• The 5 greatest sides not to win the Premier League

    Tottenham have gone on a nine-game winning streak, but still look set to finish second behind Chelsea this season. Greg Lea picks out the other terrific runners-up who came so close to ultimate triumph

    1. Newcastle 1995/96

    A team featuring Les Ferdinand, Peter Beardsley and David Ginola played some exhilarating, attacking football

    Everyone’s seen the interview.

    “When you do that with footballers like he [Alex Ferguson] said about Leeds… I’ve kept really quiet but I’ll tell you something, he went down in my estimation when he said that,” a wide-eyed, finger-jabbing Kevin Keegan told Sky Sports after his Newcastle team’s 1-0 victory at Elland Road in the run-in.

    “We have not resorted to that. But I’ll tell you, you can tell him 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 I’ll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them. Love it.”

    Beat them they did not, but Newcastle were a fine side in 1995/96. A team featuring Les Ferdinand, Peter Beardsley and David Ginola played some exhilarating, attacking football, as the Magpies flew out of the traps and won nine of their first 10 matches. By January, they had opened up a 12-point lead at the top and looked almost certain to win their first league championship since 1927.

    Manchester United had other ideas, though, and were pretty much unstoppable after beating West Ham 1-0 in January. The Red Devils’ final 15 games brought 13 wins and a draw, while Keegan’s men lost five and drew three in the same period. A lack of title-winning experience ultimately cost them, but few Premier League sides have been as thrilling to watch in full flow.

    Les Ferdinand, Keith Gillespie, David Ginola

    Newcastle entertained in 1995/96, but ultimately won nothing

    2. Liverpool 2013/14

    A 3-2 triumph over closest challengers City put the Merseysiders in pole position to claim their first league title since 1990

    There was little in Liverpool’s opening 13 matches to suggest they would go on to be favourites to win the league with just a few weeks of the season remaining. Three consecutive 1-0 wins against Stoke, Aston Villa and Manchester United certainly represented a positive start but by the start of December, the Reds were seven points off the pace having lost to Southampton, Arsenal and Hull.

    But then everything seemed to click, and Norwich (5-1), West Ham (4-1), Tottenham (5-0) and Cardiff (3-1) were all blown away by Brendan Rodgers’ side. They were suspect defensively (they conceded a total of 50 goals) but – with an intoxicating front three of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling – scintillating going forward, as they scored 101. Their progress was checked by back-to-back losses to Manchester City and Chelsea, but Liverpool roared back and were looking down at the rest of the division from the summit of the standings by the end of March.

    A 3-2 triumph over closest challengers City put the Merseysiders in pole position to claim their first league title since 1990, but a 2-0 defeat by Chelsea and 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace – in which a three-goal lead was inexplicably squandered against opponents with nothing left to play for – allowed Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City to snatch the prize on the final day.

     

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