2002–03 in English Football - Diary of The Season

Diary of The Season

  • 27 June 2002 - Leeds United sack manager David O'Leary after four years in charge during which he spent more than £100million on players but never won a major trophy.
  • 3 July 2002 - Middlesbrough pay a club record £8.15million for Empoli and Italy striker Massimo Maccarone.
  • 8 July 2002 - Leeds United appoint Terry Venables as their new manager.
  • 10 July 2002 - AFC Wimbledon, a club founded by former supporters of Wimbledon following The FA's approval of the latter club's move to Milton Keynes, play their first match, losing 4–0 in a preseason friendly to Sutton United in front of over 4,600 fans.
  • 11 July 2002 - Arsenal sign defender Pascal Cygan from Lille for £2.1million.
  • 12 July 2002 - Newcastle United sign 20-year-old defender Titus Bramble from Ipswich Town for £5million.
  • 22 July 2002 - Manchester United break the English transfer record for the third time in just over a year. They pay Leeds United £29 million for central defender Rio Ferdinand.
  • 24 July 2002 - Everton sign Arsenal goalkeeper Richard Wright for £3.5million.
  • 26 July 2002 - Manchester United sell out-of-favour striker Dwight Yorke to Blackburn Rovers for £2million, with Graeme Souness partnering Yorke with his former Manchester United strike partner Andy Cole.
  • 30 July 2002 - Birmingham City, newly promoted to the Premier League, pay a club record £4.25million for Crystal Palace striker Clinton Morrison.
  • 2 August 2002 - Juninho signs for Middlesbrough for the third time in a £6million move from Atlético Madrid.
  • 4 August 2002 - Leicester City move into their new 32,500-seat Walkers Stadium after 111 years at Filbert Street. They drew 1-1 in a friendly with Athletic Bilbao.
  • 5 August 2002 - Middlesbrough sign Aston Villa midfielder George Boateng for £5million.
  • 7 August 2002 - Players' Union chairman Gordon Taylor calls for the Football League, currently in a financial crisis following the collapse of ITV Digital, to combine with the 12 Scottish Premier League clubs to form an expanded Football League. There has recently been talk of Rangers and Celtic resigning from the Scottish Premier League to join Division One of the English league, and for several years it has frequently been suggested by various sources that the two clubs should join the Premier League.
  • 8 August 2002 - Leeds United sign Liverpool midfielder Nick Barmby for £2.75million.
  • 15 August 2002 - Liverpool sell defender Stephen Wright to Sunderland for £3million.
  • 17 August 2002 - The FA Premier League season begins. West Bromwich Albion's first top division game for 17 years ends in a 1-0 away defeat to Manchester United.
  • 21 August 2002 - Sunderland sign Leicester City midfielder Matt Piper for £3.5million.
  • 27 August 2002 - Tottenham go top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win at Charlton Athletic.
  • 29 August 2002 - Lee Hughes rejoins West Bromwich Albion for £2.5million after a year at Coventry City, and is joined for £2.25million by Tranmere Rovers midfielder Jason Koumas.
  • 30 August 2002 Sunderland sign striker Marcus Stewart from Ipswich Town for £3.25million.
  • 31 August 2002 -
    • - Leeds United sell striker Robbie Keane to Tottenham Hotspur for £7 million, as Glenn Hoddle's team look to push for the Premier League title after three wins and a draw from their opening four games take them to the top of the league as August draws to a close. Arsenal (defending champions), Liverpool, Leeds United and Charlton Athletic complete the top five. Bolton Wanderers, who have lost both of their games this month, prop up the top flight, while winless West Ham United and Southampton complete the bottom three. Sunderland pay a club record £6.75million for Rangers striker Tore Andre Flo. West Bromwich Albion beat Fulham 1-0 to record their first top division win since March 1986.
      • - Portsmouth, who were generally not considered as serious promotion challenge, are the surprise leaders of Division One, with their nearest competition coming from last season's beaten playoff finalists Norwich City. Leicester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Rotherham United and Nottingham Forest complete the top six.
  • 10 September 2002 -
    • - Sunderland sign goalkeeper Mart Poom from Derby County for £2.5million.
      • A Kevin Nolan goal gives Bolton Wanderers a surprise 1-0 league win over Manchester United at Old Trafford.
  • 14 September 2002 - Manchester United's dismal start to the season continues as they lose 1-0 at Leeds United. They are now ninth in the league, one place below a newly promoted West Bromwich Albion side who have recorded three league wins in a row.
  • 16 September 2002 - Birmingham City beat Aston Villa 3-0 at St Andrew's in the first Second City derby in the league for 15 years, and the first in the top flight for 17 years.
  • 17 September 2002 - After a slow start to the season, the pressure is growing on Sunderland manager Peter Reid. The Daily Mirror tips George Graham to be named as Sunderland manager if Reid is ousted.
  • 21 September 2002 - Ruud van Nistelrooy scores the winning goal from the penalty spot as Manchester United get back on track with a 1-0 home league win over Tottenham.
  • 23 September 2002 - Peter Reid gains unexpected support from Sir Bobby Robson, manager of Sunderland's local rivals Newcastle United, who defends him over the club's recent shortcomings.
  • 26 September 2002 - A poll among Sunderland supporters names David O'Leary as the man they would most like to see as manager in place of under-fire Peter Reid.
  • 30 September 2002 - September finishes with defending champions Arsenal top of the Premier League, two points ahead of second-placed Liverpool. Manchester United, held back by two home defeats this month, are fourth in the league and level on points with third-placed Middlesbrough who are mounting a surprise title challenge. Chelsea occupy fifth place, with last month's leaders Tottenham Hotspur now down to sixth. West Ham United, Charlton Athletic and Southampton occupy the bottom three places. Portsmouth and Leicester City lead the way in Division One, with the playoff zone being occupied by Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Rotherham United and Sheffield United.
  • 7 October 2002 - Peter Reid is sacked by FA Premier League strugglers Sunderland after seven-and-a-half years in charge.
  • 9 October 2002 - Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy is named as a contender for the Sunderland manager's job.
  • 10 October 2002 - After just four months as manager of Stoke City, manager Steve Cotterill leaves the club with a statement revealing that he has agreed to take a role at another club, sparking speculation that he has been appointed as Sunderland's new manager. Hours later, however, it was revealed that Howard Wilkinson has ended his five-year role as technical director of the Football Association to become Sunderland's new manager, with Cotterill as his assistant.
  • 12 October 2002 - England open their Euro 2004 qualifying series with a 2-1 win over Slovakia in Bratislava. David Beckham and Michael Owen score for England.
  • 19 October 2002 - Everton striker Wayne Rooney becomes the youngest-ever goalscorer in FA Premier League history when he scores a last-minute winner against Arsenal, five days before his 17th birthday, to end the opposition's 30-match unbeaten Premiership run. West Ham United winger Trevor Sinclair takes the pressure off his manager Glenn Roeder by scoring the only goal in an away league win over Sunderland, who are playing their first game under the management of Howard Wilkinson.
  • 27 October 2002 - James Beattie scores a hat-trick as Southampton beat Fulham 4-2 in the league at St Mary's Stadium.
  • 30 October 2002 - Adam Crozier announced his resignation as chief executive of the Football Association after two years in this role.
  • 31 October 2002 - October draws to a close with Liverpool having leapfrogged Arsenal into second place, opening up a four-point gap and looking in a stronger position than ever before to end their league title wait that began in 1990. Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur complete the top five. Bolton Wanderers, Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion occupy the three relegation places. Portsmouth now have a seven-point lead over nearest rivals Leicester City at the top of Division One. The playoff zone is occupied by Norwich City, Sheffield United, Watford and Nottingham Forest.
  • 9 November 2002 - Manchester City beat Manchester United 3-1 in the last-ever Manchester derby at Maine Road. It is the first time since September 1989 that City have beaten United in a competitive game, and the first time since March 1993 that United have failed to beat City on their own soil.
  • 18 December 2002 - Football mourns the deaths of Football Association chairman Sir Bert Millichip, 88, and former Leicester City and Shrewsbury Town striker Arthur Rowley, 76, who scored a record 434 league goals during his 19-year career.
  • 10 November 2002 - Sunderland achieve their first league win under Howard Wilkinson by beating Tottenham 2-0 at the Stadium of Light.
  • 23 November 2002 - Ruud van Nistelrooy scores a hat-trick as Manchester United end a dismal run of league form by beating Newcastle United 5-3 at Old Trafford.
  • 30 November 2002 - As November draws to a close, Liverpool are on a dismal run of form which has seen Arsenal overtake them into first place in the Premier League by a single point. Everton are putting up a surprise title challenge after more than a decade of mediocrity as they occupy third place and are just three points off the top. Chelsea and Manchester United complete the top five. West Ham United, West Bromwich Albion and Bolton Wanderers finish the month in the relegation zone. Portsmouth and Leicester City continue to lead the way in Division One. Nottingham Forest, Norwich City, Reading (newly promoted) and Sheffield United complete the top six.
  • 7 December 2002 - Manchester United's revival continues with a 2-0 home league win over defending champions Arsenal.
  • 14 December 2002 - Manchester United continue to close in on the top of the table with a 3-0 home win over West Ham. Sunderland boost their survival challenge with a 2-1 home win over Liverpool, whose title challenge is continuing to fall away. Marc-Vivien Foé scores twice for Manchester City in a 2-2 draw at Charlton Athletic.
  • 26 December 2002 - Hull City celebrate their first competitive game at their new Kingston Communications Stadium with a 2-0 win over Hartlepool United in Division Three.
  • 4 January 2003 - Shrewsbury Town beat Everton 2-1 in an FA Cup third round tie at Gay Meadow.
  • 31 December 2002 - 2002 ends with Arsenal top of the Premier League, four points ahead of second-placed Chelsea and with a game in hand. Manchester United occupy third place, Everton are fourth and Liverpool's ongoing decline has seen them slip to fifth place just two months after they had a comfortable lead at the top. Southampton's recent resurgence is putting pressure on the top five as they occupy seventh place and look on course for their highest finish since 1995. West Ham United remain bottom and are still looking for their first home win of the season, while West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland complete the bottom three. Portsmouth and Leicester City's two-horse race at the top of Division One continues, with the playoff zone unchanged from last month.
  • 12 January 2003 - Robbie Keane scores a hat-trick as Tottenham beat Everton 4-3 in the league at White Hart Lane.
  • 19 January 2003 - Thierry Henry scores a hat-trick as Arsenal beat West Ham United 3-1 at Highbury.
  • 30 January 2003 - Cash-strapped Leeds United sell Robbie Fowler to Manchester City for £6million.
  • 31 January 2003 - January draws to a close with Arsenal still top of the Premier League, two points above second placed Manchester United and within a game in hand. Newcastle United, Chelsea and Everton complete the top five. Liverpool's decline continues as they occupy eighth place, deepening fears that a side looking all set for title glory three months ago might now not even qualify for the UEFA Cup. Meanwhile, West Bromwich Albion's dismal form continues as they and West Ham United prop up the rest of the top flight on goal difference. Sunderland occupy the last relegation place. Middlesbrough boost their bid for a UEFA Cup place by spending a total of £8.5million on new signings Chris Riggott, Malcolm Christie and Michael Ricketts. Leeds United sell Jonathan Woodgate to Newcastle United for £9million. Portsmouth and Leicester City remain in pole position at the top of Division One, and apart from Coventry City edging Reading out of the playoff zone the top six of the division is unchanged from last month.
  • 9 February 2003 - Manchester United drop two priceless points in the Premier League title race as they can only manage a 1-1 draw with City in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford. It is the first time since the 1991-92 season that they have failed to beat City in either derby games.
  • 12 February 2003 - A record of eight black players are capped in the England side's 3-1 home defeated by Australia at Upton Park.
  • 16 February 2003 - One of the most decisive games of the season sees Arsenal cancel out Manchester United in the double race with a 2-0 win at Old Trafford. After the game, David Beckham suffers a gash to his face which is reportedly the result of Sir Alex Ferguson throwing a basket full of boots across the changing room after his side's defeat.
  • 22 February 2003 - Manchester United drop points once again when relegation threatened Bolton hold them to a 1-1 draw at the Reebok Stadium.
  • 28 February 2003 - The month-end leaders for February are Arsenal, who now lead Manchester United by five points. Newcastle United, Chelsea and Everton complete the top five. There will now be a place in the UEFA Cup for the Premier League's sixth place team if Manchester United or Liverpool (who contest this weekend's League Cup final) finish in the top five. Currently in sixth place are Charlton Athletic, while Liverpool are still only seventh in a division which they had looked set to win a few months ago. Portsmouth have a two-point lead over Leicester City at the top of Division One. Reading, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United remain in the playoff zone, but an improving Wolverhampton Wanderers side have edged Norwich City out of the top six. Rotherham United are in contention for promotion after an impressive season so far.
  • 2 March 2003 - Liverpool win the League Cup for the seventh time in their history thanks to a 2-0 win over Manchester United in the final at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. On the same day, Arsenal establish an eight-point lead at the top of the league and look all set for a second successive league title.
  • 5 March 2003 - Manchester United cut Arsenal's Premier League lead to five points with a 2-1 home win over struggling Leeds United.
  • 10 March 2003 - Howard Wilkinson is sacked as Sunderland manager (along with his assistant Steve Cotterill) after his team won just two out of 20 Premiership matches under his management. The hunt for his successor begins, with Mick McCarthy, David O'Leary and George Burley the three names being particularly strongly linked with the vacancy.
  • 12 March 2003 - Sunderland appoint former Republic of Ireland national coach Mick McCarthy as their new manager.
  • 15 March 2003 - Arsenal are now just two points ahead of Manchester United at the top of the league, after they lose 2-0 at Blackburn and their rivals win 1-0 at Aston Villa.
  • 21 March 2003 - Leeds United, 16th in the FA Premier League and £80million in debt, sack Terry Venables after eight months in charge. Peter Reid is named as his successor on a temporary contract until the end of the season, but it is far from clear whether Reid will get the job on a permanent basis.
  • 22 March 2003 -
    • - Derby County (in Division One) suspend manager John Gregory over allegations of misconduct and replace him with George Burley as interim manager.
      • - Manchester United beat Fulham 3-0 at Old Trafford, with Ruud van Nistelrooy scoring all three goals, to go top of the Premier League just three weeks after their title hopes had appeared dead.
  • 23 March 2003 - Arsenal return to the top of the Premier League with a narrow 2-1 win over Everton.
  • 31 March 2003 - March draws to a close with Manchester United now leading the Premier League just a month after Arsenal looked to have won it, though Arsène Wenger's team are only a point behind with a game in hand. Three points now separate Portsmouth and Leicester City at the top of Division One. Sheffield United, Reading, Nottingham Forest and Wolverhampton Wanderers remain in the playoff zone. Ipswich Town's resurgence has seen them creep to the fringe of the top six, but Rotherham United's playoff hopes are evaporating.
  • 5 April 2003 - Manchester United seize the intiative in the title challenge by beating Liverpool 4-0 at Old Trafford as Arsenal can only manage a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa. Leeds United move closer to survival with a 6-1 away win over a Charlton side which effectively ends their opposition's hopes of European qualification.
  • 12 April 2003 - Paul Scholes scores a hat-trick as Manchester United beat Newcastle United 6-2 on Tyneside to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League. Newcastle's neighbours Sunderland's relegation is confirmed by a 2-0 defeat at Birmingham City.
  • 16 April 2003 - The much-anticipated "title decider" between Arsenal and Manchester United at Highbury ends in a 2-2 draw, meaning that Arsenal are now three points behind Manchester United but with a game in hand and a slightly superior goal difference.
  • 19 April 2003 - Paul Scholes is on the scoresheet twice as a 3-1 home win over Blackburn Rovers takes Manchester United closer to their eighth Premier League title in 11 seasons, despite Arsenal's 2-0 win at Middlesbrough. West Bromwich Albion are relegated despite a 2-1 away win over already doomed Sunderland. Leicester City seal promotion to the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Brighton.
  • 21 April 2003 - West Ham manager Glenn Roeder is hospitalised with a suspected stroke; director of football Trevor Brooking is placed in charge of the first team until Roeder is well enough to resume control.
  • 27 April 2003 - Portsmouth beat Rotherham 3-2 to win the Division One championship and gain promotion to the Premier League for the first time since the league's inception. Apart from the 1987-88 season, they have not played top division football since the 1950s. On the same day, Alan Shearer receives the Premier League "Player of the Decade" award at a PFA ceremony.
  • 29 April 2003 - Glenn Roeder's illness is diagnosed as a brain tumour which will be operated upon shortly.
  • 30 April 2003 - Sunderland, without a point since January and win since December, end the month, and West Bromwich Albion, with only six wins in their first top division campaign for nearly 20 years, end April with their relegation battle lost. West Ham United complete the bottom three but their survival bid is still very much alive as they are posing a threat to Bolton Wanderers, Birmingham City, Fulham, Aston Villa and a Leeds United team who began the season among the teams expected to challenge for the title but are now battling relegation as well as huge debts.
  • 3 May 2003 - A Ruud van Nistelrooy hat-trick contributes to Manchester United's 4-1 home win over Charlton Athletic and puts them on the brink of title glory.
  • 4 May 2003 - Arsenal lose 3-2 at home to Leeds United, a result which ensures Leeds United's safety and ends Arsenal's defence of the title. Manchester United are crowned league champions for the eighth time in 11 seasons. Sunderland are relegated from the Premiership with a record low of 4 wins, 19 points and 21 goals. Shrewsbury Town are relegated to the Conference, ending 53 years of Football League membership. Exeter City finished 23rd in Division Three and are also relegatead to the Conference - the first club to suffer automatic relegation without finishing bottom of the league. Peter Schmeichel calls time on his footballing career six months before his 40th birthday after helping Manchester City to finish ninth in the Premiership. *9 May 2003 - Derby County confirm that suspended manager John Gregory will not be returning, and his contract is terminated to make way for George Burley to receive the job on a permanent basis.
  • 11 May 2003 - West Ham United are relegated after 10 years in the Premier League after failing to get the better of a Birmingham side who hold them to a 2-2 draw. Bolton are safe after a 2-1 home win over Middlesbrough. Sunderland's 4-0 home defeat to Arsenal sees them end the season as officially the worst Premier League team ever with a record low of four wins, 19 points and 21 goals. Not since Stoke City in the old First Division 18 years ago has any top flight club attained such a poor record in the top flight. Ninth placed Manchester City bid farewell to Maine Road after 80 years, their last game before relocation to the City of Manchester Stadium being watched by a 35,000 capacity crowd as they lost 1-0 to eighth placed Southampton. The final goal at the stadium is scored by Saints midfielder Anders Svensson.
  • 17 May 2003 - Arsenal win the FA Cup for the ninth time in their history by beating Southampton 1-0 at the Millennium Stadium.
  • 22 May 2003 - Everton sign Joseph Yobo from Olympique Marseille for £3.5million.
  • 26 May 2003 - Wolverhampton Wanderers return to the top flight after a 19-year exile by beating Sheffield United 3-0 in the Division One playoff final.
  • 4 June 2003 - After 13 years as goalkeeper for Arsenal, David Seaman joins Manchester City on a free transfer, signing a one-year contract.
  • 17 June 2003 - David Beckham agrees to join Real Madrid in a £25 million deal after 12 years at Manchester United.
  • 26 June 2003 - Marc-Vivien Foé, who spent the 2002-03 season on loan to Manchester City, collapses and dies at the age of 28 during a Confederations Cup tie for Cameroon.

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