Premier League, 1997 (1996-97)

Premier League – Season Review 1996-97

The 1996-97 FA Carling Premiership was the fifth season in the competition’s history.

Manchester United secured their fourth Premier League title but, overall, it was a campaign that was notable for its inconsistency. Hope of retaining their crown appeared a forlorn hope after losing 0-5 at Newcastle and 3-6 at Southampton in consecutive games in October. United eventually finished with the lowest points total (75) for the English champion team since three points for a win was introduced in 1982. However, they still managed to finish seven points clear of Newcastle United, Arsenal and Liverpool, with Newcastle claiming the second Champions League slot on goal difference.

Aston Villa joined Arsenal and Liverpool in the UEFA Cup via their league position, while Leicester City qualified as Coca-Cola League Cup winners. Chelsea qualified for the European Cup Winners’ Cup by winning the FA Cup.

Controversy surrounded the relegation dogfight with Middlesbrough’s three-point deduction for failing to fulfil a fixture at Blackburn Rovers in December proving decisive. The benefactors were Coventry City who retained the top-flight status they had held since 1967 with a dramatic last day win at Tottenham Hotspur. To compound big-spending Boro’s misery, they were the losing finalists in the FA Cup and League Cup. They were relegated along with Nottingham Forest and Sunderland. It was to be a sad and inappropriate end to Sunderland’s 99-year residence at Roker Park prior to their move to the Stadium of Light.

Alex Ferguson was named Carling Manager of the Season. Alan Shearer of Newcastle United won the PFA Players' Player of the Year award and the Golden Boot with 25 goals. Chelsea’s Gianfranco Zola won the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award. Juninho of Middlesbrough was named Carling Player of the Year.

The PFA Premier League Team of the Year was:

  • David Seaman (Arsenal)
  • Gary Neville (Manchester United), Tony Adams (Arsenal), Mark Wright (Liverpool), Stig Inge Bjornebye (Liverpool)
  • David Beckham (Manchester United), Roy Keane (Manchester United), David Batty (Newcastle United), Steve McManaman (Liverpool)
  • Ian Wright (Arsenal), Alan Shearer (Newcastle United)

The average attendance was 28,434. The highest attendance was 55,314 for Wimbledon’s visit to Manchester United on 29 January 1997. The lowest attendance of the season was the 7,979 who witnessed the game between Wimbledon and Leeds United on 16 April 1997 at Selhurst Park.