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Some people tell me that we professional players are soccer slaves. Well, if this is slavery, give me a life sentence.
The richest and arguably most prestigious of the world's Footy Leagues
, and certainly one of the most high-profile sports events worldwide. But first, a history lesson.
By the end of the '80s, English football was in a bit of a state. Hooliganism
was rife both at home and abroad—the French called it le malaise Anglais
, the English Disease. Liverpool fans had been blamed for the Heysel Stadium Disaster
in 1985 and English clubs had been banned from all European competition. Revenues and attendance were plummeting and many of the stadia were crumbling, poorly maintained or hopelessly old fashioned, this being one factor in the horrific Bradford City stadium fire
of 1985. Tall fences were installed to stop hooligans from invading the pitch, but this practice was stopped after the Hillsborough Disaster
in 1989, when 96 people (most of them Liverpool fans) were crushed to death. The best English players began moving abroad, mostly to Italy or Spain, which were seen as having the best leagues at the time.
There was some light in the gloom, though. England's national team made the top four in the 1990 World Cup
, the same year in which the post-Heysel ban on English clubs in Europe was lifted. Manchester United promptly won the now-defunct European Cup-Winners' Cup
in 1991. After the Hillsborough Disaster, Lord Taylor produced a report which forced all top-level clubs to make their stadia safer, more pleasant places to watch a game (done by removing any lawn seating entirely and having all seating be in chairs) and to take measures to clamp down on hooliganism. Slowly, attendances started to rise as parents began taking their children again, and "normal" non-violent fans were no longer put off.
Then into the mix came the dawn of satellite television, in the form of Sky TV (still the main British satellite broadcaster). Sky's presence
and the increasing quality of the English game meant that TV revenue from football skyrocketed from £6.3m in 1986 to over £44m in 1988. The biggest clubs in the top division felt they weren't getting a big enough slice of the cake, and that The Football League, who had been organizing English football since 1888, weren't doing enough to help, so in the summer of 1991 they decided to break away and form their own league.
The Premier League debuted for the 1992/93 season with 22 members, while The Football League was left with the lower three divisions, now confusingly renumbered so that the second tier of English football would be "Division One". Promotion and relegation between the Premier League and Division One was maintained, and fans didn't notice any immediate difference beyond the change of names and new logos. Later, a new sponsorship deal with the Football League muddied the waters even further, so that the tiers now read "Premier League -> The Championship -> League One -> League Two".
But sure enough, money started to flow into the Premier League clubs thanks to Sky's TV revenues, while the number of foreign players began to increase dramatically, particularly after 1995, when a test case at the European Court of Justice established that footballers were not exempt from European Law regarding free movement of labour and services: any EU-citizen footballer could play at any EU club with no restrictions, and any EU footballer could move to another club freely once his contract was up. The case - known as the Bosman Ruling after Belgian player Jean-Marc Bosman who took the case to court - had a massive effect on football throughout Europe, but particularly in England where the Premier League rapidly became the richest league.
Recently the League has overtaken Spain's La Liga to become the highest ranked league in Europe according to UEFA. Despite the small size of a lot of England's stadia compared to Europe, the quality of the English game is extremely high and total club revenue annually is almost £2.5 billion! The Premier League's revenue is the fourth highest anywhere in the world, behind the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA.
There are problems, of course. The highest-placing teams get the most money, which is logical, but tends to mean that success is self-perpetuating
, and the so-called "Big Four" - Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City (Liverpool in place of City until about 2009) - dominate the top four positions in the league, which in turn means they all qualify for the Champions League
and accumulate even more
money. At the other end of the table, smaller clubs promoted to the league usually struggle and are often relegated in their first season. Some clubs have tried breaking their way into the leading pack by spending big in the hope of making up the difference with money earned by getting into the Champions League, but at best have only achieved minor, temporary success, and at worst have undergone total financial meltdown and rapidly fallen away into lower-league obscurity (Leeds United, Portsmouth and Bradford City being the main examples of this).
The only way to break into the top four seems to be for a club to be bought by someone with a truly eye-watering amount of spare money to throw around - Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich b(r)ought Chelsea into the top four, and Sheikh Mansour recently did the same for perennial underachievers Manchester City. In Europe they contend against the best teams in the Union of European Football Associations (potentially from as far away as Vladivostok) to win the most prestigious title in world club football. The Champions League winners also compete for the less prestigious title of World Club Champion. For clubs in positions five, six and sometimes seven (or alternatively, the League Cup and FA Cup winners if they do not already qualify for Europe), there is the Europa League
, which was the UEFA Cup until 2009, less popular but still a good alternative for clubs.
The influx of foreign players means that Premier League fans get to watch some of the best players in the world every week, but it also means that English talent potentially gets squeezed out - in 1999, Chelsea became the first English club to field an entirely non-English starting eleven and at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, more than eighty Premier League players took part. Some say this has had a detrimental effect on the national team's talent pool.
Despite those problems there is no doubt that the current state of the Premier League showcases a remarkable turn around for football in England since the troubles of The Eighties
and has helped move England back up to being one of the top footballing nations in the world. It is arguably back ahead of its cousin leagues in Spain and Italy in terms of the quality of football, certainly in terms of attendance and revenue and is now watched all around the world and particularly in the Far East. Now if only the national team could match the Premier League's success ...
The current members of the League:
- Arsenal: A very successful north London club who lifted the crown in 1997/98, 2001/02 and 2003/04 (which was achieved unbeaten), all of which was under Arsene Wenger's management. Wenger has managed the club for one thousand games, reaching the milestone on 22 March 2014 with Arsenal's fixture at Chelsea (against Jose Mourinho, no less). Stan Kroenke, owner of the NFL's St. Louis Ramsnote , holds majority ownership of the club. They currently hold the record for the longest uninterrupted stay in the Top Division/Premier League (dating all the way back to 1919/20, when they were promoted under very controversial circumstances following World War I). Their Arch-Enemy is Tottenham Hotspur, a derby that has led to classic matches in both league and cup competitions. Matches against Manchester United and Chelsea are also Serious Business to Arsenal's fans.
- Aston Villa: Generally a typical mid-table side from Birmingham, the odd flirtation with either end of the table notwithstanding; their highest finish was as runners-up under Ron Atkinson in the first Premier League season. They also mounted a consistent challenge for European places under the management of Martin O'Neill, only to have reverted to old ways since then. As of 2012 current manager Paul Lambert has attempted to rebuild the side on a basis of young talent, with mixed results. They're also controlled by an American: former Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner.
- Burnley — The smallest club to have been promoted to the Premier League thus far, based in a town in eastern Lancashire so small its population would only fill three of Old Trafford's stands. Despite starting their freshman season (2009/10) well, things went horribly wrong after promotion-winning manager Owen Coyle left and they ended up getting relegated shortly after. They'll get a second chance in the 2014/15 season though, as they have been promoted from the Championship once again.
- Chelsea: The 2009/10 champions under Carlo Ancelotti and who also won titles in 2004/05 and 2005/06 under José Mourinho. Central London-based Chelsea FC is currently owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, making the club one of the wealthiest in the Premier League. Although their traditional rivals are Fulham, Chelsea fans tend to look down on Fulham and find either Arsenal or Spurs as their real Arch-Enemy instead.
- Crystal Palace: South London-based club who to date have had five separate spells in the Premier League, more than any other team, and suffered immediate relegation in each of the first four (though were a little unlucky to go down in the 1994/95 season, when there was an extra relegation spot due to league reconstruction). Their current manager is Tony Pulis, the ex-Stoke coach who has never suffered relegation with any of his teams. With a 1-0 win over West Ham in April 2014, they were successful in avoiding relegation for the first time. They hate Brighton and Hove Albion with a passion, they don't like Charlton Athletic, and they really don't like Eric Cantona.
- Everton: Liverpool's major rivals from just across town. Spent the first decade of the Premier League constantly fighting relegation, but after David Moyes's appointment as manager in 2002 they often challenged for European places, and managed to break into the Champions League spots (at that time occupied consistently by the "Big Four") in the 2004/05 season (ironically the one of the Four they replaced that year - Liverpool - actually won the Champions League that season, so got a bye into the following season's competition). Roberto Martinez took over as manager after David Moyes left for Manchester United.
- Hull City: First entered the Premier League (and indeed the top-flight) in 2008; the debut season of the Kingston upon Hull-based team is mostly remembered for them doing well until then-manager Phil Brown decided to berate his entire team on the pitch during half-time of one match, after which they didn't win a single home game for the rest of the season, and only won once away, at Fulham, and barely avoided relegation, before going down the following year having not won a single game on their travels. Returned to the top-flight in 2013 under Steve Bruce's management.
- Leicester City: The Midlands-based "Foxes" had a good run under Martin O'Neill's management in the late nineties, but things went rapidly downhill after he went north of the border for Celtic in 2000. Leicester got relegated to League One in 2008, but they bounced back the following season and spent the next five seasons in the Championship. After being absent from the Premier League for ten years, the Foxes achieved promotion to the top flight following their victory over Sheffield Wednesday on 4 April 2014.
- Liverpool: The second most successful club in English Football, who have won the League 18 times and the European Cup 5 times, but have never won the Premier League in its present form, their best performances being runners-up in 2002, 2009 and 2014. Managed by Brendan Rogers.
- Manchester City: Current League champions, presently under the management of Manuel Pellegrini. Perennial underachievers, until being bought by Arab Sheik Mansour, after which the team became serious contenders, winning the 2011-12 title under Roberto Mancini. Fans of other teams find City as a Base Breaker because of the team's overwhelming wealth.
- Manchester United: The most successful club in English football, who have won the top League a record 20 times, including a record 13 Premier League titles all won under Sir Alex Ferguson. The Glazer family, which also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, holds a controlling stake in the team; however, supporters have unsuccessfully attempted to buy out Malcolm Glazer, the family patriarch and owner of the club until his death in 2014, since he saddled the club with massive debts. David Moyes took over as manager following Ferguson's retirement in 2013. Unfortunately for United, the 2013/14 season went horribly wrong and Moyes got the heave-ho after losing 2-0 to his former club Everton at Goodison Park on 20 April 2014, failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 1995 in the process. Their present manager is the Netherlands' Louis van Gaal, then fresh from leading his national side to a third-place finish at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
- Newcastle United: Owned by Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley, this team from Newcastle-upon-Tyne is probably most famous for Kevin Keegan's rant in 1995, where with Newcastle 12 points ahead, he declared that he'd "love it if we (Newcastle) beat them (Manchester United)". They let that lead slip. The team had something of a slide around 2007/08, leading to the sacking of Sam Allardyce, Keegan's ill-fated return, and a whole lot of off-field issues, leading to club legend Alan Shearer taking his first management job to try and save them from relegation. It failed. They came back up at the first attempt, and in their second season back in the top flight, got into Europe under Alan Pardew, who apparently has a 10-year contract.
- Queens Park Rangers: Yet another central London club, who were regular fixtures in the top-flight until relegation in 1996. After 15 years of varying fortunes they returned to the Premier League in 2011 with rich new owners, and barely survived the 2011/12 season before things went epically wrong the following season and they were relegated. They returned for 2014/15 after beating Derby County in the play-offs. Managed by footballing stalwart Harry Redknapp.
- Southampton: South coast club who were regular fixtures (albeit usually struggling against relegation) until some epic mismanagement saw them relegated in 2005, and then again in 2009. Rebounded with back-to-back promotions in 2011 and 2012, though promotion-winning manager Nigel Adkins was controversially axed simply because the owners didn't think he was high-profile enough. However, the new boss, Mauricio Pocchetino, famous for his foul in the 2002 World Cup, helped Southampton climb into the top half of the table, and as of November 2014 they've turned into unlikely title challengers.
- Stoke City: Top-flight mainstays from Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire until the mid-80s, when they were relegated after an infamously awful 1984/85 season. They then spent the next two decades bouncing between the second and third tiers, before Tony Pulis bought them back into the Premier League in 2008. They've consistently finished in the mid-table since then, though their somewhat ugly footballing style and failure to progress saw Pulis get sacked in 2013.
- Sunderland: Deadly rivals of Newcastle from just across the county, and relatively regular members of the Premier League since 1996. Challenged for the European spots for a few years in the early 2000s under Peter Reid, but otherwise have generally finished lower mid-table, along with being relegated after two really awful seasons in 2003 and 2006. Under Gus Poyet, they won 4 of their last 6 games to avoid relegation (which had looked near-certain for most of the season) in 2013/14.
- Swansea City: Became the first Welsh club to ever play in the top division after being promoted in 2011. After almost being relegated out of League Two in 2003 (which would have caused the club to fold due to the financial difficulties they faced at the time), they enjoyed a meteoric rise to the Premier League thanks to their attacking, possession-focused tactics. Having established themselves as consistent mid-table finishers in their first two seasons, Swansea earned their first major piece of silverware when they won the League Cup in 2013, qualifying for the Europa League in the process.
- Tottenham Hotspur: A north London club and Arsenal's main rival. The Spurs were relatively unremarkable for the Premier League's first decade, usually finishing in a mid-to-low position, but became regular challengers for the Champions League first under Martin Jol, and then under Harry Redknapp, though to date have only actually made the top four twice, in 2010 and 2012 (and failed to qualify for the Champions League in the latter after sixth-place Chelsea won it). The 2013/14 season saw Spurs selling Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for a world record £85 million and sacking Andre Villas-Boas after a rocky start. In addition to loathing Arsenal, Spurs also have fierce derbies against West Ham United and Chelsea.
- West Bromwich Albion: West Midlands-based club, who spent much of the 2000s bouncing between the Premier League and Championship, before establishing themselves as a decent mid-table side under Roy Hodgson before he left to take over England. Best known for their "Great Escape" during the 2004/05 season, where they became the first team to escape relegation having been bottom at Christmas (in fact, they were still bottom going into their final match). They were relegated the following season, however.
- West Ham United: Despite what the name might suggest, they're based in east London (and are slated to take over the Olympic Stadium in the 2016/17 season). Have featured in most Premier League campaigns and generally finish mid-table, although have twice suffered relegation on the back of ill-advised managerial appointments (going down under Glenn Roeder in 2003, and Avram Grant in 2011). They don't like Spurs and they really loathe Millwall.
Former members of the League:
- Birmingham City (2002-2006; 2007-2008; 2009-2011) — the other major club from Birmingham. Had quite a few seasons in the Premier League during the 2000s, but could never quite establish themselves despite a League Cup win months before their relegation in 2011.
- Blackburn Rovers: (1992-1999; 2001-2012) — won the Premier League once back in 1994/95 under Kenny Dalglish. The only former champions to have been relegated, twice no less; the second relegation came after they were taken over by Indian poultry giant Venky's, who sacked then-manager Sam Allardyce and replaced him with the highly unpopular Steve Kean, leading to relegation the following year, and the club getting through four managers in the following season in the Championship.
- Blackpool (2010-2011) — mostly remembered for the success they had when Stanley Matthews played for them back in the 50s, but they suffered some very troubled times from the late 70s onward, before getting back into the top-flight after a series of promotions in the mid-late 2000s. They went down straight away, albeit with a relatively high points total for a relegated side, partly due to a series of good away wins in the first two thirds of the season, before a spectacular implosion in spring.
- Bolton Wanderers (1995-1996; 1997-1998; 2001-2012) — A Greater Manchester based club; their first Premier League season was awful, and their second saw them relegated on goal difference, but they established themselves as a pretty good side under Sam Allardyce in the 2000s. Their fortunes gradually deteriorated after he left however, and they were eventually relegated in 2012.
- Bradford City (1999-2001) — West Yorkshire club who famously survived on the last day of the 1999/2000 season by beating Liverpool. Unfortunately, in a portent of what would later happen to neighbours Leeds United, they then massively overspent on players and underwent financial meltdown, ending up in the Football League's lowest tier by 2007 (though they won promotion out of that division in 2013).
- Cardiff City (2013-14)— The second Welsh club to have played in the Premier League. Their constant failures to get promoted to the top-flight were the source of a running joke for many years, until things finally went right in 2013 when they won the Football League Championship and earned promotion. Their owner, Vincent Tan, is a controversial figure for his constant Executive Meddling note , his jeers toward his own players and his lack of knowledge for the game note . However, his decision to sack Malky Mackay has helped vindicate his reputation after details about the former manager's... unsavory text messages came to public light. Despite signing players such as England international Steven Caulker, their only season in the Premier League was a far cry from the success of their rival Swansea City and the Bluebirds got relegated after losing ignominiously to Newcastle on May 3, 2014.
- Charlton Athletic (1998-1999; 2000-2007) — Another London-based club, who narrowly failed to survive in their first season, before establishing themselves as a decent mid-table side for a few years. However, things quickly went downhill after manager Alan Curbishley left, and they were relegated the following year, then again in 2009. Are currently in the Championship after winning promotion in 2012.
- Coventry City (1992-2001) — Midlands-based club, with rivalries with Leicester City and the two Birmingham-based clubs. Like Southampton they were longtime members of the top-flight, but constantly struggled and finally went down in 2001. Contrary to what Monty Python's Flying Circus would have you believe, they have won the FA Cup (in 1987, well after the referenced sketch aired). Their failures to win promotion combined with the cost of building a new ground caused their finances to deteriorate as the decade progressed, leading to them being relegated again in 2012. To add insult to injury they were kicked out of their ground the following year, playing their 2013–14 "home" games 40 miles away in Northampton. They're now back in their Coventry ground.
- Derby County (1996-2002; 2007-2008) — mostly remembered as the first team that Brian Clough made into title-winners. They were a generally decent side for a few years under Jim Smith, until they were relegated in 2002. Returned for one season after that, which can only be described as a failure of the most epic kind.
- Fulham (2001-2014) — Probably most famously had a great escape from relegation in 2007/08 under Roy Hodgson, then the following season got into Europe, before becoming runners-up in the 2009/10 Europa League - beating many of the game's most famous names to do so. The team lost their status as a Premier League club as a poor 2013/14 campaign saw both ex-Spurs boss Martin Jol and Rene Meulensteen getting the sack. Formerly owned by Mohammed Al Fayed, they were purchased in 2013 by Pakistani-born US billionaire Shahid Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- Ipswich Town (1992-1995; 2000-2002) — Norwich's main rivals, and a successful club under Bobby Robson in the seventies, but their first few years in the Premier League were unimpressive, and they were relegated after a really terrible season in 1994/95. They came back in 2000, and finished fifth that year, only to end up back in the second tier (where they remain to this day) the following year.
- Leeds United (1992-2004) — frequently won trophies in the 60s, 70s and 90s, but crashed and burned spectacularly after overspending in the early 2000s, being relegated in 2004, and then again to League One in 2007, and only avoided being tossed out of the Football League and bankrupted due to Loophole Abuse (which cause the FA to bring in the more stringent financial rules that are in operation today). Got back to the Championship in 2010, but have never seriously looked like getting back into the Premier League since then, and in fact have only even once finished in the top half of the Championship, when they made the play-off final in 2006. Their main rivals are the two Sheffield clubs. Replaced an earlier club called Leeds City... who were tossed out of the Football League and bankrupted just after World War I due to massive corruption, which included bribing league officials and paying their players illegal bonuses.
- Middlesbrough (1992-93; 1995-1997; 1998-2009) — one of the "North-East Three" along with Newcastle and Sunderland. Were controversially relegated for failing to fulfill a fixture in 1997, but came back the following year and lasted over a decade, generally finishing mid-table before eventually going down in 2009.
- Norwich City (1992-95; 2004-2005; 2011-2014) — Title challengers under Mike Walker in the first Premier League season, but suffered a spectacular collapse after he left the following year and went down in the 1994-95 season. Came back for one season in 2004/05, before returning again and stabilising themselves in 2011. A torridnote 2013/14 campaign, however, saw the Canaries being too cautious and conservative for their own good and they paid dearly by being relegated on the season's final day. Owned by chef Delia Smith, and counts Stephen Fry as a director.
- Nottingham Forest (1992-1993; 1994-1997; 1998-1999) — enjoyed huge success under Brian Clough in the 70s and 80s, but the start of the Premier League brought relegation, and his retirement. Came back twice after that but, aside from a 3rd place finish in 1995, enjoyed little success, and ended up going down to League One in 2005 (they came back three years later).
- Oldham Athletic (1992-1994) — smallish club based in Greater Manchester who nonetheless spent a few years in the top-flight back in the early 90s. They were relegated in 1994 and since 1997 have been in the third tier - the longest period any non top-flight club have been in their division without being promoted or relegated.
- Portsmouth (2003-2010) — south coast club, whose fortunes seem to be the opposite of bitter rivals Southampton at any given time. After getting into the Premier League, their fortunes improved year on year... until their playboy millionairenote owner pulled the plug on them in 2009, sending them into a financial meltdown that made Bradford and Leeds's declines look tame. They were relegated the following year, relegated to League One in 2012 (thanks to a points deduction) and relegated to League Two the year after that, only avoiding bankruptcy when the supporters' trust purchased the club.
- Reading (2006-2008; 2012-2013) — Berkshire-based club who were promoted to the top-flight for the first time ever in 2006. Despite a strong debut season, things went wrong the next year and they were relegated. They proved even worse the next time they were promoted, and went straight back down.
- Sheffield Wednesday (1992-2000) — one of the two Sheffield clubs, who contest the Steel City derby (at least, when they're in the same division). Had varying fortunes for the first few Premier League seasons before getting relegated after a pretty terrible season in at the turn of the century. Have since been bouncing around between the second and third tiers, though are currently in the Championship and a division above neighbours United for the first time in quite a while.
- Sheffield United (1992-1994; 2006-2007) — the other Sheffield club. Suffered last-day relegation from the Premier League on two separate occasions, the second in very controversial circumstances due to West Ham striker Carlos Teveznote scoring the goal which kept West Ham up at United's expense. Generally enjoyed better fortunes than Wednesday for most of the 2000s, though are currently in League One.
- Swindon Town (1993-1994) — their only top-flight season to date did not go at all well, as they were relegated in bottom place after conceding precisely one hundred goals. To add insult to injury, they were then relegated the following year (though like Crystal Palace, this was only due to league reconstruction), and have since spent most of their time bouncing around between the bottom two divisions.
- Watford (1999-2000; 2006-2007) — enjoyed success under Graham Taylor in the 80s, and he took them back to the top-flight in 1999, only for them to be immediately relegated. They were promoted again under Adrian Boothroyd in 2006... and got immediately relegated again. Have since done reasonably well in the Championship, though have repeatedly fallen short of promotion.
- Wigan Athletic (2005-2013) — Lancashire club who spent the better part of a decade surviving against the odds, always managing to pull off last-day escapes. Unfortunately the 2012/13 season proved a step too far, and they were relegated despite winning the FA Cup.
- Wimbledon (1992-2000) — South London club who were nicknamed "the Crazy Gang," and the only former Premier League club which is no longer in existence. The club itself became Milton Keynes Dons in 2004, while a Spiritual Successor club, AFC Wimbledon was formed in 2002.
- Wolverhampton Wanderers (2003-2004; 2009-2012) — hugely successful in the 1950s, and relatively common fixtures in the top-flight until the mid 1980s. After their first Premier League campaign ended in immediate relegation they survived for a few years in the 2000s/2010s, only to be relegated in 2012, and then relegated again the following year, although were promoted back to the Championship in 2013/14.
Passions tend to run high among fans of the teams currently and formerly in this league. As a result, unlike most other Useful Notes
pages, standard YMMV
trope rules are fully enforced on this page — meaning, we don't want to see any!
The League provides examples of:
- 0% Approval Rating: Vincent Tan, as explained quite frequently in this page. It's hard not to feel sympathy for Cardiff fans.
- Always Someone Better: Almost every side has a "bogey team" that they just can't beat. The most spectacular example? Portsmouth have not beaten Chelsea in any competition since 1960.
- Badass: Each club has had at least one player who was considered a 'hard man', a physical player who had no shame in yelling at others or getting physical or getting plenty of red cards. This practice has been in decline with the controversy surrounding tough tackling lately but examples include:
- Wimbledon's Vinnie Jones is the best known example, who even released a video called Soccer's Hard Men which got him fined and banned by the FA for a while, and now plays tough characters in films. He also was booked after 3 seconds in one game and earned 12 red cards in his career. Perhaps best known for a photo of him, er, taking the measure◊ of poor Paul Gascoigne.
- Manchester United had Roy Keane.
- Arsenal had Martin Keown.
- Chelsea had Dennis Wise.
- Everton had Duncan Ferguson.
- Berserk Button: The Hillsborough disaster, and mockery thereof, for Liverpool fans (in fact, it's one of the few things that can unite Liverpool and Everton fans). Just ask Kelvin MacKenzie...
- Heysel is also something Liverpool fans don't like hearing or talking about about, only in this case it's because it was the opposition fans being killed, during hooliganism's heyday in the '80's. This resulted in English teams being banned from European competition, which is also something of a Berserk Button to Everton fans, as they would have been England's representative at the European Cup the following season.
- In a similiar vein, the Munich Air Disaster is this to Manchester United fans; in every match with Liverpool, fans are reminded not to bring either Munich or Hillsborough up. Either side listening to this request is rare, as bringing up one will invariably bring up the other in retaliation, and things snowball from there.
- In fact, making fun of any of these, regardless of who you support, is a very bad idea in general...
- Big Game: Matches between rivals, title contenders or a match that could either seal relegation or the title.
- Big Damn Heroes: Every team has its tales of last minute heroics against the odds. However it's no coincidence that the most successful teams have players who seem to always score a goal Just in Time to salvage a result.
- Book Ends: The first Premier League in the 1992-93 season was won by Manchester United and was their first under Sir Alex Ferguson, with Bryan Robson and Steve Bruce collecting the trophy together - Robson being club captain but missing a large portion of the season due to injury or younger players forcing him out of the team, and Bruce captaining the side in the games Robson didn't play. The 2012-13 season was again won by United, with Robson and Bruce bringing the trophy out for the current United side to collect in Ferguson's final championship win before his retirement at the end of the season.
- Bribe Backfire: Arsenal's George Graham, credited with returning them to glory in the late 80s, was discovered to have taken bribes to sign players; the fact those players didn't do well at all just makes it worse. He was fined and banned from the game for a year.
- Legendary Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar was found to have been involved with match-fixing scandals, that was rather messy too. Ironically he was actually declared to be innocent of the allegations in question, although the judge noted that this was due to the lack of any decisive proof that he was guilty. However, Grobbelaar then tried to sue several major tabloids for their reporting on the case — not only did he fail miserably in this, the tabloids in question proceeded to drag his name through the mud by digging up every little bit of dirt on him that they could, and utterly destroyed what little reputation he had left.
- Butt Monkey:
- Crystal Palace. They've has five separate spells in the Premier League, and were instantly relegated in each of the first four. As of the 2013/14 season, they've managed to avoid relegation for the first time.
- Wigan Athletic may be considered one. In most seasons they were usually one of the league leaders in terms of goals conceded. And that's not even mentioning how they always seem to suffer some of the most one-sided and embarrassing losses; their 9-1 defeat against Tottenham ties the record for the most goals conceded in a Premier League match. Also notable is an 8-0 defeat against Chelsea.
- As far as managers are concerned, Avram Grant. In his three seasons in Premier League management, he took Chelsea to within a game of winning three honours and lost them all, then finished in bottom place with Portsmouth, then finished in bottom place again with West Ham. In fact, since the Champions League final with Chelsea, Grant had managed to spend a grand total of one week outside the bottom three. On top of all that, he was involved in a brothel-related scandal during his time at Portsmouth, and when he moved to West Ham the club's chief executive, Karren Brady constantly attacked him in press, saying that she never wanted him at the club largely due to the scandal in question.
- Swindon Town - the one year they lasted in the Premiership is only notable because they conceded a whopping 100 goals. No points for guessing where they ended up. For an encore, the year after that they became the first (and to date, only) club to be relegated from the Premiership and then Division One/the Championship in successive years, and in 2006 they became the first former Premier League club to be relegated to the Football League's bottom division.
- Tottenham Hotspur, who usually end up attempting to outspend the Top 4 in an attempt to break into Champions League football, get ridiculously overhyped before the season and during its early stages, then, particularly in recent years, they get shitstomped by everyone above fifth/sixth place.
- Liverpool were this from 2009-10 when they dropped out of the Champions League places, then out of the European places entirely. The 2013-2014 season, however, comprised a massive He's Back moment, and they very nearly won the title.
- Following Alex Ferguson's departure, Manchester United have become this in epic fashion, finishing in seventh place, to mass gloating from the blue half of Manchester and the red half of Merseyside. United fans took to invoking We Win Because You Didn't over Liverpool's own failure to win the league that year.
- Cheaters Never Prosper: Inverted, every year there will always be one player diving in the penalty area or a referee making a stupid Idiot Ball decision. Cue the calls for video refereeing yet nothing is ever really done to change anything.
- However, it is difficult for cheaters to not prosper in the Premier League since all teams have cheated to some extent at some point.
- Critical Research Failure: Crosses over with What an Idiot and Epic Fail for Graeme Souness back when he managed Southampton in 1996. He received a call supposedly from George Weah, who convinced him to sign someone called Ali Dia, this became one of the most infamous transfers in history.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The league's formative years saw vast amounts of rather shady money change rather shady hands. We'd rather not name names here, but Tom Bower's book Broken Dreams: Vanity, Greed, and the Souring of British Football has most of the details.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Rare, but they happen, like Manchester United vs Ipswich (9-0) and Tottenham vs Wigan (9-1). In fact, Chelsea are starting to become accomplished curbstompers, with four of games either side of the 2010 summer break ending like this, against Stoke (7-0), Wigan (8-0), West Brom the following season (6-0), and Wigan again (6-0 again).
- On August 28, 2011, the teams of Manchester achieved back to back curbstomps against Northern London sides, with Manchester City crushing Tottenham 5-1 and Manchester United embarassing Arsenal in an 8-2 shitstomping.
- And when the two Manchester teams met on October 23rd, City hammered United 6-1.
- On December 23, 2012, Chelsea hammered Aston Villa 8-0...which set a new record as Aston Villa's heaviest ever loss.
- Manchester City, throughout the 2013/14 season. They beat Norwich 7-0, Tottenham 6-0, Fulham 5-0, Tottenham 5-1 again, Newcastle 4-0, Manchester United 4-1, and West Ham United 6-0 (Capital One Cup), with several matches left to play.
- 8 February 2014, Arsenal at Liverpool. Liverpool scored four times in the first 20 minutes, then later in the second half. Arsenal finally got a penalty at the 70th, but by then it was too little too late. Final score, 5-1. Perhaps the date being 08/02 might have been the first clue that something bad was about to happen.
- Liverpool made this a habit in the 2013/2014 season, flattening Arsenal 5-1, Tottenham twice (4-0 at Anfield, 5-0 at White Hart Lane), Everton 4-0, Norwich 5-1 (though this one might as well have been Luis Suarez 4, Norwich 1) and Manchester United 3-0.
- Poor Arsenal, yet again. 22 March 2014, against Chelsea, in Arsene Wenger's 1000th game, thrashed 6-0. They went down to 10 men in the 18th minute (when it was already 2-0) after Kieran Gibbs was wrongly sent off in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after a blatant handball in the penalty area.
- Deadpan Snarker: By getting Blackpool promoted into the Premier League, Ian Holloway can be added here.
- Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho surely counts here as well.
- As does Sir Alex Ferguson, to an extent. Not as much as the other two.
- Determinator: Whether you like him or not, you cannot deny that John Terry does not give up under any circumstances. Case in point, a moment from the World Cup.
- Manchester United's Roy Keane.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: On the last day of the 05/06 season. Arsenal needed a win in their last game at Highbury to ensure Champions League qualification for the next season at the expense of fierce local rivals Tottenham, who were one point ahead and needed to win as well. On the morning of the game Tottenham come down big with a mass bout of food poisoning. Attempts to get the game postponed were unsuccessful, leading some to sourly speculate that the friendship between the Premier League chief and Arsenal chairman David Dein may have had something to do with it. In the event, Arsenal cruised to a 4-2 victory; Tottenham lost and failed to qualify. The latter's fans have never forgotten this. Cue tons of jokes about Wenger being Tottenham's chef the night before.
- The conclusion of the 2011/12 unfolded in similar fashion: with Arsenal in third place, only 1 point above 4th placed Tottenham and 5th placed Newcastle, Arsenal required a win to guarantee Champion's league football. The team in fourth place would ordinarily have qualified for the CL also, but this time needed to wait upon the result of the Champion's League final between 6th placed Chelsea and Bayern Munich - if Chelsea won the final, they would automatically qualify for next season's competition at the expense of the 4th placed league team. The final result: Arsenal came up against a West Brom team whose regular keeper had been replaced at the last minute by the back-up Marton Fulop, who failed at Spurs in the past and was loaned out many times. Fulop had an absolute nightmare, handing Arsenal three easy goals and the win. Arsenal secured third place and guaranteed Champion's League football. Chelsea won the Champions League a week later, barring Tottenham from the competition altogether.
- Draco in Leather Pants: Chelsea manager Mourinho surely counts. The man has courted controversy his whole career, including poking the opposition's assistant coach in the eye. This is rationalized as him being a character and being handsome means he has a lot of females on his side. Noticeably different compared to his time in Italy and Spain where his antics are harshly criticized by the press.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Sir Alex Ferguson, whose habit of shouting at players from a range of inches has earned the nickname "the hairdryer treatment".
- The reaction to a number of players with the arrival of Paolo di Canio to Sunderland.
- Dude, Not Funny!: The entire league's reaction to Charles Itandje's antics at a Hillsborough memorial.
- Ensemble Darkhorse:
- Definitely Steffen Freund during his time playing for Spurs. While his stats were nothing to write home about, Freund's dedication to the club and work ethic won over fans. To this day, you'll hear Spurs fans chanting "I love Steffen Freund, Steffen Fruend loves me..."
- Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is still beloved by Manchester United fans, years after his retirement - Mostly because of his heroics in the 1999 Champions League final.
- To some extent, Manchester City's Stevan Jovetic.
- Epic Fail:
- Massimo Taibi's entire Manchester United career; he played in three Premier League matches. The first was a victory over Liverpool where he was named the man of the match. However, his second featured an incident where he allowed a shot by Matt Le Tissier to squeeze through his legs, allowing Southampton to snatch a 1-1 draw. The third & final match was a 5-0 defeat by Chelsea, which still stands as United's worst-ever Premier League result — and bear in mind that this was during the 1999-2000 season, in which they won the Premier League by what remains the biggest margin in English football history. Taibi never played again for United after the Chelsea match.
- Derby County's 2007/08 season, in which they earned a grand total of one win and 11 points from 38 games. Sunderland had two seasons that were almost as bad, getting just 19 points in the 2002/03 season and then somehow doing even worse in the 2005/06 season and getting 15 points. (Portsmouth also finished on 19 points in the 2009/10 season, but their record looked worse than it actually was due to a points deduction for their financial problems)
- Paulo Di Canio's tenure in charge of Sunderland looks like it became this, sacked after less than 6 months in charge. The day he was appointed the vice chairman (former Labour MP David Miliband) resigned due to Di Canio's alleged fascist sympathies. A famous win over local rivals Newcastle seemed to help, but Sunderland then failed to win their remaining games and narrowly avoided relegation. Rumours of numerous fallings-out with high profile players resulted in several being sold. Despite many replacements being brought in, the team didn't appear to gel or get along with him at all, they didn't win any of their first 5 games, he was fined for complaining about the officials after losing to Arsenal, and received abuse from fans. Players have allegedly revolted, the team are bottom with just one point. Makes you wonder why they even bought him in to begin with? It Got Better though, see Miracle Rally.
- Every Year They Fizzle Out: The clubs that try to break into the top four each year, namely Manchester City and Tottenham, as well as Aston Villa. Liverpool could also be counted since every year could be the year they finally return to the pinnacle of League Football since 1990 but sadly never succeed.
- Averted in the 2009/10 season as in a close fought battle for 4th place between Tottenham, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Liverpool it was Tottenham who finished 4th. Liverpool slumped down to 7th thanks to poor form.
- Every single year the Liverpool fans seem to mark it as being "their year." They are, to this date, always wrong.
- While "every year" would be an exaggeration, Everton fans have done the same; 2013 has so far been a particularly painful example, after a fantastic season they suffered several epic curbstompings from lesser renowned teams.
- Arsenal have been stuck in this since the 05/06 season, they usually start brightly or make a challenge for the title only for something to happen such as Eduardo's broken leg or the 2011 League Cup defeat which takes the wind out of their sails and causes them to collapse. This is not helped by Wenger himself, who has constantly touted the squad as having great mental strength, blaming everyone but the players when things go wrong, refusing to invest in experienced players to assist what is arguably a talented young side and lately claiming that that finishing in 2nd place for the next 20 years is akin to winning titles. Although it is true that dozens of other clubs would love to be in their position, the constant squandering of great opportunities and an arrogant manager has caused several Arsenal fans to demand his sacking or at least admit that he needs to change.
- Funnily enough, inverted in the 2012/13 season. After a rough start (3 wins, 2 draws, 4 losses in their first ten league games, with most of the draws and losses being to teams they should have beaten handily) and a shaky mid-to-late season, Arsenal found themselves four points behind Tottenham for the fourth Champion's League spot. They played Tottenham at White Hart Lane, and lost, widening the gap to seven points. Following that match, and following a victory against Bayern Munich in the Champion's League Quarter Finals (they lost on aggregate), Arsenal came roaring back to go 7W-2D-0L in their last nine League games, beating out Tottenham and almost beating out Chelsea for third place as well.
- Executive Meddling: As mentioned under Cardiff City. The Vincent Tan era has been nothing but this. It essentially got them relegated as well; Malky Mackay appeared to be keeping them out of relegation, until Tan decided to sack him. Cardiff wound up imploding, finishing dead last. The only consolation was conceding less goals than Fulham!
- Five-Man Band: The famous Arsenal back line were like this.
- The Leader: Tony Adams.
- The Lancer: Steve Bould.(Later Martin Keown, as the aging Bould faded away.)
- The Smart Guy: Lee Dixon/Nigel Winterburn
- The Big Guy: David Seaman
- The Chick: The experienced David O'Leary (later Arsene Wenger for reforming the players' dietary habits and lifestyles, which extended all of their careers by at least five years.)
- For Want of a Nail: Bolton winger Chung-Yong Lee's season-ending injury in the 2011-12 preseason, along with other injuries to the squad including Stuart Holden and Fabrice Muamba, has apparently led to Bolton being relegated, Manchester City winning the 2011-12 title at the last second, and Queens Park Rangers avoiding relegation and signing Ji-Sung Park in the off-season.
- George Jetson Job Security: Sadly, this is the case with most Premier League clubs aside from Arsenal and Manchester United, who to date have had just three managers each since the formation of the Premier League. Chelsea in particular burned their way through seven managers in five-and-a-half years between Jose Mourinho's two spells at the club.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: All of the top Premier League clubs have worldwide fans and followings, but a particular one of note is Manchester United, who have a massive fanbase in Southeast Asia.
- Grumpy Old Man: The managers usually; Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger spring to mind.
- The above two are also examples of a Long Runner. Ferguson was in charge of Manchester United from 1986 until retiring in 2013, leaving Wenger as the next longest-tenured manager with his current club, having managed Arsenal since 1996.
- He's Back:
- Any team who wins promotion back to the league after previously being relegated.
- This also applies to any players coming back after long spells of injury or suspension. The most high profile may be Eric Cantona, who was suspended from football for eight months, with his return to the Manchester United squad actually being hyped up in the press as if it was an event.
- Kenny Dalglish returned to the Liverpool manager's chair in January 2011, almost exactly twenty years after he left it. Unfortunately the following season ended up being Liverpool's worst-ever Premier League season, and his second spell was cut short in May 2012.
- Paul Scholes retired from the Manchester United team at the end of the 2010/11 season, taking a coaching job at the club. However, with United scuffling thanks to a rash of injuries in the midfield, Scholes was coaxed out of retirement to anchor the center again, and the Ginger Ninja didn't miss a step. Although Man City took the 2012 crown, United took the title the following year, with improbable long-running vets Scholes (in his final season) and Ryan Giggs still showing they could keep up with players nearly half their age.
- Thierry Henry also returned briefly to Arsenal to maintain match fitness ahead of the new MLS season, while coming on as a substitute in all of his appearances he still scored three times, showing he had lost none of the class he had during his first spell. Sol Campbell and Jens Lehmann had also returned briefly in prior seasons to some acclaim.
- The reaction when former long-serving members of the league Norwich and Southampton came back up after 6- and 7-year exoduses respectively.
- José Mourinho returning as Chelsea manager.
- Lukas Podolski for Arsenal and Theo Walcott went out early in the 2013/14 season to injury. Walcott was handed his first start since his injury against West Ham United on Boxing Day, and Podolski was subbed in about halfway through the second half. Arsenal were down 1-0 68 minutes in, and then Walcott put in a goal to tie it up, then another one to take the lead. Then Podolski scored to seal the comeback victory for Arsenal.
- Liverpool spent several seasons outside the Champions League places, but during the 2013-14 season, they handed out curbstompings like sweets at Halloween, brutally crushing rivals Arsenal, Manchester United, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur with stylish attacking football spearheaded by 'the SAS' (Suarez and Sturridge) in an ultimately doomed attempt to claim the title, finishing in second place.
- Incompetence, Inc.: Sadly common among some lower-to-mid-table clubs:
- The aforementioned financial meltdown Leeds United had in the mid-2000s, fueled by both an unfulfilled expansion of Elland Road and an average payroll increase of 175% in the 5 years before they went bust, exacerbated by their chairman Peter Ridsdale taking out loans collateralized with Champions League money. And then...
- Bradford's "six weeks of madness" where they signed 3 guys to guaranteed wages of 40k/week...when their gate receipts couldn't supplement the wage bill!
- Blackburn Rovers from November 2011 until the present, when they were purchased by Indian poultry outfit Venky's.
- Portsmouth's collapse - from being owned (and possibly used as a money-laundering outfit) by Russian oligarch Alexandre Gaydamak, to being jerked around by Middle Eastern hucksters.
- Sheffield United's board in 2006-07 solely blamed the Carlos Tevez "scandal" for sending them down, despite not spending a penny on the squad and actually strip-mining the squad.
- Southampton in the early 2000s - their chairman knew nothing about football, and in fact preferred rugby.
- Licensed Game: The popularity of football in Europe means there are several video games, most notably Football Manager and the FIFA games. Of course not all games have permission to use likenesses or logos, but you can still play the leagues.
- The Football Manager game concept is considered Fun for Some in the United States subsequently; the NFL equivalent "Head Coach" was treated as a laughing stock by the videogame media and was eventually reduced to a minigame within Madden.
- Long Runner:
- First started in the 1992-93 season, and in its current format of 20 teams since 1995-96. Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have remained in the league since its inception.
- Ryan Giggs is the longest serving player in the history of the league, having made his début for Manchester United in 1990 and remained a first-team regular untul his retirement in 2014. After retirement, he immediately became United's assistant coach, so he's still involved with both United and the Premier League despite no longer being an active player.
- Sir Alex Ferguson is the longest serving manager in league history, first taking charge of Manchester United in 1986 until his retirement in 2013. The longest serving active manager is Arsene Wenger, who took charge of Arsenal in 1996 and is also the second longest serving manager in the history of the league.
- Miracle Rally: Teams have been known to overturn two-goal deficits to grab draws or even victories. Manchester United overturned a three-goal deficit to win 5-3 against Tottenham in 2001, and in Februrary 2011, Newcastle pulled back from four goals down with thirty minutes to go, to draw 4-4 against Arsenal. One week after the result at St James' Park, West Ham came back from 3 down against West Bromwich Albion. At the end of the season in question, West Brom came from 3 down to draw with Newcastle.
- Arsenal beating Chelsea 5-3 at Stamford Bridge counts. Losing at half time 2-1 they scored twice early on in the second half to make it 3-2. Only for Chelsea to equalize thanks to a stunning Mata goal with 10 minutes to go. Only for van Persie to pop up to score twice inside 5 minutes to result in a second miracle rally! Considering most people had written Arsenal off due to a weakened team and after that 8-2 defeat to Man Utd, it was a sign that they had managed to develop a side capable of pushing for a top spot in the table. Highlights included that Mata goal, Terry falling over and gifting van Persie his second and Walcott falling over surrounded by 4 Chelsea players, then getting up and running through them to score.
- Chelsea lost a 3 goal lead home to Manchester United in a 3-3 draw in Februrary 2012, aided by David De Gea's save preserving Man U's rally.
- Wolves 4-3 Leicester in 2003-04, and Leicester - with 10 men - rallying from 3-1 down to draw 4-4 at a Spurs side who lost a 3-0 lead to 10-man Manchester City in that season's FA cup. The season ended with Wolves and Leicester down and Spurs were at 14th.
- Liverpool lost a 3-0 lead at Crystal Palace in 2013-14, which all but ended their title challenge.
- See Who Needs Overtime.
- Quite possibly the most literal and remarkable example of this trope. Sunderland in 2013/14 were bottom, 7 points from safety with 6 games to go. Gus Poyet commented that he needed a miracle in order to survive. Well, there then followed a 2-2 draw with Man City, and then wins against Man Utd and Chelsea (at Stamford Bridge!). End result, 13 points scored in those 6 games! As a result, Sunderland stayed up, becoming only the second club to survive the 'Curse of Christmas'. Fittingly, the last team that lost against them during this streak was West Bromwich Albion, the only other team to survive having been bottom at Christmas. Poyet later remarked that he had "found his miracle."
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: A rather bizarre example on the last day of the 2011-12 season, when QPR's Joey Barton got sent off in the match against Manchester City. Rather than just leaving the pitch gracefully, Barton chose to start a brawl, culminating in over five minutes of injury time which ultimately gave City the time they needed to score the two goals that won them the title. This nearly doubled up as a Nice Job Breaking It, Hero from QPR's perspective, as the result would have caused them to be relegated if not for Bolton failing to beat Stoke on the same day.
- One-Man Army: Regularly features players who can tear apart entire teams on their own. Examples include:
- Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, for Arsenal.
- Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen, Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez for Liverpool.
- Wayne Rooney first for Everton, then for Manchester United.
- David Silva and Yaya Toure for Manchester City.
- Tottenham used to have Gareth Bale.
- Opposing Sports Team: Every club has rivals. Arsenal have Tottenham, Manchester United have Manchester City, Liverpool have Everton, etc. Expect those matches to be pretty tense and hot. The Everton-Liverpool tie has produced the most red cards in the League.
- Oral Fixation: If he wasn't down in the pitch screaming about something, Sir Alex Ferguson could mostly be seen up in Old Trafford's plush manager's chair, chewing away at gum.
- Owner Appeal: Cardiff City's nickname is the Bluebirds, and their traditional kit colors are blue. Their new owner's favorite color is red. So he changed the kit for the 2013/14 season. The fans weren't happy.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Wigan won the FA Cup in 2013, only to become the first team in history win the FA Cup and be relegated from the Premier League in the same year.
- Rank Inflation: The Premiership was formerly known as the First Division.
- Real Song Theme Tune: TV coverage of live match days open with "Written In The Stars" by Tinie Tempah in the UK and Ireland. Abroad, they open with "Fire" by Kasabian.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: John Terry retired from international football in 2012 when the FA opted to charge him for using racially offensive language against Anton Ferdinand, even though he had been cleared in a court of law.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Between 1998 and 2002, Leeds United were regarded as having one of the finest young teams in the country, and being the club most likely to break Manchester United and Arsenal's stranglehold on the title. They ended up winning nothing despite runs to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup and Champions League, got into more debt than any club before or since (barring Manchester United and Portsmouth), got relegated in 2004, and then came within a hair's breadth of being expelled from the Football League altogether in 2007 after being relegated again and starting the new season with a fifteen point deduction. They eventually got back into the Championship in 2010, only to fall back into financial trouble four years later. Tellingly, the only person even remotely interested in buying them when that happened was maverick Italian owner Massimo Cellino (a convicted criminal), suggesting that the club's reputation is too badly damaged for them ever to return to their "big club" status. The real kicker was that the key members of their 1998-2002 squad ended up winning trophies at their deadly rivals, Manchester United and Liverpool.
- To a lesser extent, Newcastle United, whose big-spending and good league finishes also failed to translate into any actual honours (apart from an Intertoto Cup win in 2006... and that's stretching it, to say the least). For the moment though, it looks as if their decline and relegation was only a temporary setback.
- Spin-Off: Basically what the Premier League is when the teams broke away. A common rumor during the early 2000s which has sprung up was that Europe's biggest clubs would break away to form a European Super League, which has died down a lot and never really got further than rumours. How it would have worked if it had happened is unknown. Lately comments from managers have arisen again about forming a league due to wanting the best teams to play the best, and also due to money.
- Team Spirit: Averted when one player has a falling out with his team or manager and tells all in a tabloid. The fallout can be immense. At the time of writing, the most recent spectacular example is of John Terry and Wayne Bridge, former Chelsea team-mates still playing together in the England team. It emerged that Terry had had an affair with Bridge's ex-girlfriend. Terry was demoted from England captain, while Bridge declined to play for England at all...
- Hell, the entire league with the exception of one team supported Bridge after this came out. The one team that didn't, was Chelsea - the side John Terry is captain of.
- It should probably be said that the details of what exactly happened are not really clear. Bridge's ex-girlfriend has since denied any such affair, while the press are adamant that it did happen.
- Caused some additional interest as Chelsea were supposed to play Manchester City shortly after the affair was leaked. This caused people to wonder if Bridge would offer the customary handshake to Terry once the teams came out onto the pitch; he moved his hand out of the way instead. Nobody disputed this decision.
- Other examples include David Beckham getting a boot thrown at his face by Alex Ferguson after a falling out in 2003. He needed stitches above his eye.
- Although neither example is as spectacular as an incident at a Newcastle-Aston Villa match in 2005, in which Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer, in the same Newcastle side, actually started throwing punches at each other. Predictably, both got sent off.
- Tempting Fate: The aforementioned "I'd love it if we beat them" interview, which led to Manchester United beating Newcastle in the final standings.
- Jose Mourinho has a reputation for saying polarizing things in his post-match interviews, or frankly, any of his interviews. At one point in the 2013-14 season, he called Arsene Wenger a "specialist in failure," much to the anger of the Arsenal fans. As the season progressed, Chelsea were still in the running for the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League, but were knocked out of the latter by eventual winners Atletico Madrid, and only came third in the league. To add insult to injury, Arsenal won the FA Cup at the end of the year, meaning Wenger had won more that year than Mourinho.
- After beating Manchester City 3-2 in April 2014, Liverpool went top of the table. Steven Gerrard, immediately after the match, got his players in a huddle and told them "this does not slip!" and "every game is like a Champion's League final!" Two weeks later, Liverpool faced a Chelsea side who were in the middle of a Champions League semi-final, missing their two best players from injuries sustained in the first leg of that semi-final (one of their centre-backs was making his Premier League debut!) and had all but dropped out of the title race after losing to Sunderland a week earlier. Just before half-time, Gerrard slipped over, and Chelsea's striker ran unimpeded into the Liverpool area to put his side ahead. Liverpool spent the rest of the match trying to break down the Chelsea defence, and in stoppage time one of their players gave the ball away cheaply, allowing two Chelsea attackers to advance on the Liverpool goalkeeper and score again. Liverpool then drew 3-3 at Crystal Palace to all but lose their grip on the title, in a match very much like their CL final victory in 2005!
- Token Minority: Before the 90s foreign players were rare in the English game, now not so much...
- Some people argued that Ji-Sung Park's inclusion in the Manchester United squad was principally to placate the club's massive Asian fanbase, and to keep them interested. Considering that Shinji Kagawa, who some say "replaced" Park as the token East Asian player in 2012, petered out after a couple of seasons and went back to Dortmund, it's safe to say that Park had enough talent to justify his longevity in the team.
- Due to the richest teams simply buying up the best players from around the world rather than training up local talent (one of the factors which damaged the England national football team), FA rules now dictate a minimum number of native English players that each team has to employ, making them something of a Token Majority.
- During the 2014/15 season, the lack of ethnic-minority managers in the Premier League (and the Football League in general) has come under scrutinynote , with calls for an introduction of the "Rooney Rule", which would require clubs to interview a Token Minority candidate whenever they hire a new manager (which can be fairly often). Whether this will have any impact, or is even necessary to address the balance, is subject to intense debate.
- We Will Meet Again: Every club plays each other twice a season, once at home and once away. This trope also extends to the fact that every year, one club claims they will be able to breach the 'big four' and secure a Champions League place. They tend to fail quite easily.
- Chelsea and Liverpool met in five consecutive Champions' League tournaments.
- Everton did it in 2005 - then Liverpool won the Champions' League!
- Everton then failed to even get past the qualifying stagesnote
- Tottenham in 2009/10.
- Manchester City in 2010/11
- We Win Because You Didn't:
- Naturally this comes into play, especially late in the season for teams vying for the Top 4 spots. The Arsenal fans take it one step further, having their own celebration when there is literally no chance of Tottenham Hotspur finishing ahead of them in the table, no matter where in the table it might be.
- Recent years have seen another Arsenal celebration pop up. Known as 'Invincibles Day', it occurs on the day the last unbeaten side in the league loses, therefore ensuring no team will emulate Arsenal's unbeaten season of 2003/04.
- In the 2013/14 season, defending champions Manchester United suffered a collapse that left them struggling to even get into the European qualification places, never mind challenge for the title. As the season came down to Manchester City vs. Liverpool (United's most hated rivals), it appeared most United fans were rooting for City, purely because Liverpool have the second highest number of league titles after United, and United fans were hoping that they wouldn't have to see Liverpool close the gap.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Kevin Keegan's "I'd love it if we beat them" rant during the 1995/96 season. Newcastle looked all but secure at the top of the table with a few games left. Manchester United won the league.
- And Rafa Benitez's "facts" rant in 2008/09.
- Eric Cantona jumped into the crowd to try to karate kick a Crystal Palace fan.
- Craig Bellamy once whacked a team-mate with a golf club.
- Joey Barton has done too much to list.
- Steven Gerrard once hit a DJ for (allegedly) not playing his choice of music.
- The amount of players who have been caught cheating on their wives, including Ryan Giggs, John Terry, Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch and (allegedly) Steven Gerrard.
- John Terry being accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand - it cost Terry the England captaincy for the second time in his career, because the police charged him over the incident and the trial was adjourned until after the 2012 European Championships; then there's Luis Suarez being accused of doing the same thing to Patrice Evra. Bizarrely, Suarez admitted to calling Evra a racist name, but is convinced that he did nothing wrong. Both incidents occurred within weeks of one another.
- This trope also appeared to extend to Liverpool themselves, suffering criticism for defending Suarez despite him admitting what he did. When the two teams met again Suarez refused Evra's offer to shake his hand despite saying he would before the game! Evra himself also appeared to try and wind up Suarez after the game. Dalgish's comments after the game resulted in both of them having to apologize the day after, which appears to have finally settled the issue.
- This has notably turned into a case of Never Live It Down for Everton FC; to this day Everton supporters seem to boo the loudest towards Luis Suarez and commonly chant "Luis Suarez, we know what you are!" Seems to be a mix between this trope and simple rivalry.
- Luis Suarez again, after biting the arm of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during a match between the teams. Amazingly this was in fact the second time he'd bitten an opposition player, the first occurring during his Ajax days, though that time he actually drew blood.
- Jermaine Defoe biting Javier Mascherano.
- Roman Abramovich is now getting this from a few people for sacking the man who delivered Chelsea the Champions League on the back of four straight defeats. Di Matteo was in charge a mere 8 months.
- Chelsea winger Eden Hazard initially got this for an altercation with a ballboy during a match against Swansea. However, the ballboy lost virtually all sympathy when further information came to light. (He was the 17-year-old son of a Swansea director (the average ballboy is aged 12 or under), and had boasted on Twitter about intending to waste time during the match.)
- Who Needs Overtime: Injury time, and occasionally a team will score a goal to salvage a win or a point. Manchester United seem to do this often, so much that it's now got a reputation as Fergie Time. Arsenal are running them close though.
- Ironically came back to bite them in the close of the 2011-2012 season:
- With four matches to go in the season, United were leading the league with their rivals Manchester City five points behind. Then they played Everton and were up 4-2 with ten minutes to go when Everton scored twice to claim a 4-4 draw. This, followed by a City victory when they met United in their next match, allowed City to tie them in points (leading in goal difference) until the final day of the season.
- On said final day, after 90 minutes, City were down 2-1 to Queen's Park Rangers (who at that time were on the brink of relegation) but had five minutes of stoppage time still to play, while United were leading Sunderland 1-0 and had three minutes of stoppage time. City equalised two minutes into injury time, and mere seconds after the final whistle blew at United's match, City scored again to win 3-2 and earn their first championship since 1968.