1990–91 in English football

1990–91 in English football

The 1990-91 season was the 111th season of competitive football in England.

Overview

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, the first time the system had been used in the Football League.

Wrexham finished bottom of the league but 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.

FA Cup

Tottenham Hotspur compensated for a slump in form during the second half of the 1990-91 league campaign by beating Nottingham Forest 2-1 in the F.A Cup final, although their triumph was overshadowed by a knee injury to star midfielder Paul Gascoigne in the opening 15 minutes. In the previous round at Wembley against arch-rivals Arsenal, Gascoigne had scored a tremendous free-kick in a surprise 3-1 win against the champions elect.

League Cup

Ron Atkinson's Sheffield Wednesday earned a shock 1-0 victory over his old club Manchester United thanks to a goal from John Sheridan - a self-confessed Manchester City supporter.

Biggest rise

Oldham Athletic won the Second Division championship to return to the First Division after a 68-year absence.

Biggest fall

West Bromwich Albion fell into the Third Division for the very first time, 11 years after reaching the UEFA Cup quarter finals and 12 years after missing the league championship by just two places.

League Tables

===First Division===
                             P   W  D  L   F   A   W  D  L   F   A Pts
 1. * ARSENAL (C)           38  15  4  0  51  10   9  9  1  23   8  83
 2. Liverpool               38  14  3  2  42  13   9  4  6  35  27  76
 3. Crystal Palace          38  11  6  2  26  17   9  3  7  24  24  69
 4. Leeds United            38  12  2  5  46  23   7  5  7  19  24  64
 5. Manchester City         38  12  3  4  35  25   5  8  6  29  28  62
 6. * Manchester United     38  11  4  4  34  17   5  8  6  24  28  59
 7. Wimbledon               38   8  6  5  28  22   6  8  5  25  24  56
 8. Nottingham Forest       38  11  4  4  42  21   3  8  8  23  29  54
 9. Everton                 38   9  5  5  26  15   4  7  8  24  31  51
10. Tottenham Hotspur       38   8  9  2  35  22   3  7  9  16  28  49
11. Chelsea                 38  10  6  3  33  25   3  4 12  25  44  49
12. Queen's Park Rangers    38   8  5  6  27  22   4  5 10  17  31  46
13. Sheffield United        38   9  3  7  23  23   4  4 11  13  32  46
14. Southampton             38   9  6  4  33  22   3  3 13  25  47  45
15. Norwich City            38   9  3  7  27  32   4  3 12  14  32  45
16. Coventry City           38  10  6  3  30  16   1  5 13  12  33  44
17. Aston Villa             38   7  9  3  29  25   2  5 12  17  33  41
18. Luton Town              38   7  5  7  22  18   3  2 14  20  43  37
19. SUNDERLAND (R)          38   6  6  7  15  16   2  4 13  23  44  34
20. DERBY COUNTY (R)        38   3  8  8  25  36   2  1 16  12  39  24

  • Arsenal deducted two points; Manchester United deducted one point.

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1hh row 1, cell 2 row 1, cell 3
row 2, cell 1 row 2, cell 2 row 2, cell 3

Second Division

                             P   W  D  L   F   A   W  D  L   F   A Pts
 1. OLDHAM ATHLETIC (P)     46  17  5  1  55  21   8  8  7  28  32  88
 2. WEST HAM UNITED (P)     46  15  6  2  41  18   9  9  5  19  16  87
 3. SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (P) 46  12 10  1  43  23  10  6  7  37  28  82
 4. NOTTS COUNTY (P)        46  14  4  5  45  28   9  7  7  31  27  80
 5. Millwall                46  11  6  6  43  28   9  7  7  27  23  73
 6. Brighton & Hove Albion  46  12  4  7  37  31   9  3 11  26  38  70
 7. Middlesbrough           46  12  4  7  36  17   8  5 10  30  30  69
 8. Barnsley                46  13  7  3  39  16   6  5 12  24  32  69
 9. Bristol City            46  14  5  4  44  28   6  2 15  24  43  67
10. Oxford United           46  10  9  4  41  29   4 10  9  28  37  61
11. Newcastle United        46   8 10  5  24  22   6  7 10  25  34  59
12. Wolverhampton Wanderers 46  11  6  6  45  35   2 13  8  18  28  58
13. Bristol Rovers          46  11  7  5  29  20   4  6 13  27  39  58
14. Ipswich Town            46   9  8  6  32  28   4 10  9  28  40  57
15. Port Vale               46  10  4  9  32  24   5  8 10  24  40  57
16. Charlton Athletic       46   8  7  8  27  25   5 10  8  30  36  56
17. Portsmouth              46  10  6  7  34  27   4  5 14  24  43  53
18. Plymouth Argyle         46  10 10  3  36  20   2  7 14  18  48  53
19. Blackburn Rovers        46   8  6  9  26  27   6  4 13  25  39  52
20. Watford                 46   5  8 10  24  32   7  7  9  21  27  51
21. Swindon Town            46   8  6  9  31  30   4  8 11  34  43  50
22. Leicester City          46  12  4  7  41  33   2  4 17  19  50  50
23. WEST BROMWICH ALBION (R)46   7 11  5  26  21   3  7 13  26  40  48
24. HULL CITY (R)           46   6 10  7  35  32   4  5 14  22  53  45

Third Division

                             P   W  D  L   F   A   W  D  L   F   A Pts
 1. CAMBRIDGE UNITED (P)    46  25  11 10 75  45                    86
 2. SOUTHEND UNITED (P)     46  13  6  4  34  23  13  1  9  33  28  85
 3. GRIMSBY TOWN (P)        46  16  3  4  42  13   8  8  7  24  21  83
 4. Bolton Wanderers        46  14  5  4  33  18  10  6  7  31  32  83
 5. TRANMERE ROVERS (P)     46  13  5  5  38  21  10  4  9  26  25  78
 6. Brentford               46  12  4  7  30  22   9  9  5  29  25  76
 7. Bury                    46  12  4  8  31  21   9  9  4  28  26  76
 8. Bradford City           46  13  3  7  36  22   7  7  9  26  32  70
 9. Bournemouth             46  14  6  3  37  20   5  7 11  21  38  70
10. Wigan Athletic          46  14  3  6  40  20   6  6 11  31  34  69
11. Huddersfield Town       46  13  3  7  37  23   5 10  8  20  28  67
12. Birmingham City         46   8  9  6  21  21   8  8  7  24  28  65
13. Leyton Orient           46  15  2  6  35  19   3  8 12  20  39  64
14. Stoke City              46   9  7  7  36  29   7  5 11  19  30  60
15. Reading                 46  11  5  7  34  28   6  3 14  19  38  59
16. Exeter City             46  12  6  5  35  16   4  3 16  23  36  57
17. Preston North End       46  11  5  7  33  29   4  6 13  21  38  56
18. Shrewsbury Town         46   8  7  8  29  22   6  3 14  32  46  52
19. Chester City            46  10  3 10  27  27   4  6 13  19  31  51
20. Swansea City            46   8  6  9  31  33   5  3 15  18  39  48
21. Fulham                  46   8  8  7  27  22   2  8 13  14  34  46
22. CREWE ALEXANDRA (R)     46   6  9  8  35  35   5  2 16  27  45  44
23. ROTHERHAM UNITED (R)    46   5 10  8  31  38   5  2 16  19  49  42
24. MANSFIELD TOWN (R)      46   5  8 10  23  27   3  6 14  19  36  38

Fourth Division

                             P   W  D  L   F   A   W  D  L   F   A Pts
 1. DARLINGTON (P)          46  13  8  2  36  14   9  9  5  32  24  83
 2. STOCKPORT COUNTY (P)    46  16  6  1  54  19   7  7  9  30  28  82
 3. HARTLEPOOL UNITED (P)   46  15  5  3  35  15   9  5  9  32  33  82
 4. PETERBOROUGH UNITED (P) 46  13  9  1  38  15   8  8  7  29  30  80
 5. Blackpool               46  17  3  3  55  17   6  7 10  23  30  79
 6. Burnley                 46  17  5  1  46  16   6  5 12  24  35  79
 7. TORQUAY UNITED (P)      46  14  7  2  37  13   4 11  8  27  34  72
 8. Scunthorpe United       46  17  4  2  51  20   3  7 13  20  42  71
 9. Scarborough             46  13  5  5  36  21   6  7 10  23  35  69
10. Northampton             46  14  5  4  34  21   4  8 11  23  37  67
11. Doncaster Rovers        46  12  5  6  36  22   5  9  9  20  24  65
12. Rochdale                46  10  9  4  29  22   5  8 10  21  31  62
13. Cardiff City            46  10  6  7  26  23   5  9  9  17  31  60
14. Lincoln City            46  10  7  6  32  27   4 10  9  18  34  59
15. Gillingham              46   9  9  5  35  27   3  9 11  22  33  54
16. Walsall                 46   7 12  4  25  17   5  5 13  23  34  53
17. Hereford United         46   9 10  4  32  19   4  4 15  21  39  53
18. Chesterfield            46   8 12  3  33  26   5  2 16  14  36  53
19. Maidstone United        46   9  5  9  42  34   4  7 12  24  37  51
20. Carlisle United         46  12  3  8  30  30   1  6 16  17  59  48
21. York City               46   8  6  9  21  23   3  7 13  24  34  46
22. Halifax Town            46   9  6  8  34  29   3  4 16  25  50  46
23. Aldershot               46   8  7  8  38  43   2  4 17  23  58  41
24. Wrexham                 46   8  7  8  33  34   2  3 18  15  40  40

Successful players

The PFA Player of the Year was Manchester United striker Mark Hughes, whose prolific goalscoring included two goals in United's Cup Winners Cup triumph over Barcelona.

The FWA Player of the Year was experienced Leeds United midfielder Gordon Strachan, who helped his newly promoted side reach a creditable fourth place in the First Division.

The PFA Young Player of the Year was Manchester United's 19-year-old winger Lee Sharpe, who collected a Cup Winners Cup medal in his first season as a regular player.

Welsh striker Dean Saunders scored 24 league goals for Derby County but couldn't save them from relegation and was sold to Liverpool for a British record fee of nearly £3million.

Tottenham's Gary Lineker had another great season and helped his side win the FA Cup to end their seven-year trophy drought.

Midfielder John Sheridan scored Sheffield Wednesday's winning goal in the Football League Cup final to end their 55-year trophy drought, and then helped them win promotion to the First Division.

Despite a succession of injuries, powerful Sunderland striker Marco Gabbiadini managed 12 goals in 28 games to earn himself a reputation as one of the league's top strikers, but couldn't save his side from relegation.

Halifax Town striker Steve Norris was the Football League's top goalscorer with 32 Fourth Division goals.

Successful managers

George Graham guided Arsenal to their second league title in three years after they lost just one out of 38 league games.

Alex Ferguson took Manchester United to glory in the European Cup Winners Cup in the first season back in Europe for English clubs after the Heysel Disaster.

Terry Venables ended Tottenham's seven-year trophy drought with an F.A Cup triumph at the expense of Nottingham Forest.

Joe Royle won the Second Division championship for Oldham Athletic to end their 68-year absence from the First Division.

Ron Atkinson took Sheffield Wednesday to glory in the League Cup and promotion to the First Division.

Brian Little achieved a second successive promotion with Darlington, who finished top of the Fourth Division a year after they had topped the Conference.

Neil Warnock guided Notts County to a unique second successive playoff triumph as they climbed from the Third Division to the First Division with back-to-back promotions.

John Beck completed back-to-back promotions with Cambridge United, who were Third Division champions and F.A Cup quarter finalists a year after being Fourth Division playoff winners.

Barry Fry took Barnet into the Football League as Conference champions.

John King guided Tranmere Rovers into the Second Division for the first time since the late 1930s.

European qualifiers

League champions Arsenal were England's first post-Heysel entrants for the European Cup.

Runners-up Liverpool and third-placed Crystal Palace would be England's representatives for the UEFA Cup 1991-92.

Holders Manchester United and F.A Cup winners Tottenham Hotspur qualified for the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 1991-92.

Significant Events

Dalglish cracks under the pressure

Kenny Dalglish resigned as Liverpool manager on 22 February 1991, blaming the pressures of the job on his decision to quit. He was replaced by Graeme Souness of Glasgow Rangers, but Souness was unable to stop Arsenal from beating Liverpool to the league title.

Arsenal and United penalised for brawl

Arsenal were deducted two points and Manchester United were deducted one point after a brawl between players on both sides in an October fixture at Old Trafford. But the blow didn't have much damage on either team, as Arsenal went on to win the league title and Manchester United won the Cup Winners Cup.

Graham's gunners grab title

Despite the two-point deduction imposed for the Old Trafford fracas, and the absence of captain Tony Adams for eight weeks in mid-season while he served a prison sentence for drink-driving, Arsenal cruised to the league title with a seven-point margin over runners-up Liverpool and just one defeat on the way.

Gazza's injury agony sours Tottenham's joy

Paul Gascoigne suffered a serious knee injury in Tottenham's victorious F.A Cup final clash with Nottingham Forest, putting on hold a proposed transfer to Lazio of Italy. He was ruled out for the entire 1991-92 season.

Tottenham's cup triumph capped a great season for London clubs with Arsenal as league champions, Tottenham as F.A Cup winners, West Ham winning promotion to the First Division while Crystal Palace finished third in the top tier - their highest finish ever.

York plunged into mourning by Longhurst tragedy

York City striker David Longhurst, 24, collapsed and died on 8 September in a Fourth Division fixture at Bootham Crescent. The inquest revealed that he suffered from a rare heart condition.

Liverpool readmitted to Europe

Liverpool were re-admitted to European competition, having served an extra year after the ban on English clubs in Europe arising from the Heysel Disaster was lifted one year early - Crystal Palace were the club who lost out through this. They qualified for the UEFA Cup as league runners-up.

Butcher moves into management

On 15 November, a month before his 32nd birthday, Rangers and England defender Terry Butcher was appointed player-manager of Coventry City to replace John Sillett. On the same day, 34-year-old Peter Reid replaced Howard Kendall (who had returned to Everton) as manager of Manchester City.

Wednesday's trophy drought ends after 55 years

Sheffield Wednesday won the League Cup for the first time in their history with a 1-0 win over Manchester United - manager Ron Atkinson's old club. John Sheridan, the scorer of their winning goal, was a self-confessed Manchester United supporter. It was also Wednesday's first major trophy for 55 years.

Aldershot saved by 19-year-old investor

Aldershot were saved from closure in August 1990 after 19-year-old "property developer" Spencer Trethewy signed an affadavit for around £200,000 which saw off a winding-up order; however, other parties paid the money on his behalf, and within three months he was dismissed from the club's board of directors when he failed to repay the sums he had borrowed.

Albion sink to their lowest ebb

West Bromwich Albion were relegated to the Third Division for the first time in their history, little over a decade after they had almost won the league title. This disappointment came at the end of a season during which they had been knocked out of the F.A Cup by non-league Woking.

Sheringham tops the goalscoring charts

Millwall striker Teddy Sheringham was the leading goalscorer in England with 38 goals in all competitions, but was put on the transfer list after his club failed to navigate the Second Division playoffs. After the season was over, he joined Nottingham Forest in a £2million deal.

Diary of the season

1 August 1990 - The Football League confirms that it will revert to a 22-club First Division for the 1990-91 season, while total league membership will be increased to 94 clubs for the 1992-93 season, with the Second, Third and Fourth Divisions all having 24 clubs each by then.

31 July 1990 - Aldershot are wound up in the High Court, condemned as "hopelessly insolvent" with debts of £495,000.

7 August 1990 - Aldershot are saved from closure by a rescue package put together by 19-year-old property developer Spencer Trethewy.

14 August 1990 - Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, 39, finally retires from playing.

19 August 1990 - Liverpool and Manchester United share the Charity Shield after a 1-1 draw at Wembley.

8 September 1990 - York City striker David Longhurst, 24, collapses and dies from a heart attack during a Fourth Division fixture at Bootham Crescent.

5 October 1990 - Peter Taylor, former managerial partner of Brian Clough, dies in the Canary Islands aged 62 after a long illness.

31 October 1990 - Everton sack manager Colin Harvey after their worst start to a league season leaves them third from bottom in the First Division.

7 November 1990 - Howard Kendall leaves Manchester City to begin his second spell as Everton manager. Colin Harvey, sacked as manager a week earlier, rejoins the club as Kendall's assistant in the manager-coach partnership that previously ran from 1981 to 1987.

14 November 1990 - Coventry City sack manager John Sillett after four-and-a-half years in charge.

15 November 1990 - Manchester City appoint 34-year-old midfielder Peter Reid as their new player-manager. Coventry City agree a 350,000 deal with Rangers to appoint 31-year-old centre-back Terry Butcher as their new manager.

28 November 1990 - 19-year-old winger Lee Sharpe scores a hat-trick for Manchester United in their 6-2 win at Arsenal in the fourth round of the League Cup final.

29 November 1990 - Cardiff-born Ryan Giggs, said to be the finest prospect in British football since George Best, signs a professional contract with Manchester United on his 17th birthday.

19 December 1990 - Arsenal captain Tony Adams is sentenced to 4 months in prison and banned from driving for 2 years after being found guilty of drink-driving relating to a road accident on 6 May this year.

22 December 1990 - Sheffield United finally win a First Division game at the 18th attempt, but remain bottom of the table.

23 December 1990 - Arsenal create a club record 18-match unbeaten start to the league season by drawing 0-0 at Aston Villa, but fail to overhaul Liverpool at the top of the table.

9 January 1991 - West Bromwich Albion sack manager Brian Talbot after their 4-2 home defeat against non-league Woking in the FA Cup Third Round. Albion are also in danger of being relegated to the Third Division for the first time in their history.

15 January 1991 - Chelsea are fined £105,000 by the Football Association for making illegal payments to players.

23 January 1991 - Mark Hughes scores a hat-trick as Manchester United beat Southampton 3-2 in the League Cup quarter-final.

30 January 1991 - Liverpool sign 30-year-old Coventry City striker David Speedie for £800,000.

7 February 1991 - Lou Macari, who quit as West Ham United manager last season to concentrate on clearing his name in connection with financial irregularities at Swindon Town, makes his return to football management with Birmingham City. He replaces Dave Mackay as manager of the mid table Third Division club, who were in the First Division just five years ago.

15 February 1991 - Tony Adams is released from prison after serving half of his 4-month prison sentence for drink-driving offences.

21 February 1991 - Wimbledon pay Conference leaders Barnet £250,000 for striker Andy Clarke, breaking the record fee for a non-league player.

22 February 1991 - Kenny Dalglish shocks the football world by announcing his resignation as Liverpool manager. Long-serving coach Ronnie Moran, 54, is appointed caretaker manager but insists that he does not want the job on a permanent basis.

2 March 1991 - Ryan Giggs makes his professional debut for Manchester United in their 2-0 home defeat against Everton in the Third Division.

26 March 1991 - Jim Smith resigns after two-and-a-half years as manager of Newcastle United, whose Second Division promotion challenge is collapsing.

16 April 1991 - Graeme Souness is named as Liverpool's new manager, departing from Glasgow Rangers where he is succeeded by Walter Smith.

21 April 1991 - Sheffield Wednesday, chasing promotion to the First Division, achieve a shock 1-0 win over Manchester United in the Football League Cup Final to end their 56-year trophy drought.

4 May 1991 - Barnet seal promotion to the Football League by clinching the Conference title.

6 May 1991 - Arsenal are confirmed First Division champions with a 3-1 home win over Manchester United, with a 2-1 defeat by Nottingham Forest ending Liverpool's hopes of giving Graeme Souness a dream return to the club he is now serving as manager.

15 May 1991 - Manchester United mark a stylish return to European football by English clubs with a 2-1 win over Barcelona in the European Cup Winners' Cup final in Rotterdam. Mark Hughes scores both goals.

18 May 1991 - Paul Gascoigne suffers cruciate knee ligament damage in Tottenham Hotspur's 2-1 FA Cup final victory over Nottingham Forest, meaning that he is likely to miss most or even all of next season (and possibly even Euro 92). His proposed £8.5million move to Italian club Lazio is put on hold.

20 May 1991 - Tottenham Hotspur are rumoured to be on the brink of going into receivership with £20million debts.

22 May 1991 - English football is plunged into mourning by the death of former Blackpool and England centre forward Stan Mortensen, who dies four days before what would have been his 70th birthday.

31 May 1991 - Ron Atkinson, whose Sheffield Wednesday side won the League Cup and promotion to the First Division this season, rejects an offer to succeed Jozef Venglos as manager of Aston Villa.

5 June 1991 - Ron Atkinson resigns as manager of Sheffield Wednesday, sparking rumours that he could be about to go back on his word and take over at Aston Villa.

7 June 1991 - Ron Atkinson accepts an improved offer from Aston Villa to become their new manager.

11 June 1991 - Ian Branfoot is named as the new manager of Southampton as successor to Chris Nicholl.

28 June 1991 - 17 of the 22 clubs competing in next season's First Division sign a contract to break away from the Football League if the Football Association's plan to form a new Premier League fails.

National team

The England national football team had a successful season, winning a mini-tournament against the CIS and Argentina, progressing steadily in qualification for the 1992 UEFA European Championship and conducting a tour to South-East Asia and Oceania in which they won all four games.

Asian tour




Deaths

  • Kevin Durham, 29, Barnet striker who died of a heart attack just weeks after helping his club win promotion to the Football League.
  • Robin Friday, 38, popular centre forward with Reading and Cardiff City during the 1970s, was found dead at his London flat on Christmas Eve 1990. He had suffered a heart attack.
  • David Longhurst, 25, York City striker, collapsed and died of a heart attack on 8 September during a Fourth Division fixture at Bootham Crescent.
  • Joe Mercer, 76, former England player, died on his birthday after suffering a stroke. Was manager of Manchester City when they won four trophies in three seasons starting in 1968.
  • Stan Mortensen, 69, former Blackpool and England striker who was one of the league's most exciting strikers in the immediate post-war years. Scored a hat-trick in the 1953 FA Cup final, to date the only player to do so.
  • Peter Taylor, 62, long-term assistant manager to Brian Clough who helped him win the league championship with Derby County in 1972. He later returned to Derby as manager but was sacked in 1984 after their relegation to the Third Division.

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