History of the Premier League

By Dylan Shackelford
May. 07, 2020

In 1992, the top flight of English soccer branched off from the traditional English football leagues and became the Premier League. According to FootballHistory.org, The change came about for sponsorship reasons which would allow the league to bring in the best players from all over the world. The Premier League also promised to help the English national team by cutting the number of teams in the league from 22 to 20, resulting in fewer games during the season so the English players would be more rested for international competitions. Over 25 years later, I will be taking a look back at the best players, teams, and managers to have ever competed in the greatest league on earth. All of my records and stats come from the official Premier League website and only include the goals and assists that occurred in the Premier League, not any outside competition unless stated otherwise.

PLAYERS

Alan Shearer

The English legend holds the record for the most goals scored in Premier League history with 260. Shearer scored 112 of those goals with Blackburn Rovers. The striker spent four seasons with the club from 1992-1996. He led the Rovers to their first (and only) Premier League title during the 1994-1995 season. In July of 1996, Newcastle broke the world-record transfer fee for Shearer as they spent 15 million pounds on the Englishman, according to transfermarkt.us. It proved to be worth it as he continued his prolific goal scoring for the Magpies over the next eleven years.

In addition to his 260 goals, Shearer provided 64 assists, bringing his career goal contributions to 324 over his 15-year career. Over ten years after his retirement, nobody has come close to Shearer’s goal scoring record, with second place being 52 goals behind him. Will young Harry Kane be able to dethrone the king?

Thierry Henry

This one hurts for me, as Henry played all nine (ten if you want to count his “return” in 2011-2012) seasons of his Premier League career for Arsenal, which is the hated rival of the club I support, Tottenham Hotspur. At the time of writing, Henry is fifth in all-time goals scored in Premier League history with 175 and is the highest-scoring foreign player of all time. However, Argentine Sergio Aguero of Manchester City is only two goals behind and is expected to surpass the Frenchman before the end of the season. The winger/striker is also 11th all-time in assists with 74.

Henry holds the record for most Premier League Golden Boots (most goals in the season) with four and is one of only two players to score 20+ goals in five consecutive seasons. The most notable thing about the legend, however, is that he was apart of the 2003-2004 invincible season. Arsenal won 26 games and drew 12 as they remain the only team to go an entire season unbeaten.

Wayne Rooney

Rooney is second all-time in goals scored with 208 and third all-time in assists with 103. The Manchester United legend played two years at boyhood club Everton before making the 25 million euro switch to the Red Devils in 2004. Over the next 13 years, Rooney won five Premier League titles, an FA Cup, a Champions League, and a Europa League with Manchester United. He also holds the record for the most goals scored with one club (Manchester United) with 183.

CLUBS

Manchester United

This is an easy one. Manchester United holds just about every all-time record that matters. They have won the title 13 times, eight more than second-most Chelsea. They have recently surpassed 650 all-time wins in the league and at the time of writing sit at 652 total. The second-place team in this category, Arsenal, has 569 wins. It would take Arsenal over two-whole seasons of wins and United losses to catch up, which will definitely not happen. I can’t see United losing that record anytime soon. Another record they hold is most goals in Premier League history. At the time of writing the Red Devils have an all-time tally of 2,010 goals. Arsenal, second place yet again, only has 1,865.

Manchester United has been going through a rough patch over the last few years. They have not won the league since the 2012-2013 season, meanwhile, their crosstown rivals Manchester City have taken the crown three times since then (including twice in the last two seasons). I predict, however, that United will rebound from this rough stretch and get back to the powerhouse they once were. All they need is the right manager to come in and fix them up, something they have not had since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013. We will get to him later.

Chelsea

The Blues have had more recent success than Manchester United. They have won the title five times, including twice in the last five years. The London club is third all-time in wins with 566 and fourth all-time in goals scored with 1,798.

I didn’t mention him earlier, but Chelsea had one of the greatest players in Premier League history from 2001-2014. Frank Lampard was the heart and soul of that team and hung up the boots with three Premier League titles with the club. He just recently took over as manager of the club to try to bring them back to the greatness he experienced while he was there as a player.

Arsenal

As I mentioned earlier about Henry, this one hurts. I tried to find a way to write about Liverpool or maybe even Manchester City, but neither of them has the history that Arsenal does so let’s get this over with.

The Gunners are second all-time in wins with 569 at the time of writing, but hopefully, it stays at that number for a while. They have won the title three times, including the 2003-2004 season where they went unbeaten for the entire season, the only team to do so. The good news is they haven’t won the league since then. The second-best club in North London is also second all-time in goals scored with 1,865.

MANAGERS

Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex is without a doubt the greatest manager in Premier League history. He took over the Red Devils in 1986 and was in charge during all 13 of Manchester United’s Premier League titles, his last season being the last time the club won.

Not only was he amazing when he came to tactics, but he was also a very talented scout. In 2003, he signed a young Portuguese prospect from Sporting CP, that young player was Cristiano Ronaldo.

Pep Guardiola

Guardiola has only been a Premier League manager since 2016 when he took over at Manchester City after he was fired from German giants Bayern Munich. Since then, he has won the Premier League twice, including a record-breaking point tally in the 2017-2018 season when the Citizens reached 100 points. The following year they almost surpassed their record but instead finished the season with 98. While we only have a small serving size of Premier League Guardiola, I believe once he retires or leaves England we will be looking back on his time with Manchester City as one of the greatest managerial stints of all time.

Jose Mourinho

“The Special One” is responsible for bringing Chelsea their first two Premier League titles during his first stint at the club and their fourth title once he returned to the club after stints with Inter and Real Madrid. The Portuguese manager is known for spending a lot of money to bring in the world’s best players. During his time with the Blues, he bought over 20 players, including Ballon d’Or winner Andriy Shevchenko and legendary goalkeeper Petr Cech (full list here).

For more, check out my podcast where I am joined by my roommate as we discuss our favorite Premier League moments, favorite players, and how we got into the sport.