Sunday 18 February 2018

Aidan O'Hara: Mourinho was right, Chelsea are champions*

* In the 'real' Premier League which United have never won, but Portsmouth have

Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
Aidan O'Hara

Aidan O'Hara

AFTER victory at Anfield, Jose Mourinho said that, even though Chelsea still couldn't win the league, "now we can say we won both matches against the champions" having completed the double over both Liverpool and Manchester City.

If it were boxing, where the person who beat the champion became the champion, his assertion might have been correct so – having taken similar logic earlier in the season to show that Hyde could be better than Bayern Munich – we decided to find out who are the 'real' Premier League champions.

English football, obviously, has a rich heritage which goes back beyond 1992, Sky and the launch of the Premier League but, for the sake of space and sanity, this competition starts on the opening day of the 1993-94 season, with Manchester United as title holders having won the inaugural league.

United began their reign with victory against Norwich before giving it up in their seventh defence with a 1-0 defeat against Chelsea in September 1993. Chelsea then lost to West Ham, who were beaten by Liverpool, who in turn lost to Newcastle.

The season saw a run of four consecutive games in which the title switched hands before Arsenal took control with a 1-0 win against Blackburn. They defended their crown for 10 games but, in a pattern which would repeat itself, lost their third last game of the season to West Ham, who then drew with QPR and Southampton to end the season as champions.

West Ham only defended the title once in the next season but, by the end of October, Manchester United had gained command and, across two reigns, they made 10 defences, before finally losing to Everton.


In March, Nottingham Forest beat Everton and began a remarkable 10-game unbeaten run which saw them end the season as 'champions'. That run extended into 12 games of the following season, making their 22-game reign the longest in the history of the competition, stretching from March 8 to November 18 when it was ended by a spectacular 7-0 defeat to Blackburn.

United again held the title for a seven-game period in 1996 before losing to Southampton in April. By beating Southampton, Newcastle and Kevin Keegan at least had the consolation of becoming 'real' champions after staying unbeaten for the final three games.

Unlike Forest, however, they immediately gave up the crown in the next season with a 2-0 defeat to Everton and set in motion a pattern in which the title changed hands 17 times in the 1996-97 season – including twice in three days over Christmas – before, on the final day, Aston Villa beat Blackburn 1-0.

The following season was one of Arsene Wenger's finest and the 4-0 win over Everton which included Tony Adams' famous left-footed half-volley was their sixth defence of the 'real' title. However, in their second last game, they lost 4-0 to Liverpool, who then lost 1-0 to Derby as the title changed hands on the final day for the second consecutive season.

Manchester United won the treble in 1999 but at no stage held the 'real' title and, again, Arsenal were the strongest contenders with 13 defences before defeat to Leeds in the second last game saw the title slip away. Leeds then drew with Coventry on the final day.

Manchester United did hold the title twice in the following season, despite the presence of Massimo Taibi, who was dropped after their first title match defeat, a 5-0 loss to Chelsea.

They immediately lost to Liverpool but regained the title later in the season before losing to Sheffield Wednesday.

The Owls were relegated that season but had the consolation of the 'real' Premier League title with a final-day win over Leicester.

That meant that the 'real' Premier League champions were playing in Division One, which seemed to spark competitiveness as Huddersfield, Crystal Palace, Forest and Blackburn all gained the title and lost it in the next game.

Huddersfield and Wimbledon had eight defences each but it was Sheffield United who finished as champions and, without promotion, the title stayed in the old Division 1.

The following season, 2001-02, Birmingham beat Grimsby 6-2 in March and held the title to the end of the season including a final-day defeat of Sheffield United, who missed the chance to be the only team to retain the title.

Birmingham's play-off victory against Norwich meant promotion and, mercifully, a return of the 'real' Premier League champions to the Premier League.

Arsenal beat Birmingham on the opening day of the season but lost the title to Wayne Rooney's wondergoal in Everton's 2-1 win. The Gunners would regain the title late in the season but defeat to Leeds, again, in the penultimate game allowed Leeds to take the title.

The Gunners enjoyed an unbeaten season in 2003-04 but, in both games in which they were challengers for the 'real' title, they could only draw against Bolton and Newcastle and, eventually, Portsmouth were champions.

Middlesbrough, Blackburn and a Carlos Tevez-inspired West Ham ended the next three seasons as champions before 2007-08 saw the highest calibre of champion with just five teams holding the title throughout the season.

Again, Arsenal were outstanding with two reigns totalling 21 defences but Didier Drogba scored twice against them in March in a 2-1 victory and Chelsea remained unbeaten for the final seven games to take the title. Chelsea had eight defences before a 1-0 defeat to Liverpool, and Rafael Benitez's team would regain the title later in the season with a 4-1 win at Old Trafford.

Their nine-game unbeaten run, much like Newcastle in 1996, at least allowed them to finish the season as 'real' champions.

Chelsea, however, ended the following season as champions, culminating in an 8-0 win against Wigan for the largest margin of victory in any 'real' title-deciding game.

In 2010-11, Arsenal had the highest number of defences (10 games) but a messy end to the season saw Tottenham beat Liverpool 2-0 in the penultimate game, and a final-day win over Birmingham gave them the title.

Spurs immediately lost to Manchester United in 2011-12 who, in turn, lost it spectacularly in a 6-1 defeat against Manchester City. United would regain the title later in the season before the infamous defeat to Wigan which allowed Everton to swoop with a three-game run to win the title.

Last season, Manchester United were dominant in the 'real' Premier League champions race when, after beating Manchester City 3-2, they put together a single-season record run of 14 defences that was ended by a 2-1 loss to City – the only time when a team regained the title in a rematch during the same season. City immediately lost to Tottenham, who were unbeaten for the final five games to end as champions for the second time in three seasons.

This season, Arsenal were impressive with 10 defences before that 5-1 defeat to Liverpool cost them their title chances. From there, Liverpool won 10 consecutive games before losing to Chelsea, after which Mourinho made the insinuation that Chelsea could call themselves champions.

By subsequently drawing against Norwich and, yesterday, beating Cardiff it meant that, in the 'real' Premier League champions terms at least, Mourinho was right.

End of season 'unofficial' Premier League champions: 1993-94: West Ham; 1994-95: Nottingham Forest; 1995-96: Newcastle; 1996-97: Aston Villa; 1997-98: Derby Co; 1998-99: Leeds United; 1999-00: Sheffield Wednesday; 2000-01: Sheffield Utd*; 2001-02: Birmingham City*; 2002-03: Leeds Utd; 2003-04: Portsmouth; 2004-05: Middlesbrough; 2005-06: Blackburn Rvs; 2006-07: West Ham; 2007-08: Chelsea; 2008-09: Liverpool

2009-10: Chelsea; 2010-11: Tottenham; 2011-12: Everton; 2012-13: Tottenham; 2013-14: Chelsea

* while playing in Championship


10-team, final-day accumulator, 1,501/1 THE top six teams were all playing inferior opposition, so backing them to win was reasonably obvious.

Manchester United and Southampton was seventh v eighth, so a draw was likely, while Fulham's home advantage would have been something of an equaliser in the draw with Crystal Palace.

Sunderland had plenty to celebrate this week, making defeat to Swansea likely, while Stoke were deserved favourites against a West Brom team who have been dreadful in recent weeks.

Tweets of the week




What a game , what a league , i love crystal palace so much now our turn to do the job

The Man City midfielder revels in Liverpool's 3-3 draw


Robin van Persie


Good game and result yesterday. Special day for the captain Nemanja & manager/player/legend Giggsy

Man United striker hedges his bets for next season.


Emma Byrne


Poor poor performance! We need to go back to basics a few harsh words from Roy Keane about goals we conceded-but Jayzus he's a fine thing

Ireland's women's team lost to Russia but, for their goalkeeper, there was at least a silver lining.


Jozy Altidore


Ok I'm done now. Love all my fans even the ones that hate me. Enjoy the night SAFC fans and be safe.

The Sunderland striker's Q&A session wasn't as positive as he'd hoped, but he's still in a good mood.


James McClean


Wasnt spectacular by any stretch of the imagination, but still all to play for on monday

The Wigan winger with a tweet as exciting as his team's 0-0 draw with QPR.


Rio Ferdinand


Heading to Singapore next week! Will pick fan questions to answer at the press con. Tweet your questions at #SGGameOn!

Hard to believe that, in any other season, Ferdinand would be tweeting this the day before the season ends.


James McClean

Collins sacked by @derrycityfc was inevitable, poor signings, negative tactics/team selection e.g his son dear me, ego was bigger than club

Not exactly a fond farewell to Roddy Collins from ex-Derry player – even if it was officially mutual consent

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