The Football League 1990-91

The Football League 1990-91

Statistics of The Football League in season 1990/1991.


First Division

Arsenal took their second league title in three seasons despite a season during which it often looked as though the good points would be outnumbered by the bad points. A player brawl in a league fixture against Manchester United in October saw Arsenal have two points deducted, and a few weeks later captain Tony Adams was given a four-month prison sentence for drink-driving (he ended up serving 8 weeks). But Arsenal managed to keep up a great run of form throughout the season and were crowned league champions having lost just one league game all season long.

Runners-up spot was achieved by Liverpool, who had led the table for much of the first half of the season but had been shell-shocked in February by the sudden resignation of manager Kenny Dalglish. Rangers boss Graeme Souness was brought in as his successor but was unable to bring a major trophy to Anfield. Third place in the league went to Crystal Palace, who occupied their highest-ever finish, but were denied qualification for the UEFA Cup due to Liverpool being readmitted to European competition a year earlier than anticipated.

Newly promoted Leeds United had a good season back in the First Division as they finished fourth but never really looked like challenging for the title. They did, however, reach the semi-finals of the League Cup, where they lost to Manchester United.

Down at the bottom end of the table, Derby County went down in bottom place with just five wins all season despite the 17 league goals of Welsh striker Dean Saunders, who was then sold to Liverpool. The final relegation place went to Sunderland on the last day of the season.

On 1 November, Everton had sacked manager Colin Harvey after three-and-a-half years at the helm. Manchester City's Howard Kendall returned to Everton for his second spell as manager, with Harvey returning as assistant.

15 November saw two First Division clubs appoint player-managers. Peter Reid, 34, stepped up to the manager's seat at Manchester City. Terry Butcher, still only 31, was recruited from Glasgow Rangers to take over from John Sillett at Coventry City, making him the youngest manager in the Football League.

Bobby Campbell quit his managerial duties at Chelsea at the end of his fourth season in charge, becoming personal assistant to chairman Ken Bates and handing over managerial duties to Ian Porterfield.

Jimmy Ryan was sacked by Luton Town just after achieving a second successive last-day escape from relegation. He was replaced by David Pleat, who had previously been at Kenilworth Road from 1978 to 1986.

Jozef Venglos left Aston Villa after one season to be succeeded by Sheffield Wednesday's Ron Atkinson, who himself was succeeded by Trevor Francis.

Queen's Park Rangers sacked Don Howe at the end of the season, replacing him with Gerry Francis from Bristol Rovers.

Southampton's Chris Nicholl was dismissed at the end of his sixth season with the club, being replaced by Crystal Palace coach Ian Branfoot.

Second Division

Joe Royle's cavalier Oldham Athletic side dramatically won the Second Division championship - an injury-time penalty completing a 3-2 come-from-behind win against Sheffield Wednesday in their final game, edging them the title from previous leaders West Ham United, who would be promoted as runners-up. Joining them were League Cup winners Sheffield Wednesday, who finished in third place. Neil Warnock guided Notts County to a second successive victory in the promotion playoffs.

Hull City struggled throughout the 1990-91 season and not even the appointment of new manager Terry Dolan could save their Second Division status. They were joined on the last day of the season by West Bromwich Albion, who went down to the Third Division for the first time in their history. Leicester City were saved from suffering the same humiliation by winning their final game of the season. Albion had sacked player-manager Brian Talbot in January following an FA Cup exit at the hands of non-league Woking, but his successor Bobby Gould was unable to save Albion from the dreaded drop.

Newly-promoted Bristol Rovers attained their highest league finish in years, finishing 13th. But manager Gerry Francis then resigned to take over at Queen's Park Rangers, handing over the reins to Martin Dobson, who was just weeks into his job as Northwich Victoria manager.

Jim Smith left Newcastle United in March after more than two years at the helm, making a swift return to management with Portsmouth as successor to Frank Burrows, while Ossie Ardiles was the new man in charge on Tyneside after leaving Swindon Town. 33-year-old Glenn Hoddle was named as Swindon's new manager.

Colin Todd departed from Middlesbrough after their failure to succeed in the playoffs, being replaced by Lennie Lawrence who called time on nine years with Charlton Athletic, who appointed Alan Curbishley and Steve Gritt as joint player-managers.

David Pleat was sacked by Leicester City in February, with Gordon Lee taking charge until the end of the season and being replaced by Brian Little.

Third Division

Champions Cambridge United, runners-up Southend United and third-placed Grimsby Town occupied the automatic promotion places and all achieved second successive promotions. The fourth promotion place went to playoff winners Tranmere Rovers, who ended a 53-year absence from the Second Division and made it clear they were prepared to stay there when they signed ex-Liverpool striker John Aldridge.

Going down to the Fourth Division were Crewe Alexandra, Rotherham United and Mansfield Town.

Dave Mackay was sacked by Birmingham City in January, with Lou Macari taking over until the end of the season before replacing Alan Ball at Stoke City. Birmingham then turned to Exeter's Terry Cooper, who replaced him with Alan Ball.

Reading sacked Ian Porterfield after 18 months in charge, and signed Newcastle striker Mark McGhee as player-manager.

Leyton Orient manager Frank Clark stepped up to the role of Managing Director at the end of the season, with Peter Eustace being appointed Head Coach.

Fourth Division

Brian Little's Darlington won the Fourth Division championship to earn a second successive promotion, while the other four promotion places went to Stockport County, Hartlepool United, Peterborough United and Torquay United. Torquay were the eventual winners, beating Blackpool in a penalty shootout.

Wrexham finished bottom of the league for the first time since 1965-66, but due to League expansion they avoided relegation into the Conference.

Brian Little left Darlington just after their promotion success, taking over at Leicester City, leaving Frank Gray to pick up the pieces at the Feethams.

Manager Cyril Knowles departed from Hartlepool on sick leave three months before their promotion, with player-coach Alan Murray overseeing the final stages of the campaign. Murray took over on a permanent basis when Knowles confirmed that he would be unable to return to the club following brain surgery.

League Standings

=First Division=

=Fourth Division=

ee also

*1990-91 in English football


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