola recognised with the Professional Footballers' Association and Football Writers' Association Player of the Year awards.

David O'Leary stepped up from assistant to manager at Leeds and guided them to a fourth-place finish, with striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink the Premier League's joint top scorer, alongside Owen and Yorke, with 18 goals.

Villa compensated for the loss of Yorke by recruiting Dion Dublin and Paul Merson, and they flourished under John Gregory, spending much of the first half of the season at the top. Dublin's double helped them recover to beat Arsenal 3-2 at Villa Park in December, but a 10-match winless run at the turn of the year ended their title hopes.

Ginola PFA.jpg
Three-horse race

A difficult winter spell for Leeds meant the title race was between Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea. After losing their opening match at Coventry City, Chelsea went on a 22-match unbeaten run before Dennis Bergkamp's goal for the Gunners consigned them to their second league defeat in January.

Man Utd came to the fore and five successive wins put them in the ascendancy in February. In one of those victories, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came off the bench to score four goals in 14 minutes as they thrashed Nottingham Forest 8-1 at the City Ground, the biggest away win in Premier League history.

Man Utd remained unbeaten for the rest of the campaign but only one defeat apiece for Arsenal and Chelsea during that time took the title race down to the wire. Steve Guppy's stoppage-time leveller for Leicester City at Stamford Bridge landed a damaging blow to Chelsea's hopes, while Liverpool held Man Utd to a 2-2 draw on the same weekend.

Treble delight for United

Arsenal's 1-0 loss to Leeds in their penultimate match of the season and a 0-0 draw for Man Utd against Blackburn Rovers, who were relegated four years after being crowned Premier League champions, meant Sir Alex Ferguson's side were one point ahead of the Gunners going into the final day.

Arsenal beat Villa 1-0 but despite Spurs going ahead at Old Trafford, David Beckham fired in a brilliant equaliser and Andrew Cole's perfectly executed chip sealed Man Utd's title.

A few days later Teddy Sheringham fired United to an FA Cup final win against Newcastle and the double. Then a stoppage-time comeback in the UEFA Champions League final against Bayern Munich made United first English club to win the prestigious trio of honours in the same season.

United Treble winners.jpg
Campbell saves Everton

There was no shortage of drama at the bottom of the table, as ever-present Premier League clubs Everton and Southampton staged remarkable run-ins to avoid relegation.

Kevin Campbell joined Everton on loan from Turkish club Trabzonspor in March and netted nine goals as they won four of their final six matches. Southampton climbed out of the drop zone for the first time all season in May. They won their last three matches, with talisman Matt Le Tissier scoring direct from a corner in a crucial win at Wimbledon.

Southampton’s final-day win over Everton consigned Charlton Athletic to relegation in their first PL campaign. Blackburn went down despite the efforts of Brian Kidd, who had taken over after leaving his role as Man Utd assistant manager, and Nottingham Forest finished bottom.

Kevin Campbell, Everton.jpg

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