The 1994/95 season was one of the most memorable Premier League campaigns of all-time. A close-knit title race was decided on the final day of the season, a first for the Premier League, and was won by a Scottish manager with a legendary status in the North West.
That manager was not Alex Ferguson, but Kenny Dalglish. The Liverpool legend guided Blackburn to its first league title since 1914 and its first major trophy since 1928. The pulsating victory gave Rovers its first ever appearance in the Champions League and handed Alan Shearer his sole piece of major silverware.
The summer of 1994 was a notable one due to the FIFA World Cup. Hosted in the United States for the first time, the tournament marked the first time the sport received mainstream attention across the pond and, for a brief while, put football (or soccer) on the map.
Brazil won its fourth World Cup after defeating Italy on penalties - fitting revenge for the events in Spain in 1982 and showcased Romario, Cafu, and a young Ronaldo to a worldwide audience.
Jurgan Klinsmann was another star of the World Cup and his £2 million transfer to Tottenham Hotspur was seen by many as a sign of the club’s intent to finish as high in the table as they possibly could.
The English transfer record was broken once again when Chris Sutton joined Blackburn Rovers from Norwich City for £5 million. Sutton, a highly-rated young striker, would go on to form a lethal partnership with Alan Shearer labelled the SAS (Shearer and Sutton) by the media. The duo would finish the season with 49 league goals between them.
The 1994/95 Season Summary
The season opened with several title candidates showing what they had to offer. Liverpool’s young striker Robbie Fowler impressed, as did the continued fine form of Newcastle’s Andy Cole, who had finished the previous season as the league’s top scorer and assists provider. The Magpies topped the table early on in the season, however the strength of Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United proved to be too much for them to handle.
United were particularly bolstered by the sudden signing of Cole in the January transfer window. Cole, signed for an English record of £6 million, was instrumental to Newcastle’s success and his shock departure all but ended the possibility of the Premier League trophy arriving in Tyneside. The striker’s arrival was good news for Alex Ferguson, though, and his decision to sign Cole paid dividends when he became the first player to score 5 goals in a Premier League match, doing so in a 9-0 demolition of Ipswich Town on March 4.
Blackburn’s superb form and incredible momentum was briefly halted when they lost 0-1 at Old Trafford in January. For a brief spell, it looked like the pendulum had swung in United’s favour however just three days later, Eric Cantona was involved in an altercation with a Crystal Palace fan that resulted in the Frenchman being banned from football for nine months.
Cantona’s absence would, in the end, cost them both the title and the FA Cup.
A Dramatic Final Day
The race for Premier League supremacy went down to the wire as both Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers had an equal chance of taking home the trophy.
Rovers got the upper hand on the final day of the season when West Ham scored against United. However, a Brian McClair strike restored United’s deficit and put them within touching distance of the crown. They needed one more goal to ensure victory as Blackburn were losing to Liverpool at Anfield.
However, West Ham’s keeper, Ludek Mikoloso, found himself in the form of his life as he produced save after save. Despite intense pressure from the Red Devils, they were unable to find the winning goal and finished the season on 88 points, one behind Blackburn’s total, despite their loss to Liverpool.
Kenny Daglish lifted his only Premier League trophy at the very stadium where he made his name as a player. The script couldn’t have been written better and the Liverpool fans were delighted for both Dalglish and Blackburn considering that the league title was only inches away from their archrivals United.
Alan Shearer topped the scoring charts and would collect his first of three Premier League golden boots. Despite scoring over 150 more goals in the division, the 1994/95 victory would be the only piece of major silverware the great striker would lift.
Blackburn Rovers, as we know now, did not go on to become a powerhouse in English football and before long, the status-quo would be restored when Manchester United regained the trophy the following season. Shearer would depart at the end of the following campaign and Blackburn’s reign at the summit of English football would tumble in subsequent years.
The club famously missed out on Zinedine Zidane in the summer of 1995 as they ‘already had Tim Sherwood’, and a series of departures would seriously deplete their squad. Rovers would finish the 1995/96 season in 7th place, the worst defence of a Premier League trophy at the time.
The third Premier League season is considered one of the most memorable ever. The thrilling title race, intense relegation battle, and high number of goals scored keeps the season fresh in the minds of those who witnessed it.
The 1994/95 campaign would be the last to feature 22 teams and 4 relegation spots. For all following seasons, the league would feature just 20 teams and have three spots at the bottom of the table.
Season Statistics (Team)
Champions - Blackburn Rovers (89 points)
Runners-Up: Manchester United (88 points)
Third Place - Nottingham Forest (77 points)
Relegated - Crystal Palace, Norwich City, Leicester City, Ipswich Town
Season Statistics (Individual)
Golden Boot - Alan Shearer (Blackburn Rovers, 34 goals)
Most Assists - Matt Le Tissier (Southampton, 15 assists)
PFA Player of the Year - Alan Shearer
PFA Young Player of the Year - Robbie Fowler (Liverpool)
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