- FA Premier League 2004–05
The 2004-05 season of the
FA Premier Leaguebegan on 14 August 2004 and ended on 15 May 2005. Chelsea F.C.became champions on 30 April 2005.
Final league table
Arsenal completed a record-breaking 49-match unbeaten league run before they finally lost 2-0 to Manchester United in late October, and before long their defence of the Premiership title was effectively over as Chelsea established a runaway lead. Second place in the final table was secured, with 83 points, a tally which would be enough to win the title in most seasons. Compensation for the loss of Arsenal's title came in the form of
FA Cupglory, achieved on penalties after a goalless draw with Manchester United at Millennium Stadiumin Cardiff. They also inherited the Community Shieldat the start of the season.
David O'Leary's first season as manager of Aston Villa had so very nearly brought a
UEFA Cupplace for the midlanders, but his second season ended with fans calling for his dismissal as Villa finished 10th and failed to make an impact in either of the cup competitions. The sale of striker Darius Vassellto Manchester City at the end of the season proved unpopular with fans, and O'Leary responded by signing Kevin Phillipsfrom Southampton and Milan Barosfrom Liverpool to bolster the attack.
Steve Bruce's team continued to consolidate in the Premiership, although 12th place in 2004-05 was a two-place setback on the previous campaign's 10th place finish. Most importantly, the Blues managed to stay well clear of relegation, even though they never really looked like qualifying for the
The departure of manager
Graeme Sounessto Newcastle in early September saw the manager's seat filled by Welsh national coach Mark Hughes. Under their new manager, Blackburn matched the previous campaign's dismal 15th place, but they did at least enjoy the excitement of a run to the FA Cupsemi-finals, where they were finally eliminated by eventual winners Arsenal.
Sam Allardyceguided Bolton Wanderers to sixth place in the Premiership and they finished level on points with European champions Liverpool, and qualified for the UEFA Cupto achieve European qualification for the first time in their history.
Alan Curbishley's 14th season as manager of Charlton Athletic brought an 11th place finish in the Premiership, and while they never really looked like qualifying for the
UEFA Cup, there was at last some much-needed consistency after three successive seasons of costly late-season slumps.
A record of 29 wins and 95 points confirmed Chelsea as Premiership champions - their first top division title triumph in 50 years and only their second of all time. They also conceded just 15 league goals all season - the lowest total of any club in an English professional league since the
Football Leaguewas formed in 1888. There was also the glory of a Carling Cup triumph at the expense of Liverpool, who caused the only major disappointment in Chelsea's near-perfect season by eliminating them from the European Cup in the semi-finals and going on to win the trophy.
Andy Johnsonwas the Premiership's second highest goalscorer with 21 league goals, but the rest of the Crystal Palace team managed only 20 goals combined, and Palace were relegated on the final day of the season when a late Jonathan Fortuneequaliser for Charlton Athletic saw them draw 2-2 at The Valley. Despite this, the board of directors kept faith in manager Iain Dowie, who had taken over barely 18 months earlier when Palace were 19th in Division One. There was better news for the club, and a priceless boost to their chances of an immediate return to the elite, when Andy Johnson announced that he would be staying at the club to help them regain their Premiership status, rather than stay in the Premiership and sign for another club.
Despite the loss of striker
Wayne Rooneyto Manchester United at the start of the season, Everton bounced back dramatically from last season's 17th place finish to achieve a commendable fourth place in the final table. Never before had Everton achieved such a high finish in the Premiership, and not since 1988 had they achieved such a high finish in the league at all. They also qualified for the European Cup for the first time since 1970, and for European competition for the first time since 1995.
Fulham were unable to match their record finish of ninth in the league that had been achieved the previous season, but 13th place in the final table was still a decent final position for one of the Premiership's less favoured sides with one of the most inexperienced managers. It was a decent welcome back to a revamped 22,000-seat
Craven Cottageafter two seasons ground-sharing with QPR at Loftus Road.
It was a frustrating Premiership campaign for Liverpool in their first season under the management of
Rafael Benitez, as they finished fifth in the league with a mere 58 points. In late February there was the disappointment of losing to Chelsea in the Carling Cup final, but a few weeks later Liverpool got their own back on Chelsea by beating them in the European Cup semi-finals. On 25 May 2005, Liverpool enjoyed one of their finest moments by lifting the European Cup after defeating AC Milanon penalties; the match had been drawn 3-3 after Liverpool had fought back from being 3-0 down.
Kevin Keeganstepped down as Manchester City manager in March to be succeeded by Stuart Pearce. They went into the final game of the season knowing that victory over Middlesbrough would give them a UEFA Cup place. However, a penalty miss by Robbie Fowlerprevented them from turning a 1-1 draw into a 2-1 lead, and consequently the final European spot went to the Teessiders instead. Still, it was City's highest-ever Premiership finish.
77 points can be enough in some seasons for a team to win the Premiership title, but this time it wasn't even enough for second place, as Manchester United had to settle for third place in the Premiership behind champions Chelsea on 95 points and runners-up Arsenal on 83. Their European Cup dreams were ended in the second round by
AC Milan, while they were eliminated in the Carling Cup by Chelsea in the semi-finals, and their last chance of silverware ended in the FA Cup finalwhen they lost on penalties to Arsenal after a goalless draw during which Rio Ferdinandhad a goal disallowed.
Middlesbrough, the previous season's Carling Cup winners, achieved European qualification for the second season running as a
Robbie Fowlerpenalty miss for Manchester City ensured that they drew 1-1 in the final game of the season and finished seventh in the table to seal the final UEFA Cupspot.
71-year-old manager Sir Bobby Robson was sacked at the end of August after Newcastle made a slow start to the season. The manager's seat was filled by Blackburn's
Graeme Souness, who was unable to prevent Newcastle from enduring their worst Premiership final position yet (14th, which was also their lowest top division finish since they were relegated from the old First Division in 1989) but at least guided them a strong FA Cup run. They lasted in the competition until the semi-finals, where they were eliminated 4-1 by Manchester United. The season reached yet another low on 2 April 2005 against Aston Villa, when Newcastle players Lee Bowyerand Kieron Dyerfought each other on the pitch near the end of the match.
Norwich City went into the final game of their first Premiership campaign in a decade, knowing that victory at Fulham would confirm their survival, regardless of what happened to the three teams below them. But a 6-0 hammering at
Craven Cottagepushed survival out of Norwich's hands, and their relegation was confirmed by West Bromwich Albion's 2-0 win over Portsmouth.
Portsmouth confirmed their Premiership survival for a second successive campaign, though 16th place was a three-point slump on the previous campaign's final position. Survival was already confirmed by the final day of the season, and a 2-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion meant that their opponents had beaten the drop too.
Southampton's 27-year stay in the top flight ended on the final day of the season when they lost 2-1 at home to Manchester United at the end of a campaign which had seen
Paul Sturrock(sacked in August), Steve Wigley(sacked in November) and Harry Redknappoccupy the manager's seat. Relegation had looked inevitable for most of the 1990s, but the 2000s had brought a revival for Southampton which had seen them reach the FA Cup finaland finished eighth in the Premiership just two years before their luck finally ran out.
Tottenham head coach
Jacques Santinistepped down in October after just four months in charge, and his assistant Martin Joltook over first team duties. The improvement in relegation-threatened Tottenham's form was almost instant, as the North Londoners had climbed into the top half of the table by the New Year and Jol was Premiership Manager of the Month for December. They were in the hunt for a UEFA Cupplace right up to the last day of the season, but defeat meant that White Hart Lanewould be without European action for the sixth season running.
West Bromwich Albion
In late October, manager
Gary Megsonannounced that he would not be renewing his contract when it expired at the end of the season. Chairman Jeremy Peaceresponded by terminating Megson's contract on the spot, and appointed former player Bryan Robsonin his place. Albion were still bottom of the Premiership on Christmas Daywith just one win in the league, but victory over Portsmouth on the final day of the season made them the first team in Premiership history (and the first top division team since Sheffield United in the 1990-91 season) to avoid relegation after being bottom of the division on Christmas Day. However, survival was achieved with the worst record of any Premiership team to avoid relegation - a mere six wins and 34 points from 38 games. Robson then plunged into the transfer market in the close season in an attempt to build a squad that could stay up again.Earlier on 2004 Australian Open Women's Singleschampion Maria Sharapova attended a match against Manchester United.
Top goal scorers
Chelsea's title success
Chelsea completed their first season under the management of
José Mourinhowith only their second league title, and their first in 50 years. The success was completed with a Premiership record of 95 points (29 wins, 8 draws and 1 defeat) and a unique defensive record of just 15 league goals conceded. Key players in this triumph were goalkeeper Petr Čech, midfielders Frank Lampardand Claude Makélélé, defender John Terry, striker Eiður Guðjohnsenand young, nimble winger Arjen Robben. This was also the most expensive team ever created in England with an estimated 250 million pounds spent on players.
Also in contention
Although Chelsea led the Premiership virtually all season long, they faced stiff competition from eventual runners-up Arsenal and third-placed Manchester United—who also achieved Champions League qualification. The title seemed to be heading towards Highbury once again, after they continued their unbeaten run to 49 matches and were leading Chelsea by five points and Manchester United by eleven points. However on 24 October Arsenal's unbeaten run ended when they lost 2 - 0 to Manchester United at Old Trafford. Arsenal's form then dropped dramatically as Chelsea continued in great form and Manchester United kickstarted their campaign, at one stage going into second position after defeating Arsenal 4 - 2 at Highbury on 1 February (their first team home defeat since Leeds in 2003). However with Chelsea steamrolling the league with their powerful defensive style, United's form dipped after drawing at home to Blackburn and being defeated by Norwich City; this allowed Arsenal to pass United, taking second place.
The fourth Champions League place went to Everton, who had been among the relegation favourites after the early season sale of striker
Wayne Rooney(PFA Young Player of the Year) to Manchester United. Fifth-placed Liverpool would normally have qualified for the UEFA Cup, but eventually were allowed by UEFA to defend their Champions League title, despite finishing outside the top four. The next two teams, Bolton Wanderers and Middlesbrough, achieved UEFA Cup qualification as both FA Cup finalists and League Cup winner had qualified for the Champions League via their league position. Liverpool's entry into the Champions League did not affect either Bolton Wanderers or Boro's UEFA Cup entry. Bolton and Middlesbrough both achieved their best finishes in the Premiership to date.
On June 9, UEFA allowed Liverpool to defend their Champions League title, forfeiting their UEFA Cup slot given to the fifth placed team. They had to enter in the first qualifying round, where they defeated Welsh league champions TNS, and then in the next round defeated Lithuanian champions
FBK Kaunasbefore the start of the 2005-06 league season.
The relegation dog fight
Going into the final round of matches, no team was assured of relegation. In each of the last three weekends of the season, the team that was bottom of the table at the start of the weekend finished it outside the drop zone. The final round of the season on 15 May started with West Bromwich Albion on the bottom, Southampton and Crystal Palace one point clear, and Norwich City in the last safe spot and two points from the bottom. For the first time since the advent of the current Premier League in 1992-1993, no club was assured of relegation going into the final day. The final matchday was publicised by
Sky Sportsas 'Survival Sunday', with accompanying promotional material advertising the last matchday like a title fight or epic movie blockbuster.
West Brom, who had been bottom of the table and eight points from safety at Christmas, did their part by defeating Portsmouth at home 2-0. Norwich, the only side to have their fate completely in their own hands, lost 6-0 at Fulham and went down. Southampton lost 2-1 at home to Manchester United. Palace, away to Charlton, were leading 2-1 after 71 minutes, but with eight minutes to go, the Addicks'
Jonathan Fortuneequalised to relegate the Eagles back to The Championship. Thus, West Brom stayed up, and changed history, becoming the first club in Premiership history to avoid relegation after being bottom of the table at Christmas.
At the end of 90 minutes in all 4 matches, Sky cameras focused on West Brom's ground,
The Hawthorns, as confirmation of other results began to filter through. Once the realisation dawned on the players and fans that survival had been achieved, a mass pitch invasionwas sparked, with huge celebrations. The Portsmouth fans in the away end of the ground joined in the celebrations and party atmosphere—as through losing 2-0 to West Brom, they had 'helped' relegate arch-rivals Southampton. Also, the defeat itself mattered little to Portsmouth, as they would be unable to improve on their 16th position due to 15th-placed Blackburn Rovers' greater points tally.
18th place in the final Premiership table went to Crystal Palace, who drew 2-2 with Charlton Athletic on the final day of the season after being eight minutes away from safety. This made way for West Bromwich Albion's Premiership survival. 19th place went to Norwich City, whose fate was confirmed by a 6-0 hammering at Fulham on the final day—a result which underlined the frailty of their defence, which had leaked 77 goals in 38 Premiership games. Bottom place went to Southampton, who lost 2-1 at home to Manchester United and were relegated after 27 years in the top flight.
Sunderland, who finished top of the 2004-05 Coca-Cola League Championship, were the first team to secure promotion to the Premiership for the 2005-06 season. The second promotion place was secured on the final day of the season by Championship runners-up Wigan Athletic, in only their 27th season of league football. The third promotion place went to West Ham United, who defeated Preston North End in the Championship playoff final.
*Blackburn Rovers appointed Wales boss
Mark Hughesas Manager in September at the departure of Graeme Souness to Newcastle.
Claudio Ranieriwith UEFA Champions league winning coach, Jose Mourinho.
*Liverpool appointed Valencia's UEFA Cup winning coach
Rafael Benitezas successor to Gerard Houllier.
*Manchester City parted with manager
Kevin Keeganin late March and replaced him with first team coach, Stuart Pearce.
*Newcastle United sacked manager
Sir Bobby Robsonat the end of August and replaced him with Blackburn's Graeme Souness.
*Portsmouth parted company with
Harry Redknappin November and replaced him with executive director Velimir Zajec. He was also replaced by Alain Perrinin March.
*Southampton parted company with
Paul Sturrockafter less than 6 months and was replaced by Steve Wigley. Wigley was sacked in November and was replaced by Harry Redknapp.
*Tottenham Hotspur appointed former French national coach,
Jacques Santinias the new manager in the pre-season. He left in November citing personal problems and was replaced by assistant Martin Jol.
*West Bromwich Albion sacked boss
Gary Megsonin October and replaced him with former England skipper and Manchester United legend Bryan Robson.
2004-05 in English football Arsenal FC 2004-05 Season Reviewand reviews of all 20 clubs will be finished eventually.
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