As the Champions League went on hold for a couple of months,
attention switched back to the domestic challenge, but United's
form started to fall apart. They drew at Chelsea and managed to
squeeze a 1-0 win at Elland Road against title challengers Arsenal,
but there was little else to celebrate apart from the arrival
of a couple of big names.
David O'Leary had been trying to strengthen his squad further
all season and progress in Europe brought new cash to the club.
He had been chasing West Ham's classy England defender Rio Ferdinand
for months, but it was still a shock when the clubs agreed an
£18million pound deal, a world record for a defender. Ferdinand
was given a hero's welcome by the Leeds crowd after being introduced
to them before the game with Arsenal.
Ferdinand, who has spent his entire career to date with West
Ham, said he had been won over by the ambition of Peter Ridsdale.
"It came as a big surprise when West Ham accepted the bid," he
said. "But as soon as I spoke to the Leeds chairman, it was obvious
they were a club which matched my ambitions. West Ham need to
make money so it was a good deal for both parties. The Leeds manager
David O'Leary was a world-class centre-half himself and that had
a big effect on me. It doesn't bother me which formation I play
as long as I am out on the pitch. The price tag doesn't concern
me - it is made up by the money men like Mr Ridsdale and the chairman
of West Ham."
Ferdinand also became the most expensive British and Premiership
player, passing the £15million Newcastle spent on Alan Shearer
from Blackburn in 1996. Many were staggered by the size of the
fee given that the very existence of the transfer market was uncertain.
But Ridsdale said: "We are in a market economy, when a rare commodity
becomes available you have to pay a price. I don't think the transfer
system will be abolished, it will be amended."
Leeds were not yet finished in that market, and Ferdinand was
soon joined in the squad by gifted young Irish striker Robbie
on an initial six month loan deal from Inter Milan. Keane had
been frozen out since moving to Italy and was enthusiastic about
a move to Leeds. Chairman Peter Ridsdale also secured an option
to buy Keane for £12m in the close season if things worked out.
The striker chose the Elland Road club ahead of Chelsea, West
Ham and Aston Villa when given the opportunity by his club. Ridsdale
said: "Talking to the lad, you can see his confidence hasn't suffered.
He has an abundance of talent and we look forward to seeing it
on the football pitch.
"We thank Inter Milan for their co-operation in this matter -
there was a huge amount of interest in Robbie and it is to their
credit that they asked him his preference and we are delighted
he chose Leeds."
United decided not to buy Keane outright following the purchase
of Ferdinand. Ridsdale explained: "After the £18m signing of Rio
Ferdinand, we felt it imprudent to spend another £12m immediately
- but by structuring a loan formula we have the player we want
now without impacting on our financial position. As a PLC, we
have a duty to our shareholders to ensure that we manage our resources
with maximum efficiency."
Ridsdale stated that money would have to be sought to finance
the purchase and there were three exits during the autumn as Robert
Molenaar (to Bradford £500,000), Matthew Jones (Leicester £3.2m)
and Darren Huckerby (Manchester City £3.2m) all left Elland Road.
It was rumoured that left back Ian Harte would follow them after
losing his place to Dominic Matteo, but the Irishman fought his
way back into the side.
Despite the arrival of two of the most gifted British players
around, however, Leeds were struggling. Surprisingly, this coincided
with the return from injury of a number of their crocks. Batty,
Kewell, Wilcox, Woodgate, Martyn and Radebe were all now back
in contention, but the side's form dipped badly. They had bad
home defeats in the Premiership to West Ham, Aston Villa and Newcastle
and could do nothing right on their travels. A scrappy 1-0 win
at Elland Road in the Cup against Barnsley counted for nothing
when two late goals by Liverpool at the same venue put them out
in the next round.
back to top
It was a mystery and O'Leary sought in vain for the solution.
He said that he thought some of it was down to the distraction
of the upcoming trial of Woodgate and Bowyer for an alleged racist
attack the previous season, but the two individuals (and particularly
the dynamic midfielder) were in fine form and playing consistently
However, things started to settle down and despite both Viduka
and Smith enduring a goal drought, Keane came into his own, at
one time having a spell of five goals in five League games. Ferdinand
was bedding in well at the back, although Radebe and Woodgate
were having to share the other central defensive position after
attempts to play with three centre backs went badly wrong. January
was more promising and Leeds won 4-0 at Manchester City, 2-1 at
Villa and beat Coventry 1-0. Newcastle managed a smash and grab
3-1 win at Elland Road, but it looked like the side had turned
some sort of corner as they entered February.
Leeds won 2-1 at Ipswich in the Premiership on February 3, and
even though they were disappointed by the two draws which followed
against Derby and Everton, they had by now climbed all the way
back up to fifth place, within striking distance of qualification
for Europe the following season.
The high profile trial of Bowyer, Woodgate, Duberry and reserve
forward Tony Hackworth commenced during February and the players
could have been forgiven for letting their minds wander, but Bowyer
reached new heights, as if in defiance of what was happening around
him. As in 1999-2000, he was in superb form in Europe and scored
the winner as Leeds had to come from behind in the home
game with Anderlecht as the Champions League kicked off again.
It was the midfielder's fifth European goal of the season, but
he picked up a booking in that match and was suspended for the
return a week later in Brussels.
In one of the greatest nights in the club's history Leeds devastated
the Belgian team who had earlier beaten Manchester United and
who had a long winning sequence on their own pitch. They were
3-0 up at half time as Smith and Viduka recovered the form in
front of goal that had deserted them. Anderlecht pulled a goal
back in the second half, but in the latter stages, the referee
awarded Leeds a penalty for a foul on Viduka and Harte rocketed
it home, to finish off a breathtaking
4-1 win. Like Bowyer, Smith was demonstrating an aptitude
for unlocking European defences, and he had also now got five
in the competition, with four of them coming in away matches.
Even better news was to follow as confirmation came through that
Real Madrid and Lazio had drawn 2-2 at the Bernabeau Stadium.
The result meant that Leeds could not be caught by either Anderlecht
or Lazio, and that they had qualified for the last eight, along
with Real, the first English club to do so that year. For a second
time, Leeds had emerged from a so-called group of death, and bettered
back to top
From there it was back to the Premiership and Leeds followed
up their famous away victory in Belgium by putting paid to another
club's lengthy unbeaten home run. It was doubly satisfying for
manager O'Leary for the 2-1 victory came against his old mentor
George Graham of Spurs. The White Hart Lane club were in disarray
and it was soon afterwards that ENIC, the new owners at Tottenham,
showed the Scot the door. Leeds showed no mercy in despatching
the London club and Bowyer demonstrated that he could do it in
British football as well when he cut across the area from the
right to fire home the winner.
That set up the side for the major challenge of facing leaders
and bitter rivals Manchester United at Elland Road on March 3.
The Old Trafford club were 16 points of second placed Arsenal
and looked certain winners of the Premiership. Despite all the
recent improvement in form, Leeds were still down in 6th and a
victory looked beyond them, but the sight of those red shirts
always brought out a determination in the Elland Road players
and they set about the United defence with a relish.
It was a typically bad tempered encounter with few chances, but
as half time approached, Leeds got a golden chance to take the
lead when United keeper Fabien Barthez flicked out his foot at
Ian Harte following a corner. The referee did not hesitate and
awarded a penalty. The Elland Road faithful bayed for the dismissal
of Barthez but he stayed to face Harte's penalty.
The Irishman was normally coolness personified at dead ball situations
and was lethal from the spot, but on this occasion his shot was
not as crisp as normal and the Frenchman saved it. Leeds went
in at half time badly deflated with nothing to show for their
Worse was to follow after 63 minutes when Nigel Martyn fumbled
a long range United effort and substitute Luke Chadwick followed
up quicker than anybody else for an easy sidefoot into an empty
net. Leeds looked devastated and it seemed that would be game,
set and match.
However, O'Leary's men had discovered the old spirit and attitude
of the Revie team of the Sixties and Seventies and they fought
their way back in as the game wore on. With seven minutes to go,
full back Danny Mills, in the middle of a purple patch of form,
stormed up the right and dispossessed an unconvincing United defender.
He raced to the byeline and pulled back a perfect cross. Alan
Smith flicked the ball on with his head at the front post and
Mark Viduka came flying in at the back to guide his header home
and put Leeds back on terms.
In the closing minutes, Leeds
pressed again on the right and Bowyer crossed into the area. United's
young England defender Wes Brown panicked under pressure and stuck
his boot out, deflecting the ball into his own net. The United
ranks looked dishevelled and distraught as Leeds began to celebrate.
But referee Graham Barber disallowed the goal for offside to tear
away the gloss on what would have been a breathtaking win.
back to top
Leeds were devastated not to have won but had shown what they
could do against a side that were easily the strongest around.
Harry Kewell, now back from the injury which had kept him out
for most of the season, had tortured United from the left wing
and shown all his old tricks after coming on as sub for Dominic
Matteo. They may have been disappointed, but Leeds were entering
a period of excellent and irresistible form.
Brian Kidd had by now become O'Leary's assistant after a spell
as Blackburn manager and years as Alex Ferguson's right hand man
at Old Trafford. The prospect of a clash with his old boss clearly
It was already clear to people at Leeds that while Viduka, Ferdinand,
Dacourt and Keane had all been good buys, Kidd may have been the
cleverest. "I don't believe I am an insecure person," said O'Leary.
"If I had, I wouldn't have brought Brian on board. He did it as
a player, he was a brilliant coach with Man United and he was
a Premiership manager at Blackburn, but I wanted him to work with
"When we played Man United at Elland Road, it was Brian's first
match as head coach and I couldn't help noticing how United's
players were so happy to see him again. They were all over him
and I know our players feel the same."
Kidd had sharpened up Leeds' act, working hard on their tactics
and dead ball situations. He honed an already strong side and
was at least partly instrumental in improving the side's form.
Viduka and Smith had started to recover their earlier scoring
form and it was their goals which saw off Charlton and Sunderland,
both battling for UEFA Cup spots, to lift Leeds to third spot
in the Premiership by the end of March. Arsenal looked clear as
runners up, but Leeds were locked in a desperate three way battle
with Liverpool and surprise club Ipswich for the remaining Champions
League qualification spot.
The Anfield club looked odds on favourites as they had by far
the best goal difference and had matches in hand, but Leeds still
had visits to Anfield and Highbury to come.
April saw Leeds hit a patch of amazing form which kicked off
with a startling 3-0 win at
Elland Road when they welcomed Spain's Deportivo La Coruna
in the first leg of the Champions League quarter finals. Rio Ferdinand
had taken over as captain in the place of Lucas Radebe, who had
sustained an injury against Real Madrid and was out for the rest
of the season. Ferdinand had now formed a solid centre back partnership
with Dominic Matteo and headed Leeds' third goal from a corner
against Deportivo to wrap up the first leg and scored again a
couple of weeks later to give Leeds the lead when
the club played their vital match away to Liverpool, coming away
with a shock 2-1 win.
back to top
The team was now on fire and much of the surge in form was down
to the pairing in midfield of Olivier Dacourt and the restored
Batty, who had brought a calming assurance and authority to the
side. Many critics had felt that a Batty-Dacourt pairing would
have been overly defensive, but the duo were complementing each
David Batty had his own doubts about the combination and described
things thus in his autobiography:
"Against Boro (on New Year's Day) we were substandard again.
It was the first time Olly Dacourt and I played together in central
midfield, and it just didn't work. We were too similar, with me
slipping instinctively into my role as the anchor man and Olly
unable to free himself from the same job, which he had been doing
for months in my absence. We were both playing too deep and I
had instant misgivings about our ability to play together. Now,
I've never been short on self-belief, but I admit that the thought
flashed through my mind that one of us would have to go if we
didn't sort this out - and that it might well be me.
"Me and Olly were paired together again for the trip to Ipswich
early in February. Ipswich had stunned us with an early season
win at Elland Road, but, by now, the promoted Suffolk outfit was
recognised as the shock team of the season. So our win at Portman
Road was a significant one and, with me and Olly gelling properly
for the first time, the day was a turning point in our season.
"By the time of the Anderlecht matches (in February) me
and Olly were getting better and better as a midfield pairing.
We were starting to complement each other. Olly knew instinctively
that I would be in position behind him if he moved forward, and
I had similar confidence in him. We were working hard for each
other, a crucial necessity in the centre of the park, which is
always the hardest area of the pitch to control. If you get that
control you usually win, and we were starting to do that. Yet
it was something we never discussed, not even during our sluggish
start in the side together. I think that good players have an
innate ability to know what is required of them and to produce
it. That is what happened with us."
Leeds had now suddenly become the form side in England and favourites
for third place. They were fast catching up Arsenal who had stumbled
badly when losing 3-0 at home to Middlesbrough a day after Leeds'
Good Friday triumph at Anfield.
During the week, however, matters had come to a head in the trial
involving Bowyer and Woodgate in that the Sunday Mirror of April
8 had carried an inflammatory interview with the father of the
victim of the alleged assault
in which he repeated all sorts of accusations that there had been
racial motivation. The following day, the judge presiding over
the trial called a halt to proceedings when it was found that
at least one member of the jury had seen the report over the weekend.
He reasoned that a verdict would not have been safe in the circumstances
and ordered that a retrial should be arranged for the following
back to top
An assault on an Asian student had taken place outside the Majestyk
nightclub in Leeds in January 2000. Midfielder Lee Bowyer and
defender Jonathan Woodgate, along with reserve forward Tony Hackworth
had been charged with grievous bodily harm with intent, along
with two friends. Michael Duberry was also charged with conspiracy
to pervert the course of justice.
Duberry and Hackworth were acquitted, but while the jury were
out considering their verdicts on Woodgate, Bowyer and the others,
a number of them saw the article in the Sunday Mirror. Mr Justice
Poole, presiding said "It is, to put it mildly, not at all desirable
that a crime and therefore a suspect, should be labelled racist
when it is the prosecution submission they are no such thing.
The whole misleading issue of a racial motivation which the prosecution
and defence have sought to exorcise has been revived and placed
before the jury in highly emotive terms." The judge said there
was "a clear and substantial risk of prejudice raised by the article",
adding that justice would not be served if the trial continued.
It was an astonishing chain of events, which meant that the defendants
would have the cloud hanging over them for another six months
at least. It was bizarre and Peter Ridsdale spoke openly of his
club's astonishment at the turn of events. That Bowyer could continue
his excellent form and score at Anfield was testament to the fortitude
of his character. It was also revealed that for the last few months
Woodgate had not been missing through injury, but that the spectacle
of the trial was proving too much for him to endure and he was
being rested for other reasons.
The bombshell at least meant that both players were available
for selection for the return leg against Deportivo, although Woodgate
was not to play again before the end of the season. Leeds travelled
to Spain with the security of a 3-0 lead behind them but were
thrown into panic when Harry Kewell gave away a penalty early
on following a push at a corner. A second goal went in before
half time to further reduce the arrears, but the beleaguered Leeds
defence held on throughout the second half to progress after a
3-2 aggregate win.
There was more good news before the end of April, when striker
Robbie Keane, who had been on loan since December, completed his
£11 million transfer from Inter Milan. Leeds came to an agreement
with the Italians over payment and the Republic of Ireland striker
signed a five-year deal.
Peter Ridsdale explained that the fee for the 20-year-old would
be paid in instalments over a three year period. "The funds are
in place and are part of a three-year deal," the United chairman
said. "The money for the transfer fee of 11 million pounds has
already been covered by guarantee. This means that we are not
trying to sell players in the summer merely to find the money
to pay for Robbie Keane, because that deal is done and, with it
being a foreign transfer, we can pay the balance over a three-and-a-half
back to top
Keane himself was delighted with the move. "It has been very
frustrating but there is nothing I can do about it," he said.
"I knew when I came here I wouldn't be able to play in the Champions
League games this season. But now we have put ourselves in a good
position to qualify for the competition again next season. There
are still some tough games between now and the end of the season,
but we just have to keep going and try to finish it on a high
after our good run since the turn of the year."
Manchester United and Arsenal had been eliminated from the Champions
League, leaving the Yorkshiremen as England's sole representative
in the Champions League, with a semi final battle against Valencia
to come. The Spaniards had ousted Arsenal and in 1999-2000 had
reached the final before losing to Real Madrid, so represented
In the run in to that challenge, Leeds managed to continue their
good form in the Premiership, with a 2-0 win at West Ham and a
victory at Elland Road against Chelsea, thanks to two late goals
from substitute Keane and Viduka, with a powerful drive after
muscling his way past Marcel Desailly. David Batty had been sent
off for an elbow on West Ham's Joe Cole in the first match and
now faced suspension from the club's final three domestic matches,
including the crucial trip to Arsenal.
Those vital and timely goals against Chelsea had preserved Leeds'
third position, but their rivals were proving extremely resilient
in maintaining their challenge. Liverpool, in particular, were
making a habit of securing late wins and the form of Elland Road
old boy Gary McAllister was galvanising the Anfield club. They
had a far superior goal difference to both Ipswich and Leeds and
looked ominously strong.
The top of the table now read:
David O'Leary seemed to be writing off Leeds' chances of qualifying
for the Champions' League through the Premiership, although many
judges put that down to the Irishman playing psychological games.
But when O'Leary promised that he would be resting players in
the match at Highbury, it seemed he was serious. The Arsenal match
came in between the two legs of the semi final with Valencia and
O'Leary had unsuccessfully attempted to get the match postponed,
but the Premiership were having none of it.
The first leg at home to Valencia on May 2 saw the Leeds side
look very weary and strained and they carved out few openings
against a side which were assured and confident, with Mendieta
living up to his star billing on the right flank.
back to top
Ian Harte gave Leeds hope as early as the third minute with a
trademark long range shot that was turned over by Valencia keeper
Canizares. But it was opposite number Martyn who took the honours
with two brilliant first half saves. He denied Arsenal's quarter-final
conqueror John Carew with a brilliant diving save to his left
from an acrobatic overhead kick after a cross from Juan Sanchez.
Martyn was powerless when Gaizka Mendieta put a header on target
after 17 minutes, but he watched with relief as it rebounded to
safety off the crossbar.
Leeds finally created a chance of their own seven minutes before
half time when Harte's free-kick was headed across the face of
goal by Harry Kewell. Rio Ferdinand had the first telling touch,
but Alan Smith somehow diverted the final header wide from only
O'Leary's side had Valencia rocking - and Bowyer was agonisingly
denied by the woodwork after 69 minutes. Smith's chip left Canizares
stranded, and when Viduka failed to make contact inside the six-yard
looked certain to score only to head against the bar with the
goalkeeper out of position.
However, Leeds could not make the breakthrough they craved and
had to settle for a goalless draw. Things looked very ominous
at the end and were to get worse.
In the second half Lee Bowyer was captured on TV cameras treading
on the chest of a grounded Valencia player. It looked innocuous
enough at the time and there were few protests from the Spaniards,
but UEFA took a very hard line approach and banned the key midfielder
from the return leg in Spain, much to O'Leary and Ridsdale's exasperation.
The Highbury match with Arsenal looked to be a bridge too far
for Leeds when they went a couple of goals down early in the second
half, even when a masterly Ian Harte free kick brought them back.
Martin Keown went over the top in a couple of incidents and left
Keane so injured that he missed the rest of the season. Tony Adams
and Keown had been wound up in previous encounters with Alan Smith
and even the absence of the young Yorkshireman didn't quell their
fire. They were taking no prisoners and adopted rough house tactics
to blunt any threat that Leeds might have posed.
The 2-1 victory left the Gunners certain of Champions League
qualification and allowed Liverpool to slip into third. Ipswich's
midweek defeat at Charlton had blunted their charge, but they
remained level on points and goal difference with Leeds, although
the two clubs were now effectively scrapping it out for fourth
spot, as Liverpool were three points clear with only two matches
The fire and determination that had inspired Leeds since Christmas
had been seen only in flashes at Highbury and had disappeared
altogether when they faced Valencia in the crucial Champions League
semi final second leg. Mendieta led Ian Harte a merry dance and
struck repeatedly at a dispirited team. A lucky goal in the first
half, with more than the suspicion of a handball about it, had
given Valencia the lead, but two early goals after the interval
killed off the match as a contest and after that the win was a
back to top
Frustration and despair were etched in the faces of the dispirited
Leeds players as their dreams of glory ebbed away, but Alan Smith
took retribution with virtually the last kick of the game when
he launched into an ill judged two footed assault on a Spaniard
and was instantly and rightly dismissed.
It was a sad and undignified end to what had been a marvellous
European adventure, conjuring up glorious memories of thirty years
before when Leeds had been one of the most feared teams in Europe.
Two European semi finals in successive seasons had been unexpected
and magnificent achievements, but in the final analysis all the
spirit and fire in the world had been insufficient weaponry to
create another upset.
The day before the Valencia match, Ipswich had stolen fourth
spot when they ended Manchester City's fight for Premiership survival
by winning 2-1 at Portman Road. Liverpool's 2-2 draw at home to
Chelsea on the same night as Leeds were getting hammered in Spain
had left them clear in third spot.
On Saturday, May 12, Liverpool fought back from being a goal
down to beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final. Most of the English
programme had been postponed because of the game, but the following
day, Leeds bounced back from the depths of a desperate week to
hammer already relegated Bradford City 6-1.
Viduka, Harte, Bakke, Smith, Kewell and Bowyer scored the goals
that emphasised the gap between the two sides. Leeds were 5-1
up at half time, and seemed to drop a gear in the second half,
but the win was a defiant message that Leeds were still a force
to be reckoned with. They had drawn level on points with Ipswich,
but now had a much superior goal difference to the Suffolk club.
With one match left, at home to Leicester, while Liverpool and
Ipswich had to travel to Charlton and Derby, any one of the three
sides could still qualify for the remaining Champions League spot.
If Leeds could win, only a Liverpool victory could deny United
the third place they had been chasing for weeks.
The pressure of the occasion clearly got to O'Leary's young side
and they struggled to impose themselves on a Leicester team which
was in a dire spell of form. Having led the Premiership table
until the previous October, they had lost all shape and when they
visited Elland Road were on a long run of consecutive defeats.
A mistake by Marshall on the left after 28 minutes allowed Kewell
to pinch possession and his low cross across the face of goal
saw Marshall and Alan Smith in a race for the ball, with the United
striker just getting the final touch from four yards out.
But Leeds were rocked by a Leicester equaliser just four minutes
later. Impey's cross
from the right was met by Lewis, whose header thumped against
the bar and struck Rio Ferdinand who could do nothing as the ball
bounced off his leg and over the line.
But four minutes before the break Leeds were a coat of paint
away from restoring their lead, Viduka's deft touch past Flowers
from a flick down by Smith rolling against the left post and allowing
Leicester to clear to safety. United ended the half on the attack
with Smith's cross deflected behind for a corner, but knowing
they must score again to put pressure on Liverpool who were being
held at Charlton.
When the news came through that Liverpool had taken a second
half lead at Charlton, Elland Road began to take on an air of
anxiety, summed up by Danny Mills shot from the edge of the area
that flew well wide. Kewell headed over the bar from just three
yards out after a great cross from the right by Mills, just as
Liverpool went two up at The Valley. Then Viduka hit the angle
of post and crossbar as Dacourt's brilliant run and cross was
perfect for Leeds' leading scorer.
Akinbiyi's shot tested Martyn in a rare foray forward by Leicester,
but Dacourt ended his season with a brilliant curling 20 effort
that thumped against the bar. The French midfielder was replaced
by Jason Wilcox moments later.
The United dominance finally paid off on 77 minutes. Danny Mills
was fouled 30 yards out but as Leicester's wall failed to retreat
the full distance referee David Elleray advanced the position
ten yards and Ian Harte's trusty left foot did the rest, curling
the ball into the top right corner of the goal.
back to top
Nigel Martyn and his defenders had to block one effort at the
right post, Smith put a volley over at the other end, but then
added a third goal two minutes before the end when he poked the
ball past Flowers after great work by Viduka.
That sparked wild celebrations at Elland Road, despite the disappointment
of not making it back to the Champions League. United's hopes
of grabbing third spot in the Premiership and the final Champions
league spot were dashed by a comprehensive Liverpool win at Charlton.
But United had ended their season on a high and ultimately it
was the shaky first two months of their Premiership campaign that
robbed them of the chance to compete on Europe's highest stage
the following season.
It had been the most exciting season that Leeds fans had known
since the championship win in 1992, and the most memorable European
challenge since the ship of Bremner, Giles, Clarke, Lorimer and
Jordan had run aground against the rocks of Bayern Munich in the
ill fated European Cup final of 1975.
David O'Leary had delivered a remarkable team and a remarkable
season to an adoring set of fans, who could look back fondly on
halcyon nights in Munich, Milan, Rome and Brussels in a way they
had not known for 25 years.
Other Football Highlights from 2000-01
- George Graham was accused of "verbally abusing" Tottenham
executive vice-chairman David Buchler at the meeting which led
to him being sacked as manager of the London giants. Graham
threatened to take legal action over what he called the club's
"bizarre and inexplicable" decision to dismiss him after two-and-a-half
years in charge at White Hart Lane. He also insisted the club's
new owners ENIC always intended to replace him after buying
the club from Sir Alan Sugar and moving in just 10 days before.
Graham was sacked after a 15-minute meeting with Buchler, who
claimed he was provoked into making the decision by the tough
Scot's "aggressive attitude"
- Martin O'Neill led Celtic to a glorious Scottish Championship
win. The 1-0 win at Parkhead against St Mirren on April 7 was
enough to confirm only a second crown in 13 seasons, as a delighted
Celtic Park crowd saluted their heroes - who won 19 of 22 unbeaten
games to wrestle the championship from Rangers. There were still
five games to go, and it is the earliest point in a season that
a Scottish title has been won since 1975, coming even before
the league splits into two after this round of fixtures
- The Football League disciplinary panel recommended that Chesterfield
should be deducted nine points and fined £20,000 following their
three-day inquiry into illegal payments. The inquiry dealt with
90 separate allegations against the club and its former chairman
Darren Brown. Most were found not proven, but the tribunal did
conclude there had been a breach of regulations concerning the
transfer of Luke Beckett and the under reporting of gate receipts.
Inquiry chairman Gordon McKeag called for a transfer tribunal
to be reconvened in order to determine a transfer fee or compensation
payment to Chester City and Barnsley over the Beckett move
- West Ham manager Harry Redknapp left the Premiership club
by mutual consent. The move came after a season which saw the
London club struggle in the league. West Ham only secured their
top-flight status with victory against Southampton in the penultimate
game of the campaign. They beat Manchester United in the FA
Cup but that adventure came to an end with a quarter-final defeat
by Tottenham. Former West Ham player Redknapp, 54, had been
in charge since August 1994 and was the second longest-serving
manager in the top-flight behind Sir Alex Ferguson. He said
"I've had a chat with the chairman and just feel it's been a
tough season. The last eight weeks or so of the season haven't
been particularly enjoyable and I feel that, maybe, it's time
for a change. I would like to thank the chairman and the board
for all the support they've given me since I've been at the
club." Redknapp's assistant Frank Lampard senior also left the
club and Glenn Roeder took over as caretaker manager for West
Ham's final game of the season against Middlesbrough
- Sacked Manchester City manager Joe Royle promised to return
to the game. Royle, dismissed over "fundamental differences"
over the club's future, said he had already started planning
for next season prior to his surprise dismissal. He told the
official City website: "I must admit I came in this morning
with the idea of making plans for next season but I sensed immediately
that it wasn't to be. It all ended amicably. I spoke to the
chairman this morning. It was a three minute meeting, I shook
his hand and left." Royle, who led City from Division Two to
the Premiership in successive seasons, plans to return to management.
Kevin Keegan was installed as new boss just days after Royle's
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