Top five best PL teams never to win a trophy
3 months ago, 8 Mar 16:44
David O’Leary’s Leeds United 1999-2001 The spectacular fall from grace that immediately followed Leeds United’s run to the Champions League semi-finals has since somewhat overshadowed what David O’Leary’s “babies” achieved around the turn of the Millennium. Hardly surprising, given Peter Ridsdale’s attempts at “living the dream” came perilously close to the nightmare of ruin. But before Ridsdale was spluffing all the money on Seth Johnson and aquariums, O’Leary had assembled some mighty Whites. After taking the job following Martin O’Neill’s surprising refusal to do so, O’Leary promoted several youth team prospects with the likes of Jonathan Woodgate, Alan Smith and Harry Kewell justifying the manager’s faith by reaching the UEFA Cup semi finals in 1999-2000. The following season, having qualified for the Champions League and supplemented their squad with the signings of Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Keane and Mark Viduka, Leeds went toe-to-toe with Barcelona, Real Madrid and AC Milan on their way to the semi-finals, where they were beaten by eventual runners-up Valencia. However, despite losing only one game during the second half of the Premier League season, Leeds missed out on another year in the Champions League, finishing fourth by a single point. This turned out to be catastrophic for the club, which had banked on prolonged involvement in the competition and had taken out huge loans based on that predicted revenue. It all unravelled on the pitch too, with O’Leary’s decision to release an autobiography – ‘Leeds United On Trial’ – around the time of Woodgate and Lee Bowyer’s court cases leading to dressing room upheaval and splits within the club. They finished fifth in 2001-02, again missing out on a Champions League spot, leading to O’Leary’s sacking. The frightening descent had begun, and within five years, they found themselves in League One. Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle 1992-97 It’s been 63 years since Newcastle won a major honour, but that’s not to say they haven’t come close in the meantime. Sir Bobby Robson’s side, featuring Alan Shearer, Gary Speed, Craig Bellamy and Kieron Dyer, replaced Leeds as the side most likely to shake up the Premier League’s top four, which they did by reaching the Champions League twice. As close as Sir Bobby came to ending Newcastle’s quest for glory, his team never quite made the Toon Army dream like Kevin Keegan’s entertainers in the mid-1990s. Keegan took Newcastle from the First Division straight up towards the top of the Premier League, securing third and sixth place finishes before they really went for it in 1995-96, having signed Les Ferdinand and David Ginola. By mid-January in 1996, the Toon held a 12-point lead at the summit and looked almost unstoppable by the time they strengthened further with the recruitment of Faustino Asprilla and David Batty. However, despite leading Man Utd by 17 points in mid-January, after THAT meeting between the two clubs in early March, their lead was cut to just a single point. Alex Ferguson and his young side had smelled blood and Newcastle wilted, losing five ...
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