The 2010-11 English Premier League title was won by Manchester United in a season where many of the challengers failed to take advantage of a United side distracted by Champions League exertions. Chelsea and Manchester City proved to be United’s closest challengers but ultimately Sir Alex Ferguson’s side showed their resolve to maintain distance and record a relatively comfortable victory, finishing on 80 points, nine points ahead of the chasing pack. The title was their 19th which took them beyond Liverpool's tally of 18.
The 2010 summer represented a seismic change, with Manchester City, despite having spent large sums of money prior, becoming a major player making major transfers. The much-coveted David Silva was acquired from Valencia for £24m, while Champions League winner Yaya Toure joined for £28m; both these men would be stalwarts of City’s successes for years to come. Jerome Boateng, Aleksandar Kolarov, James Milner and Mario Balotelli also arrived as the team was completely overhauled.
In comparison the spending from the rest of their rivals was relatively low-key. Arsenal brought in Laurent Koscielny for £8.5m from Lorient, while Manchester United strengthened with Chris Smalling and Chicharito Hernandez. Two of the more eye-catching deals came late in the day, with Sunderland acquiring Asamoah Gyan for a club-record £13m, while Tottenham lured playmaker Rafael van der Vaart for a cut-price £8m.
But this was a rare season where the winter transfer business will live much longer in the memory than the previous summer. Chelsea destroyed their record transfer fee, spending £50m on Fernando Torres from Liverpool, prompting the Reds into action.
They immediately responded, bringing in Andy Carroll from Newcastle United for a huge £35m, and at the same time completed a deal for Luis Suarez from Ajax for £23m. Indeed, the latter would prove to be the only truly successful deal of the three, despite being markedly the cheapest.
Liverpool were also involved in the most intriguing managerial developments of the season. Rafa Benitez’s six-year spell at Anfield came to an end, replaced by Roy Hodgson, but Hodgson’s time on Merseyside was to be short-lived; he would last six months before being replaced by Kenny Dalglish mid-season.
Though Manchester United would not lose a game until the 26th round, their season would be typified by a series of draws that allowed their competitors to remain in contention.
United took just a point from seven of their first 13 games of the campaign, and by mid-November the top of the table was extremely congested, with just three points separating Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City.
But United, as is their speciality, went on an enviable mid-season run, collecting 29 points from a possible 33, including five goals in a single match from Dimitar Berbatov in a 7-1 demolition of Blackburn Rovers. By the beginning of February, United had built up a healthy five-point advantage, and despite a difficult run which saw defeats to Wolves, Chelsea and Liverpool, that spell included a pivotal 2-1 victory over Manchester City in which Wayne Rooney scored one of the greatest-ever Premier League goals.
After that run United remained top with Arsenal hot on their heels, but the Gunners totally fell apart in the final three months of the season. After allowing a 4-0 lead to slip at Newcastle in February, Arsene Wenger’s side won just four of their final 13 games to drop from title contention to barely squeezing into the top four.
Chelsea’s final league position of second highlighted a recovery from a dismal mid-season spell, one that cost manager Carlo Ancelotti his job, but they were never in the race, nor City, who were ten points off the pace as far as eight games from the end.
It's not so much passing Liverpool. It's more important that United are the best team in the country in terms of winning titles.Sir Alex Ferguson
But United, in the absence of a genuine threat, picked up wins where others didn’t. A Rooney hat-trick from 2-0 down at West Ham proved to be the clincher, for their 12th Premier League title in 19 years.
The bottom of the table saw one of the most compelling relegation battles in years. West Ham were first to yield, finishing bottom, though with a high points total of 33. Above them, Wigan, Blackpool, Birmingham City, Wolves and Blackburn Rovers were separated with a single point, and three goals, with two positions in the trapdoor to be filled. Wigan travelled to Stoke, Wolves and Blackburn faced one another, while Birmingham City and Blackpool appeared in most threat, facing away trips to Tottenham and Manchester United respectively.
The relegation positions changed hands multiple times as teams looked as though they had saved themselves. Blackpool, via a Charlie Adam free-kick, went 2-1 up at Old Trafford, while Birmingham drew level at Spurs and other results were going their way.
Blackburn were the best performers of the day, going 3-0 up in the first half at Wolves to all but clinch their status, but it was Hugo Rodallega’s late goal for Wigan which decided things. His strike condemned Birmingham, while United rallied to defeat Blackpool 4-2 and send the seasiders back down after a single season.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON
Hard-working midfielder Parker was given the award in a season without a true standout performer, despite West Ham’s relegation.
MANAGER OF THE SEASON
SIR ALEX FERGUSON
The Scot wrestled the title back from Chelsea to maintain Manchester United’s dominance over the division.
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON
The 17-year-old was seen as English football’s great new hope after an enviable breakthrough season at Arsenal.
DIMITAR BERBATOV, CARLOS TEVEZ - 20 GOALS
Berbatov eventually became a United regular and responded with goals, while Tevez’s efforts edged City closer to competing at the top.
TEAM OF THE SEASON
GOAL OF THE SEASON
WAYNE ROONEY has always been a scorer of spectacular goals, but this body-bending overhead kick in a crucial clash with Manchester City was the season’s best.
MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER
Liverpool to Chelsea
KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON
United were 2-0 down to West Ham in a key stage of the run-in, only for Wayne Rooney to enter the stage, scoring a quick-fire second-half hat-trick to turn the game around.