Newcastle United

Newcastle United Football Club was promoted to the Premier League at the end of the 1992/93 season, having won Football League Division 1. The Magpies have never won what is now the top tier of English football, but finished runner-up in 1995/96 and 1996/97, behind Manchester United on both occasions.

The closest Newcastle United has come to winning the Premier League was in 1995/96, when it surrendered a 12-point lead with 15 matches of the season remaining. Following a 2-1 win over Bolton Wanderers at St. James’ Park on January 20, 1996, Newcastle faltered, losing five of their next ten matches, including a 1-0 home defeat by Manchester United, which left the team playing ‘catch up’ against their resurgent rivals.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, the commander-in-chief of psychological warfare, fanned the flames by questioning the commitment of teams such as Leeds United and Nottingham Forest against Newcastle United. Incensed, Magpies’ manager Kevin Keegan created an infamous moment in Premier League history when, following a 1-0 victory over Leeds United in April, 1996, he vented his spleen live on Sky Sports TV. He said, ‘…you can tell him [Ferguson] now if you’re watching it, we’re still fighting for this title, and he’s got to go to Middlesbrough and get something, and, and, I’ll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them, love it!’

In truth, Keegan need not have bothered. Newcastle United dropped points in both their remaining matches, against Nottingham Forest and Tottenham Hotspur, while Manchester United beat Middlesbrough 3-0, courtesy of goals from David May, Andrew Cole and Ryan Giggs, to win the Premier League by four points. Newcastle United, nevertheless, achieved its highest finishing position since winning Football League Division 1 in 1926/27.

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