Although Norwich’s draw against Wigan last weekend means the Canaries can’t hit 100 points in 2018/19 – they may as well write off the season, to be honest – they’re still on course for a pretty hefty tally. How hefty? Well, 94 points (as projected) would put them in the top 20 of all 899 teams to play in the English second tier since three-point wins were introduced in 1981.
Today, FFT presents the top 10. Any teams before 1988/89 played fewer than 46 matches in a campaign and so we adjusted their tallies accordingly, but, as it turns out, none of them would’ve made this countdown anyway. No, not even Luton in 1981/82. We offer our sincerest apologies to David Pleat.
10. Bolton Wanderers, 1996/97 – 98pts (+47 GD)
The Battle of Burnden Park showed Bolton’s fight and togetherness under Colin Todd, their 3-0 win over promotion rivals Wolves featuring a 22-man bundle which goalkeeper Gavin Ward ran the length of the pitch to join. And, in Burden’s final season, how else could Bolton sign off than by running away with the league?
John McGinlay plundered 24 league goals and Nathan Blake 20 as the Trotters reached 100 on the final day. They were on course for 100 points, too, until Tranmere equalised in the last minute. Asked if the liquid in his paper cup was champagne, Todd replied: “Of course it’s champagne. We’ve been drinking it for weeks.”
9. Portsmouth, 2002/03 – 98pts (+52)
IIIIIIIIIT’S the Mandaric & Redknapp Show, with all of your favourite stars! Paul Merson! Shaka Hislop! Linvoy Primus!
Harry Redknapp wasn’t taking any chances in 2002/03. Having persuaded several Premier League players to drop a division, he doubled down in January, snapping up a 33-year-old Tim Sherwood and a 20-year-old Yakubu. Meanwhile, much-maligned Svetoslav Todorov found his level; 26 league goals represented two-thirds of his tally in all competitions across eight-and-a-half years in England. What a team.
8. Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2017/18 – 99pts (+43)
Nuno’s Wolves were a destructive force and would have broken the 100-point barrier with a final-day draw at Sunderland, who were already guaranteed to finish bottom. Sunderland won 3-0.
It was a strange end to a Championship campaign that a rampant Wolves led uninterrupted since October. While Jorge Mendes’s impact can hardly be ignored – it helped bring the league-record signing of Ruben Neves, as well as Diogo Jota, Willy Boly and more – unsung heroes included Conor Coady, Barry Douglas and John Ruddy, who was exceptional in the difficult role of Carl Ikeme’s replacement.
7. Chelsea, 1988/89 – 99pts (+46)
Our countdown’s only ’80s side finished 17 points clear, yet they took a while to settle: incredibly, Chelsea won none of their first six fixtures, drawing three and losing three, which means that for 87% of the season they averaged 2.4 points per game – more than any other team on here.
The freshly-relegated Blues were dominant and had quality all over the park, from Graham Roberts and Tony Dorigo at the back to Kerry Dixon up top. A young Graeme Le Saux made his debut on the final day.
6. Manchester City, 2001/02 – 99pts (+56)
The last of five consecutive seasons in which City were either promoted or relegated saw them top tier two with 99 points and 108 goals, putting them 10 points and 47 – forty-seven – goals ahead of West Bromwich Albion in second.
Keegan’s entertainers started as they meant to go on: an eight-game run in August and September brought 6-2, 5-2, 4-2, 3-0 and 3-0 wins, 4-0, 4-0 and 4-3 defeats, and no draws. All or nothing, you could say.
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