He will also be forever remembered for telling manager Kenny Dalglish in 1995: ‘Why do you want to sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood? In the FA Cup semi-final against Everton in 2016, he saved a penalty from Romelu Lukaku and after the game he’s just like, “OK, that happened. What do you want to do tomorrow?” It’s like a student handing in an assignment and moving on. The Brondby players also decided to auction their kit off after the game – with all the money raised being sent to help the Ukrainian children suffering during the war. Without ever having won much silverware, which he has in common with most of his British contemporaries, he has become intrinsic to the fabric of the English game. He twice broke the transfer record paid by an English club, buying Alan Shearer for £3.6m then Chris Sutton for £5m. The idea for the foundation came from being at the Boys Club,’ he says.
One could make a case for dozens of different managers being influential in the Premier League, from those in the LMA’s ‘1,000 club’ – who’ve managed 1,000 games at all levels, at least some in the Premier League, like Roy Hodgson, Dave Bassett, Ron Atkinson, Neil Warnock, Jim Smith and Redknapp himself – to long-serving dependables including Sam Allardyce, Martin O’Neill, Tony Pulis, Steve Bruce and Alan Curbishley among others. After impressing in a pre-season friendly against Manchester United, Ronaldo moved to Old Trafford before going on to become one of the greatest players of all-time. Before becoming one of the Premier League’s most accomplished defenders under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Rio Ferdinand was operating in far less daunting surroundings. “For Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo will always be one of its greatest symbols and a unique reference for the next generations. There have been some real shockers. Liverpool fans outnumbered Real Madrid’s following in the 63,000-capacity crowd. Page seven of Lord Taylor’s final report into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster begins: ‘It is a depressing and chastening fact that mine is the ninth official report covering crowd safety and control at football grounds.’ That alone spoke volumes about the institutional reluctance until that time to treat supporters well, or even like humans.
In almost 13 years at United, a chunk of that as captain, he won seven PL titles, four FA Cups and was a driving force in the 1998-99 Champions League if not the final. During his first match for United, he scored twice and that was the start of his excellent career at the club. That in turn led to the catastrophic meltdown of Pompey and their tumble down the divisions, to the fourth tier, where they will start a third successive season in 2015-16, having been FA Cup winners in 2008 and in the top flight as recently as 2010. Portsmouth’s demise directly led to the Premier League amending all sorts of ownership rules, man u jersey monitoring processes and pre-takeover ‘surveillance’ of buyers in an attempt to ensure such a situation is never repeated. The Senegal-born Frenchman joined Arsenal in late summer 1996 and stayed until 2005. That first season the Gunners had their best campaign in six years to finish third. Vieira, latterly the Gunners captain, was instrumental as they won three titles, two of them as Doubles, one as Invincibles and also won FA Cups in 2003 and 2005. Vieira left, and Arsenal didn’t win another trophy for nine years.
The Frenchman’s trophy tally while in the Premier League was relatively modest, at two titles, albeit one as part of a Double and the other as an Invincible, and two other FA Cups. Tracksuits and distinctive black and deep-blue training gear are part of the collection pack, while a pure white ‘Anthem Jacket’ will be worn as the players walk out ahead of their matches in Russia. Grass-roots contracts are not like those in the Premier League. Today a legitimate debate continues about the return of safe standing but one thing is clear: Taylor’s report was a game-changer, not just because of the all-seat Premier League it heralded but because he said minimal standards were not good enough and that a ‘vision and imagination to achieve a new ethos for football’ was required. He was one of the last great English local businessmen philanthropists who ploughed their money into their hometown club and made it count via glory.
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