Sir Alex Ferguson won his 13th Premier League trophy in 27 years. His recent retirement is a day that some thought would never come, despite the Scot’s advancing years. By ending his phenomenal Old Trafford legacy, Ferguson ensured that next season’s Premier League will be considered wide open by supporters of all the major clubs before a ball is kicked, and it will be intriguing to see how United play under their new manager David Moyes.
If next season’s campaign promises to be more open, then this would be in marked contrast to the one just gone. Manchester United cantered to the league crown as every one of their realistic challengers effectively shot themselves in the foot long before the ribbons were being attached to the Premier League trophy.
Manchester City made a meek defence of the Premier League title that they won so dramatically in the death throes of the 2011-12 season. It was perhaps symptomatic of their season that the forward who had won the title for them with one the season’s final kicks, Sergio Aguero, got injured within minutes of the season beginning. City never really recovered, and rarely threatened to launch a series threaten to their rivals and neighbours’ hegemony this term. After losing to Wigan in the FA Cup final, the manager who had won them the title, Roberto Mancini, received his P45 instead.
Another club that will have a new manager at the helm after next season, after a stormy campaign, is Chelsea. Having booted out Roberto di Matteo early in this season’s campaign, Roman Abramovich then made one the most ill-judged appointments in football history, when he allowed the loathed Rafael Benitez to take over on an ‘interim’ basis. Benitez was absolutely loathed by the Chelsea faithful, and openly booed, but eventually he earned the grudging respect of many, and ultimately won the club a major European trophy in the shape of the Europa League, while regaining Chelsea their top four place. Although it hasn’t been confirmed, it is suspected that Chelsea will make a serious challenge for the Premier League trophy next season, under the incoming Jose Mourinho.
Thus, the top three will all have a new man in the hot seat come next season, making the race for the Premier League title to be an unpredictable business. Some even believe that the perennially fourth placed Arsenal will mount a serious challenge to win the Premier League trophy, under the wise tutelage of Arsene Wenger.
The Premier League trophy itself was designed and built to coincide with the launching of this new league back in 1992. The trophy was required due to the breakaway of the then 22 top flight clubs from the Football League, to create the league which exists to this day, which has become intrinsically associated with Sky television and its attendant billions.
The trophy incorporates a crown design atop a solid silver trophy. There is a distinct similarity between the Premier League trophy and the trophy which is awarded to Champions League winners in terms of shape and size. The Premier League trophy is three feet 5.5 inches (104.5cm) high, 22.5 inches (57.2cm) wide, and 16 inches (40.6cm) deep. The trophy and crown weigh 22lbs (10 kilograms) and the base weighs 33lbs (15 kilograms). The total weight when it is in its case is 123.5 lbs (56 kilograms).
Unlike the Champions League, the Premier League seemingly have no intention of allowing a club to keep the Premier League trophy. By now, Manchester United, who have won the Premier League 13 times since winning the first Premier League title back in 1992-93, would surely have been awarded at least one trophy to hang on to for keeps. However, there is no current policy enabling clubs to keep the trophy after winning it a certain number of times. There is, however, a replica of the Premier League trophy, that the Football Association keeps handy should there be a particularly exciting an unpredictable title race.
The replica trophy has come into play on a few occasions. For example, last season, either City or United could have won the title up to the final seconds of the season. In 1999, Manchester United beat Tottenham on the final day of the season to win the title, while in 1995, United’s failure to beat West Ham United handed the Premier League trophy to Blackburn Rovers. On each of these occasions, it was necessary to employ the replica trophy in order to be able to guarantee presenting a trophy to the winner on the day that they won it. The Football Association have yet to confirm how three teams fighting for the title would be dealt with, as once occurred between Liverpool, Everton and West Ham back in the 80s.
But there was no doubt that the Premier League trophy will reside in the Manchester United trophy cabinet for the next twelve months, and deservedly so. All football fans await the new season impatiently.