1990–91 in English football
The 1990–91 season was the 111th season of competitive football in England.
Diary of the seasonEdit
19 July 1990 - England striker Mark Hateley ends six years overseas and joins Scottish league champions Rangers in a £1million move from AS Monaco. He had played on the continent since his move from Portsmouth to AC Milan in 1984.
31 July 1990 - Aldershot F.C. in the Fourth Division are wound up in the High Court, condemned as "hopelessly insolvent" with debts of nearly £500,000 by the Official Receiver.
1 August 1990 –
- - The Football League confirms that it will revert to a 22-club First Division for the 1991–92 season, while total league membership will be increased to 94 clubs for the 1992–93 season, with the Second, Third and Fourth Divisions each having 24 clubs.
- - Sheffield Wednesday sell striker Dalian Atkinson to Real Sociedad of Spain for £1million, where he will be playing alongside the former Liverpool striker John Aldridge. Long-serving Manchester United defender Mike Duxbury joins Blackburn Rovers on a free transfer.
7 August 1990 – Aldershot are saved from closure by a £200,000 rescue package put together by 19-year-old property developer Spencer Trethewy, which means that they will be able to start the new Football League season.
18 August 1990 – Liverpool and Manchester United share the Charity Shield after a 1–1 draw at Wembley.
23 August 1990 – Oldham Athletic pay a club record £460,000 for Nottingham Forest striker David Currie. Leeds United are warned that they face expulsion from the Football League if measures aimed by the Football Association at curbing incidents of hooliganism involving the club's fans fail.
25 August 1990 – Liverpool begin their defence of the First Division title with a 3–1 away win against recently promoted Sheffield United.Arsenal begin their challenge for a second league title in three seasons by beating Wimbledon 3-0 at Plough Lane. Leeds United enjoy a fine First Division comeback with a 3-2 away win over Everton. Key games on the opening day of the Second Division campaign include a 4-2 home win over Blackburn Rovers for newly promoted Bristol City and Oxford United's 5-2 home win over Port Vale. In the Fourth Division, Walsall draw 2-2 with Torquay United in their first game at the new Bescot Stadium.
28 August 1990 - Manchester United and Leeds United meet for the first time since April 1982, and battle out a goalless draw at Elland Road in the First Division - a repeat of the last clash between the two sides.
31 August 1990 – The first month of the English league season ends with Arsenal and Liverpool sharing the lead in the First Division after two games. The Second Division leaders are Oldham Athletic.
1 September 1990 – Newly promoted First Division side Sunderland achieve a shock 2–1 league win over FA Cup holders Manchester United at Roker Park. Liverpool's 3-1 home win over Aston Villa leaves them with the only 100% record in the First Division after three games. Leeds go second with a 3-0 home win over Norwich City. Everton's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City at Maine Road leaves with without a point from their opening three games. There are victories in the Second Division for promotion favourites Millwall, Sheffield Wednesday, Oldham and West Ham.
8 September 1990 - Liverpool extend their winning start to the season to four games with a 2-1 away win over Wimbledon. Mark Robins is the star of the show for Manchester United once again, scoring twice in a 3-1 home win over QPR. Crystal Palace go second with a 3-0 win at Norwich. Paul Gascoigne scores a hat-trick for Tottenham in their 3-0 home win over Derby. Everton claim their first point of the season with a 1-1 draw at home to Arsenal. Oldham have a 100% record after four games, remaining top of the Second Division with a 1-0 win at Charlton.
15 September 1990 - Arsenal keep up the pressure on Liverpool with a 4-1 home win over Chelsea, as do Tottenham with a 2-0 win at Leeds. Oldham make it five wins in a row in the Second Division by beating Oxford 3-0 at Boundary Park.
18 September 1990 - Oldham drop points for the first time this season with a 1-1 draw at home to Charlton, who claim their first point of the season in the process.
22 September 1990 - Liverpool extend their winning start to the season to six games by winning the Merseyside derby 3-2 at Goodison Park. Arsenal keep up the pressure and hold onto second place with a 2-0 win at Nottingham Forest. Oldham remain top of the Second Division with a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough at Ayresome Park. Swindon Town draw level with the top three by beating local rivals Oxford 4-2 at the Manor Ground.
26 September 1990 – Paul Gascoigne scores four goals for Tottenham in their 5–0 win over Hartlepool United (managed by former Tottenham defender Cyril Knowles) in the League Cup second round first leg at White Hart Lane.
29 September 1990 - Liverpool's 1-0 win over Sunderland at Roker Park gives them a 100% record after seven games, and they extend their lead to six points after Arsenal are held to a 2-2 draw at Leeds. Tottenham and Crystal Palace are level on points with George Graham's men. Manchester United's title hopes are dented when a Stuart Pearce goal gives Nottingham Forest a 1-0 win at Old Trafford. Luton climb to sixth place with a 3-1 win over Norwich at Carrow Road. Sheffield United and Derby occupy the bottom places, both winless after seven games. Oldham remain top of the Second Division despite being held to a goalless draw at West Bromwich Albion.
30 September 1990 – Liverpool, with a 100% record after seven games, are First Division leaders by six points at the end of September. The bottom two places are occupied by Sheffield United and Derby County, who have both yet to win a league game this season. In the Second Division, Oldham Athletic lead the way with 20 points from their opening eight games. The other two automatic promotion places are occupied by Sheffield Wednesday and Notts County, and the playoff zone is occupied by West Ham United, Bristol City (in contention for a second successive promotion), Swindon Town and Brighton.
6 October 1990 – In the biggest Second Division win of the season, West Ham United beat Hull City 7–1 at Upton Park.Wolves boost their hopes of a third promotion in four seasons by beating Bristol City 4-0 at home, with Steve Bull scoring a hat-trick. In the First Division, Southampton and Chelsea draw 3-3 in a thrilling match at The Dell. Liverpool make it eight wins in a row by beating Derby 2-0 at Anfield, while Arsenal keep the gap between themselves and the leaders at six points by beating Norwich 2-0 at Highbury.
7 October 1990 - The pressure mounts on Everton manager Colin Harvey after a 3-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest leaves his side third from bottom in the First Division after just one win and five points from their opening eight games.
20 October 1990 – 21 of the 22 players on the pitch brawl in Arsenal's 1–0 league win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. In their ninth league game of the season, Liverpool drop points for the first time when Norwich City hold them to a 1–1 draw at Carrow Road. The gap between first and second place is cut to four points as a result. Tottenham keep up the pressure with a 4-0 home win over Sheffield United, with Paul Walsh scoring a hat-trick. The bottom two clubs are still winless after nine games.
24 October 1990 - Aston Villa beat Italian favourites Inter Milan 2-0 at Villa Park in the UEFA Cup second round first leg. In the Second Division, Newcastle's promotion hopes are hit by a 3-1 home defeat to struggling Charlton.
27 October 1990 – The Manchester derby at Maine Road ends in a 3–3 draw between City and United. Liverpool return to their winning ways with a 2-0 home win over Chelsea. Arsenal keep up the pressure with a 1-0 home win over Sunderland at Highbury, as do Tottenham with a 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest, and Crystal Palace with a thrilling 4-3 home win over Wimbledon. The top four in the First Division are all unbeaten after 10 games, as are the Second Division's top two clubs Oldham and West Ham after 14 games, and Fourth Division leaders Torquay after 13 games.
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. Below them are Derby County and winless Sheffield United, while Liverpool remain top with nine wins from their opening 10 games. Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace are their nearest contenders, and the top four are all still undefeated in the league. The Second Division promotion race is heating up, with Oldham Athletic still top of the table and West Ham United having crept up to second place. Sheffield Wednesday occupy the third and final automatic promotion place. Millwall, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Barnsley and Middlesbrough have all climbed into the playoff zone this month. Charlton Athletic's are in real danger of a second successive relegation as they occupy second from bottom place in the Second Division with eight defeats from their opening 13 games. The Football League Cup third round action includes a Mick Harford hat-trick for Derby in a 6-0 home win over his old club Sunderland. Manchester United beat Liverpool 3-1 at Old Trafford. Nottingham Forest keep their hopes of a third successive League Cup triumph alive with a 2-1 win at Plymouth.
1 November 1990 – Spencer Trethewy is dismissed from the Aldershot board of directors just three months after saving the club from closure, after it is revealed that he was unable to pay back the £200,000 he borrowed to keep the Hampshire based club afloat.
3 November 1990 - Crystal Palace suffer their first league defeat of the season when they lose 2-0 to Manchester United at Old Trafford. Derby beat Luton 2-1 to make it back-to-back victories in a boost to their survival hopes. Managerless Everton beat QPR 3-0 at Goodison Park.
4 November 1990 - Tottenham's unbeaten league start ends and their title hopes are hit by a major blow when they lose 3-1 at home to Liverpool, who maintain a four-point lead over their nearest challengers Arsenal, while third placed Tottenham are now nine points off the top.
7 November 1990 – Howard Kendall leaves Manchester City to begin his second spell as Everton manager. 34-year-old midfielder Peter Reid is put in temporary charge of Manchester City. Aston Villa's UEFA Cup hopes are ended when Inter Milan overturn a 2-0 Villa lead in the UEFA Cup second round second leg and win 3-0 in the San Siro. Manchester United go through to the quarter-finals of the European Cup Winners' Cup by completing a 5-0 aggregate win over Wrexham.
10 November 1990 - Liverpool extend their lead at the top of the First Division to six points with a 4-0 home win over Luton, while Arsenal can only manage a goalless draw with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Tottenham keep their title hopes alive with a 4-2 home win over Wimbledon. Howard Kendall's return to Everton begins with a goalless draw against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, which keeps Everton in 17th place and means that their hosts are still bottom of the table and winless after 12 games. Derby hold Manchester United to a goalless draw at the Baseball Ground but miss the chance to climb out of the relegation zone.
11 November 1990 - Leeds go fifth in the First Division with a 3-2 away win over Manchester City.
12 November 1990 – Arsenal are deducted two points and Manchester United lose one point as punishment for last month's player brawl, which increases Liverpool's lead at the top to eight points.
14 November 1990 - Coventry City, 14th in the First Division and on course for their lowest league finish in five years, sack manager John Sillett after more than four years in charge. The only major action of the day is a 1-1 draw between England and the Republic of Ireland in a Euro 92 qualifier at Lansdowne Road.
15 November 1990 - Peter Reid is appointed player-manager of Manchester City on a permanent basis. Terry Butcher returns to England after more than four years with Rangers to become player-manager at Coventry City. 31-year-old Butcher, who was released from his Rangers contract for a fee of £350,000, is the youngest manager in all four divisions of the English league.
17 November 1990 - The first round of the FA Cup is contested. Bury, Reading and Scarborough are all eliminated by non-league opposition. In the First Division, Terry Butcher begins his managerial career with a 1-0 defeat at home to Liverpool, while second placed Arsenal beat Southampton 4-0 to keep up the pressure on the leaders. Sheffield United remain winless and bottom of the table after losing 2-0 to Manchester United at Old Trafford.
27 November 1990 - Liverpool sign 19-year-old midfielder Don Hutchison from Fourth Division Hartlepool United for £175,000. Second Division bottom club Watford sack manager Colin Lee after eight months in charge.
28 November 1990 - Manchester United beat Arsenal 6-2 at Highbury in a League Cup fourth round tie, in which 19-year-old winger Lee Sharpe scores a hat-trick. It is Arsenal's first competitive defeat of the season. Nottingham Forest's hopes of three League Cup triumphs in a row are ended when they lose 5-4 to Coventry at Highfield Road, with Kevin Gallacher scoring a hat-trick for the winners and Nigel Clough scoring a hat-trick for the losers.
29 November 1990 - Manchester United offer a professional contract to trainee winger Ryan Giggs on his 17th birthday. Giggs, who was born in Cardiff but has lived in Manchester for most of his life, is widely regarded in Old Trafford circles as the finest prospect in English football since George Best.
30 November 1990 – Liverpool remain unbeaten and top of the First Division as November draws to a close, four points ahead of an Arsenal side who are also unbeaten. Sheffield United are still looking for their first league win of the season after 14 games, while Derby County have climbed out of the relegation zone at the expense of Queens Park Rangers. In the Second Division, West Ham United have taken over from Oldham Athletic as Second Division leaders, while Sheffield Wednesday occupy third place. The playoff zone is occupied by Middlesbrough, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Millwall and Notts County. Newly promoted Bristol Rovers stand just two points outside the playoff zone in 10th place, sparking hopes that manager Gerry Francis could soon deliver First Division football to the club for the first time ever.
1 December 1990 - Sheffield United are still looking for a league win 15 games into the season, with just four points to their name, after losing 2-1 at Aston Villa, while Derby's upswing continues and they climb to 14th place with a 2-1 win at Sunderland, who stand 16th. A Lee Sharpe goal gives Manchester United a 1-0 win at Everton, United's first win at Goodison Park since January 1982. There is thrilling action in the Second Division when a 5-4 win for the hosts at Filbert Street sees David Kelly score a hat-trick for Leicester and Micky Quinn score a hat-trick for Newcastle. The result helps lift Leicester clear of the relegation zone, while Newcastle are now 16th in the Second Division and six points adrift of the playoffs, mounting the pressure on manager Jim Smith who had almost delivered Newcastle promotion last season. West Ham remain top of the Second Division with a 3-1 home win over West Bromwich Albion, Port Vale close in on the playoffs with a 5-1 home win over Plymouth, Oldham retain second place with a 6-1 home win over Brighton, and Middlesbrough go third win a 3-0 home win over Hull.
8 December 1990 - Heavy snow causes many Football League and FA Cup fixtures to be postponed, but a decent amount of matches in the less seriously affected areas go ahead. Arsenal miss the chance to go ahead at the top of the table on goal difference when they are held to a 1-1 draw at Luton. Tottenham draw 3-3 at home to Sunderland. The first match between Manchester United and Leeds United at Old Trafford for nearly a decade ends in a 1-1 draw. Everton increase Coventry's relegation worries and boost their own chances of staying clear of relegation with a 1-0 win at Goodison Park. West Ham remain firmly in the lead at the top of the Second Division with a 1-0 win at struggling Portsmouth.
15 December 1990 - Liverpool are four points ahead at the top of the First Division, with a game in hand, after beating Sheffield United 2-0 to leave their hosts winless and still with only four points to their name so far this season, while Arsenal are held to a 2-2 draw at home to Wimbledon. A 10-goal thriller at the Baseball Ground sees Chelsea beat Derby 6-4. QPR remain second from bottom with a 2-1 defeat at home to Nottingham Forest.
19 December 1990 - Arsenal captain Tony Adams is sentenced to four months in prison for drink-driving after being more than three times over the legal alcohol limit when he crashed his car in Southend-on-Sea on 6 May this year. Adams, 24, is also fined £500 and banned from driving for two years.
21 December 1990 - Oldham go top of the Second Division on goal difference with a 5-3 home win over Plymouth.
22 December 1990 – Sheffield United beat Nottingham Forest to win their first First Division game of the season at the seventeenth attempt, but remain bottom of the table. Liverpool remain comfortably in the lead at the top of the table with a 3-2 home win over Southampton. Manchester United win 3-1 at Wimbledon. West Ham miss out on the chance to return to the top of the Second Division with a 1-0 defeat at Barnsley.
23 December 1990 - The last matches before Christmas are played. Arsenal extend their unbeaten start to the season to 18 games with a goalless draw at Aston Villa, although Liverpool are still six points ahead of them and have a game in hand. QPR miss the chance to climb out of the relegation zone when Derby hold them to a 1-1 draw at the Baseball Ground. Leeds hold on to fifth place with a 1-0 win over Sunderland at Roker Park. Three players are sent off in a goalless draw between Leicester and Watford at Filbert Street. In the Third Division, Brentford boost their hopes of winning promotion in Phil Holder's first season in management by beating Wigan Athletic 1-0 at Griffin Park. In the Fourth Division, Carlisle United keep their playoff hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Blackpool, who are now 18th in the table.
26 December 1990 - The Boxing Day action in the First Division sees leaders Liverpool held to a 1-1 draw by QPR at Loftus Road, allowing Arsenal to cut their lead to four points (with a game in hand) by beating Derby 3-0 at Highbury. Coventry boost their survival bid with a 2-0 home win over Tottenham. Crystal Palace remain in the hunt for the title with a 2-1 home win over Sunderland. Leeds go fourth with a 4-1 home win over Chelsea. Sheffield United make it back-to-back victories by winning 1-0 at Luton. Manchester United beat Norwich City 3-0 at Old Trafford, ending Dave Stringer's team's run of five victories in their previous clashes between the two sides. West Ham go back to the top of the Second Division with a 2-0 home win over Oldham. Bristol City beat Portsmouth 4-1 to move to the brink of the playoff zone and boost their chances of a second successive promotion, while the bottom two of Hull and Oxford draw 3-3 at Boothferry Park.
29 December 1990 - Arsenal cut Liverpool's lead of the First Division to a single point by beating Sheffield United 4-1 at Highbury, although Kenny Dalglish's men still have two games in hand. Leeds go third with a 3-0 home win over Wimbledon. Coventry, Everton, QPR and Southampton all claim victories in their fight to avoid relegation. There is no shortage of excitement in the Second Division, including Oxford climbing five places off the bottom of the table with a 3-1 win over Blackburn at Ewood Park. Ipswich and Charlton draw 4-4 at Portman Road. Newcastle's frustrating season continues with a 2-0 home defeat to Notts County, which leaves them rooted in the bottom half of the table.
30 December 1990 - The last fixture of 1990 sees Liverpool lose 1-0 to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, which boosts Steve Coppell's side's hopes of winning their first ever major trophy in the shape of the league title.
31 December 1990 – The year ends with Arsenal, still unbeaten but having had two points deducted, one point behind of Liverpool at the top of the First Division. Crystal Palace and Leeds United occupy third and fourth respectively, while Sheffield United remain bottom of the table and Sunderland have slipped into the bottom two. West Ham United stand top of the Second Division, followed in second place by Oldham Athletic and in third place by Sheffield Wednesday. Middlesbrough, Notts County, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Bristol City occupy the playoff zone. Newcastle United, who began the season among the favourites for promotion, occupy a lowly 16th place and are just four points above the relegation zone that threatens them with Third Division football for the first time.
1 January 1991 - The new year begins with Paul Gascoigne being sent off in Tottenham's 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester United. Everton's resurgence under Howard Kendall continues with a 2-1 win at Chelsea. Sheffield United make it three wins from four games but remain bottom of the table with a 1-0 home win over QPR. The biggest drama in the Second Division comes at Fratton Park, where Portsmouth boost their survival hopes with a 5-1 home win over bottom club Hull City.
5 January 1991 - The FA Cup third round produces a series of thrilling matches, perhaps the most notable being Second Division West Bromwich Albion's 4-2 home defeat to non-league Woking. GM Vauxhall Conference title hopefuls Barnet find themselves on the receiving end of a 5-0 defeat at home to Portsmouth. Chelsea suffer a shock 3-1 defeat at home to Second Division strugglers Oxford. Arsenal beat Sunderland 2-1 at Highbury, while Liverpool are held to a 1-1 draw at Blackburn.
6 January 1991 - Fourth Division Burnley attract more than 20,000 fans to Turf Moor, where they see Manchester City win the FA Cup third round tie 1-0. Barnsley, hopeful of following their Second Division rivals Leeds into the First Division for the first time, attract a crowd of more than 22,000 to Oakwell to watch a 1-1 draw. Last season's beaten finalists Crystal Palace draw 0-0 with Nottingham Forest.
7 January 1991 - Manchester United begin their defence of the FA Cup with a 2-1 home win over QPR.
8 January 1991 - Liverpool sign winger Jimmy Carter from Milwall for £800,000, on the same day that they beat Blackburn 3-0 in the FA Cup third round replay at Anfield to keep their hopes of a unique second double firmly on track. Brian Talbot is sacked as West Bromwich Albion manager following their shock FA Cup defeat.
9 January 1991 - In front of a smaller crowd than the one which saw them draw 1-1 at Oakwell three days ago, Leeds beat Barnsley 4-0 in the FA Cup third round replay at Elland Road. The other replays see Coventry beat Wigan 1-0 at Springfield Park and Wimbledon beat Aston Villa 1-0 at Plough Lane.
12 January 1991 - Liverpool remain top of the table but drop two points when they are held to a goalless draw at Aston Villa. Arsenal miss the chance to go top when they are held to a goalless draw in the North London derby at White Hart Lane. Matthew Le Tissier and Rod Wallace score two goals each in Southampton's 4-3 win at Luton. Manchester United remain in the top five with a 3-0 home win over Sunderland.
13 January 1991 - Everton win 2-0 at Goodison Park in Howard Kendall's first match in charge against his old club Manchester City.
16 January 1991 - Leeds United beat Aston Villa 4-1 in the FA Cup quarter final, while Southampton take Manchester United to a replay with a 1-1 draw, while the clash between Chelsea and Tottenham also goes to a replay after the first match at Stamford Bridge ends in a goalless draw. In the only league action of the day, Newcastle's woes continue when they lose 4-2 at Brighton in the Second Division, a result which lifts the South Coast club into the playoff zone.
17 January 1991 – Sheffield United pay a club record £450,000 for Crystal Palace midfielder Glyn Hodges, who played under Blades manager Dave Bassett several years ago when he was in charge at Wimbledon.
19 January 1991 - Arsenal go top of the First Division for the first time this season with a 1-0 home win over Everton, while Liverpool (who still have a game in hand) can only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Wimbledon. Crystal Palace's title hopes are hit by a 3-1 home defeat to Norwich.
23 January 1991 - Chelsea go through to the League semi-finals with a 3-0 win their quarter-final replay at Tottenham. Mark Hughes scores a hat-trick for Manchester United in their 3-2 replay win over Southampton at Old Trafford which takes them to this stage of the competition for the first time in eight seasons, while 20-year-old striker Alan Shearer scores twice for the losing side. Sheffield Wednesday win 1-0 at Coventry in their delayed quarter-final tie.
26 January 1991 - The first FA Cup fourth round ties are played. Second Division promotion rivals Millwall and Sheffield Wednesday clash in South London and battle out a dramatic 4-4 draw. A South Coast clash sees Portsmouth beat AFC Bournemouth 5-1 at Fratton Park. Manchester United beat Bolton Wanderers 1-0 at Old Trafford. The only First Division action of the day sees Sheffield United beat Derby 1-0 at Bramall Lane to boost their survival bid.
29 January 1991 – David Pleat is sacked after three years as manager of Leicester City, the Second Division strugglers. His assistant Gordon Lee, the former Everton manager, is placed in temporary charge.
31 January 1991 – Arsenal are one point ahead of Liverpool, who have a game in hand, at the top of the First Division. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace are still in contention for a first-ever league title, six points off the top, while Sheffield United remain bottom. West Ham United, Oldham Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday continue to occupy the top three places in the Second Division. Notts County, Middlesbrough, Brighton and Millwall occupy the playoff zone.
2 February 1991 – Arsenal suffer their first league defeat of the season in their 24th game, going down 2–1 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. They remain top of the league by a single point, although Liverpool have two games in hand. Sheffield United are now just two points adrift of safety after a 4-1 home win over Southampton. In the Second Division, Oldham suffer a shock 5-1 defeat at Oxford.
20 February 1991 – Sheffield Wednesday sign 19-year-old striker Gordon Watson from Charlton Athletic for £250,000. The FA Cup fourth round replay between Liverpool ends in a dramatic 4-4 draw at Goodison Park, forcing a second replay.
24 February 1991 - Arsenal return to the top of the First Division on goal difference, beating Crystal Palace 4-0 at Highbury, while Liverpool suffer a shock 3-1 defeat at Luton. Wimbledon go sixth with a 5-1 win over Tottenham at Plough Lane. In the first leg of the League Cup semi finals, Sheffield Wednesday win 2-0 at Chelsea and Manchester United win 1-0 at Leeds.
27 February 1991 - Everton beat Liverpool 1-0 in the second replay of the FA Cup fifth round tie at Goodison Park, ending Liverpool's hopes of a unique second double. Sheffield Wednesday reach their first cup final in 25 years by beating Chelsea 3-1 in the League Cup semi-final second leg.
28 February 1991 – February draws to a close with Arsenal now ahead of Liverpool at the top of the First Division on goal difference, while Crystal Palace are five points behind. At the other end of the table, a splendid run of form has moved Sheffield United six points clear of bottom-placed Derby County. The Blades are level on goal difference with Coventry City, Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers. West Ham United, Oldham Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday continue to lead the way in the Second Division. Middlesbrough, Notts County, Brighton and Millwall occupy the playoff zone, with Bristol City continuing to turn up the heat on them in their bid for a second successive promotion.
2 March 1991 - Manchester United give Ryan Giggs his senior debut as a substitute in a league match at Old Trafford, which ends in a 2-0 defeat to Everton. Dean Saunders scores a hat-trick for Derby in a 3-3 relegation crunch clash with Sunderland at the Baseball Ground.
16 March 1991 - Liverpool go back to the top of the First Division by beating Sunderland 2-1 at Anfield.
17 March 1991 - Arsenal return to the top of the First Division on goal difference (with a game in hand) by beating Leeds 2-0 at Highbury.
23 March 1991 – Liverpool beat Derby County 7–1 at the Baseball Ground, the first time in 28 years that a First Division team has scored seven goals away from home. Arsenal's goalless draw at Norwich sends Liverpool back to the top of the table.
26 March 1991 - Manchester United sign Soviet winger Andrei Kanchelskis, 22, from FC Shakhtar Donetsk for £1million. Ossie Ardiles leaves Swindon Town to become the new manager of Newcastle United following the resignation of Jim Smith.
28 March 1991 – The 90-day inquest into the Hillsborough disaster records a verdict of accidental death on the 95 Liverpool fans who died as a result of their injuries at the FA Cup semi-final on 15 April 1989.
30 March 1991 – Manchester United centre-back Steve Bruce scores twice in a 3–0 away league win over his old club Norwich City, becoming the first defender to score ten league goals this season. Arsenal return to the top of the First Division by beating Derby 2-0 at the Baseball Ground, while Liverpool suffer a shock 3-1 defeat at home to QPR.
31 March 1991 – March draws to a close with Arsenal leading Liverpool by two points. Sheffield United's incredible revival has continued as they now stand 12th in the table, but Derby County are twelve points adrift of safety, and Sunderland occupy the other relegation place. Oldham Athletic and West Ham United lead the Second Division level on 70 points, with Brighton, Middlesbrough, Millwall and Bristol City occupying the playoff zone. Ossie Ardiles becomes manager of Newcastle United, who are just six points outside the playoff zone with two games in hand.
1 April 1991 – Liverpool's hopes of retaining their league title are damaged by a 1–0 away defeat to Southampton.
3 April 1991 - Arsenal are five points ahead at the top of the First Division with seven games remaining after a 5-0 home win over Aston Villa.
13 April 1991 – Liverpool's title challenge is kept alive with a thrilling 5–4 away win over Leeds United, but the Reds are five points behind Arsenal with five games left. Leeds striker Lee Chapman finds himself in the unusual position of scoring a hat-trick despite being on the losing side.
14 April 1991 – Tottenham Hotspur end Arsenal's hopes of the double and boost their own hopes of an eighth FA Cup triumph with a 3–1 win in the first FA Cup semi-final to be played at Wembley. Nottingham Forest win the other semi-final, crushing West Ham United 4–0 at Villa Park.
20 April 1991 – Nottingham Forest record the biggest First Division win of the season by beating Chelsea 7–0 at the City Ground. Derby County lose to Manchester City and are relegated. West Ham seal promotion back to the First Division two years after relegation by beating Swindon 2-0 at Upton Park, with five games left to play in the Second Division.
23 April 1991 - David White scores four goals for Manchester City in a 5-2 away win over Aston Villa. With three games to go, the title race remains open as both Arsenal and Liverpool win and the gap remains three points wide.
30 April 1991 – April draws to a close with Arsenal three points ahead of Liverpool with three matches left, while Crystal Palace's title dreams have ended. Sunderland, Luton Town and last season's runners-up Aston Villa still fighting to avoid relegation alongside Derby County.
4 May 1991 – Arsenal edge closer to the title by drawing 0–0 with Sunderland, while Liverpool are beaten 4–2 by Chelsea.
8 May 1991 - Aston Villa, First Division runners-up last season, confirm their survival with a 2-1 win at home to Norwich City. Sheffield Wednesday seal an immediate return to the First Division with a 3-1 home win over Bristol City.
11 May 1991 – Sunderland are relegated to the Second Division as they lose to Manchester City and Luton Town beat Derby County 2–0. It is the second season running that Luton have survived on the last day of the season with victory over Derby. Arsenal end their championship campaign with a 6–1 demolition of Coventry City at Highbury, with Anders Limpar scoring a hat-trick. The Second Division campaign ended with Oldham Athletic, already promoted to the First Division for the first time since 1923, crowned as champions thanks to an injury-time final-day Neil Redfearn penalty earning them a 3-2 comeback victory over Sheffield Wednesday. West Ham United, last day losers to 4th-place Notts County, had to settle for second. Sheffield Wednesday took the third automatic promotion spot. Hull City's relegation was confirmed 2 weeks ago, while West Bromwich Albion are relegated alongside them to fall into the Third Division for the first time in their history.
13 May 1991 - Gerry Francis resigns after four years as manager of Bristol Rovers, despite having guided the club a mid table finish in the Second Division a year after winning promotion.
15 May 1991 – Manchester United mark the 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 – Tottenham Hotspur win the FA Cup for the eighth time, beating Nottingham Forest 2–1 after extra time in the final. Paul Gascoigne suffers cruciate knee ligament damage, causing his proposed £8.5million move to Lazio to be put on hold.
20 May 1991 - The First Division campaign ends with a 1-1 draw between Manchester United and Tottenham at Old Trafford.
28 May 1991 - Jozef Venglos leaves Aston Villa after just one season as manager.
31 May 1991 - Ron Atkinson, the Sheffield Wednesday manager, turns down an offer to become the new Aston Villa manager. Torquay United win promotion to the Third Division after nearly 20 years in the Fourth Division, beating Blackpool on penalties after a 2-2 draw in the Wembley playoff final.
1 June 1991 - Gerry Francis, who was captain of QPR during the 1970s, returns to Loftus Road as manager. Jim Smith is appointed manager of Portsmouth. Tranmere reach the Second Division for the first time since 1938 by beating Bolton 1-0 in the Third Division playoff final.
7 June 1991 - Ron Atkinson becomes the new Aston Villa manager after accepting an improved offer.
18 June 1991 - Veteran striker Trevor Francis is appointed player-manager of Sheffield Wednesday.
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Tottenham Hotspur beat Nottingham Forest 2–1 after extra time in the FA Cup final. The decisive goal was an own goal by Forest defender Des Walker. Tottenham's triumph was overshadowed by a knee injury to star midfielder Paul Gascoigne in the opening 15 minutes.
Football League CupEdit
Arsenal won the First Division after losing just one of their league matches all season. Liverpool finished runners-up. Third place went to Crystal Palace. Newly promoted Leeds United had a good season back in the First Division as they finished fourth, and also reached the semi-finals of the League Cup. At the bottom of the table, Derby County went down in last place with just five wins all season despite the 17 league goals of Welsh striker Dean Saunders, who was then sold to Liverpool. The other relegation place went to Sunderland.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Qualification or relegation|
|1||Arsenal (C)||38||24||13||1||74||18||+56||83[a]||Qualification for the European Cup|
|2||Liverpool||38||23||7||8||77||40||+37||76||Qualification for the UEFA Cup|
|6||Manchester United||38||16||12||10||58||45||+13||59[a]||Qualification for the European Cup Winners' Cup first round|
|10||Tottenham Hotspur||38||11||16||11||51||50||+1||49||Qualification for the European Cup Winners' Cup qualifying round|
|12||Queens Park Rangers||38||12||10||16||44||53||−9||46|
|19||Sunderland (R)||38||8||10||20||38||60||−22||34||Relegation to the Second Division|
|20||Derby County (R)||38||5||9||24||37||75||−38||24|
Rules for classification: 1) Points; 2) Goal difference; 3) Goals scored
(C) Champion; (R) Relegated.
- Arsenal deducted two points; Manchester United deducted one point due to a brawl in a game between both teams.
Joe Royle's Oldham Athletic side won the Second Division championship ahead of West Ham United, who were promoted as runners-up. Joining them in promotion were League Cup winners Sheffield Wednesday, who finished in third place. Neil Warnock guided Notts County to a second successive victory in the promotion play-offs. Hull City and West Bromwich Albion were relegated.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Promotion or relegation|
|1||Oldham Athletic||46||25||13||8||83||53||+30||88||Division Champions, promoted|
|2||West Ham United||46||24||15||7||60||34||+26||87||Promoted|
|4||Notts County||46||23||11||12||76||55||+21||80||Promoted through play-offs[b]|
|5||Millwall||46||20||13||13||70||51||+19||73||Participated in play-offs|
|6||Brighton & Hove Albion||46||21||7||18||63||69||−6||70|
|23||West Bromwich Albion||46||10||18||18||52||61||−9||48||Relegated|
Second Division play-offsEdit
1st leg – May 19; 2nd leg – May 22, 1991
|Final at Wembley|
June 2, 1991
|6th||Brighton & Hove Albion||1|
|6th||Brighton & Hove Albion||4||2||6|
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 play-off winners Tranmere Rovers. Going down to the Fourth Division were Crewe Alexandra, Rotherham United and Mansfield Town.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Promotion or relegation|
|1||Cambridge United||46||25||11||10||75||45||+30||86||Division Champions, promoted|
|4||Bolton Wanderers||46||24||11||11||64||50||+14||83||Participated in play-offs|
|5||Tranmere Rovers||46||23||9||14||64||46||+18||78||Promoted through play-offs[a]|
|6||Brentford||46||21||13||12||59||47||+12||76||Participated in play-offs|
|17||Preston North End||46||15||11||20||54||67||−13||56|
|20||Swansea City||46||13||9||24||49||72||−23||48||Welsh Cup winners, qualified for the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 1991–92 First round|
- Tranmere Rovers won the play-offs and were promoted.
Third Division play-offsEdit
The semifinals were decided over two legs, and only the aggregates are given in the schemata below. The final consisted of only a single match.
The full results can be found at: Football League Division Three play-offs 1991.
1st leg – May 19; 2nd leg – May 22, 1991
|Final at Wembley|
June 1, 1991
|5th||Tranmere Rovers (a.e.t.)||1|
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 play-off winners, beating Blackpool in a penalty shoot-out in the final.
Wrexham finished bottom of the league, but avoided relegation into the Conference as the Football League increased in size from 92 to 93 teams for 1991-92.
|1||Darlington[a]||46||22||17||7||68||38||+30||83||Division Champions, promoted|
|5||Blackpool||46||23||10||13||78||47||+31||79||Participated in play-offs|
|7||Torquay United||46||18||18||10||64||47||+17||72||Promoted through play-offs[b]|
|8||Scunthorpe United||46||20||11||15||71||62||+9||71||Participated in play-offs|
- New club in the league
- Torquay United won the play-offs and were promoted.
Fourth Division play-offsEdit
1st leg – May 19; 2nd leg – May 22, 1991
|Final at Wembley|
May 31, 1991
|7th||Torquay United (pen.)||2 (5)|
The divisional champions of the major non-League competitions were:
|Isthmian League||Redbridge Forest|
|Northern Premier League||Witton Albion|
|Southern League||Farnborough Town|
|FA Trophy||Wycombe Wanderers|
- Tommy Hutchison, 43-year-old midfielder with one of the highest appearance records of any player in English football, played his final game for Swansea City on 12 March 1991 against Southend United in the Third Division.
- Jim Beglin, 27-year-old Leeds United and Republic of Ireland left-back formerly with Liverpool, retires after failing to overcome a long-term knee injury.
- Alan Hansen, 35-year-old Liverpool captain and former Scotland international, retires after a year out of action with injury.
- Norman Whiteside, 26-year-old Everton and Northern Ireland attacking midfielder, formerly of Manchester United, retires due to a knee injury.
9 August 1990 - Joe Mercer, 76, who won a total of three league titles as a player with Everton (1939) and Arsenal (1948 and 1953), and was later manager of Sheffield United, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Coventry City, as well as an interim spell as manager of the England national football team in 1974.
20 August 1990 -
5 October 1990 - Peter Taylor, 62, most famous for serving as assistant manager to Brian Clough at Hartlepool United, Derby County, Brighton and Nottingham Forest between 1965 and 1982. Also had a spell as manager of non-league Burton Albion before linking up with Clough, and later returned to Derby as manager from 1982 to 1984.
24 December 1990 - Don Dearson, 76, played 131 league games for Birmingham City during a career which was disrupted by the Second World War, before spending the final few seasons of his career with Coventry City and Walsall.
25 January 1991 - Frank Soo, 76, played 173 league games at half-back for Stoke City before the Second World War and 71 times for Luton Town in the early postwar league campaigns. He later managed 12 different British and overseas club sides and had a brief spell in charge of the Norway national football team.
22 May 1991 - Stan Mortensen, 69, former Blackpool forward who scored over 200 goals for the club all competitions, winning the FA Cup in 1953 and also scoring 23 goals in 25 games for the England team.
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