The summer of 1998 as ever was a busy one for Premiership clubs. The most expensive move of the preseason was the signature by Blackburn Rovers of Southampton striker Kevin Davies; Davies had scored a number of spectacular goals for Southampton and costs Blackburn £7,500,000. Italian international footballer Pierluigi Casiraghi of Lazio joins Chelsea at the cost of £5,400,000. The other big purchase is by Aston Villa who buy Alan Thompson of Bolton Wanderers for £4,500,000. In Merseyside there is upheaval in both the red and blue sides of Liverpool Football Club. Frenchman Gerard Houllier is announced as the new co-manager to Roy Evans of Liverpool football club, Houllier had studied in the city and attended his first Liverpool match in the 1970’s, Houllier had managed both the French national and Paris St-Germain. Walter Smith becomes Everton’s newest manager, the Scot having found much success at Glasgow Rangers, having taken the Ibrox club to seven successive Scottish Premier League titles.
The 1998-1999 FA Carling Premiership began with a strong start for the new managerial team of Evans and Houllier they take top spot by the end of August. Another Liverpool old boy and former manager Kenny Daglish is sacked as manager of Newcastle United; he is quickly replaced by Ruud Gullit the former European footballer of the year. Liverpool thrash Newcastle 4-1 in United’s first game under Gullit, Michael Owens scoring a hat trick. Liverpool are only top by goal difference with no small thanks to Julian Joachim who scores a brace in three games. However of the two clubs it is Aston Villa who have more success in September as Liverpool fall down the league. The bottom three are made up of Blackburn Rovers, Coventry City and Southampton.
There is much controversy in October for the 1998 - 1999 premier league season as Tottenham Hotspur appoints Arsenal legend George Graham as manager. George Graham who as manger of Arsenal had taken them to two league championships; including the infamous league win during the English Football League Division 1 season at Anfield, this was one of the closest statistical finishes in English top flight football. He beats Derby County 1-0 away in his first game in charge. It is Manchester United who show anything but a flat trajectory as the climb to second. Arsenal to show great form on the pitch as they climb to third partially thanks to young French International Nicolas Anelka. However it is Paulo Di Canio who makes headlines around the world when he pushes over referee Paul Alcock after the man from Kent had shown him a red card, this results in a 11 match ban for the Italian.
In attempt by Aston Villa to keep up their success at the top they sign Dion Dublin from Coventry City paying £5,750,000 for the former Manchester United Striker. He scores 2 on his debut against Tottenham Hotspur in a 3-2 home victory. Blackburn Rover sack Roy Hodgson as manager as they slip to the bottom of the table. He is eventually succeeded by Alex Fergusons Assistant Manager Brian Kidd. As well as Villa, Man Utd and Arsenal Chelsea and Leeds United make up the very top of the 1999 Premiership table.
By the end of January Brian Kidd lifts Blackburn out of the three relegation places; he wins manager of the month. Manchester United win all 3 of their 1999 January games. Wimbledon buys John Hartson from West Ham United after Hartson is driven out of the club after kicking teammate Israeli International Eyal Berkovic in the head during training. More headlines of the field of play are caused with arrest of individual involved in a far eastern syndicate who are arrested after being caught breaking into the power room at Charlton, in previous seasons there had been a number of power failures at high profile matches.
Despite pressure from Arsenal it is Man Utd who win the league title by a single point. This though is not it for United who win the triple. They beat Newcastle United in the Football Association Cup Final. Goals from Teddy Sherringham and Paul Scholes secure the cup at Wembley for the Salford based club. Alex Ferguson completes the unique treble with a 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich. Two very late goals from Teddy Sherringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer win United the European cup at Barcelona’s Nou Camp. Alex Ferguson is subsequently knighted for his achievement; he would again lift the cup during the 2007-2008 premiership football season.
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