Football is the world’s most popular sport with approximately 250 million players playing it in over 200 countries. Within the top 5 European men’s league the Premier League definitely stands out as it is the most-watched sports league in the world. The Premier League has a very rich history, starting out as the Football League in 1888 to making around $42 billion in 2019-20. With the commemoration of the new 2021-22 season, I wanted to rewind time a little and speak about who I think are the biggest English clubs in domestic history. I have tried to look at this as objectively as possible and have also mentioned the greatest and most memorable moments from their history.
5. Tottenham Hotspurs FC
During their colourful lifespan, Tottenham Hotspur were mostly known as cup specialists. Tottenham Hotspur FC was founded in 1882, by a group of grammar-school boys from All Hallows Church. At first, the club was simply named Hotspur; in order to avoid confusion with an older club named Hotspur FC, the name was soon changed to Tottenham Hotspur.
I would like to talk about the successful years under Bill Nicholson which I feel were their best period in their history. Appointed in 1958, Nicholson’s 16 years with the Tottenham brought the club a League title (1961), three FA Cups (1961, 1962, 1967), two League Cups (1971, 1973), one Cup Winners’ Cup (1963) and the inaugural UEFA Cup (1972). In fact, Nicholson’s departure in 1974 left an immediate impact on the club, which was relegated not long afterwards.
Like Arsenal, I do feel the quality of the Spurs side has gone down from the glory they had and are now an average team. With key players like Harry Kane wanting to leave the club, I personally do not see them as title contenders in the near future. This does not change the fact that they have had a glorious past when they actually used to win trophies 🙂
4. Liverpool FC
Since they were founded in 1892, the Liverpool Football Club name was synonymous with fame and glory. Following the moving of Everton to Goodison Park in 1892, the club’s then-president John Houlding suddenly found himself with the rights to Anfield stadium and no team to play on it. Always a practical man, Houlding quickly decided to circumvent this problem by forming his own club – Liverpool.
The Billy Shankly era is a greatly overlooked time during Liverpool’s history. When Bill Shankly was hired as manager, the first thing he did was release the whole first-team roster. He then transformed the club’s storage room into the renowned “Boot Room,” which would become the coaches’ secret gathering spot for the next three decades. Shankly’s unconventional methods paid off quickly. Liverpool won the League two years after regaining their place in the First Division in 1962. They won a further two League titles (1966, 1973), two FA Cups (1965, 1974), and their first European trophy – the 1973 UEFA Cup – during Shankly’s term as manager.
People do not talk much about Liverpool’s history but they are in fact the most successful British club of all time in international tournaments. With 19 Premier League trophies, 7 FA Cups, 8 League Cups, 5 Champions League, and 3 UEFA Cups Liverpool are extremely underrated. I believe Klopp’s tenure with Liverpool will also be quite historical as he brought the club out of a stagnancy of sorts by winning the Champions League and the Premier League in a span of 5 years.
3. Chelsea FC
While Chelsea was a reasonably consistent club for most of their history, people nowadays usually associate them with the football juggernaut they’ve become at the turn of the century; not much of a surprise, considering the club won the majority of their silverware in that period. Chelsea was founded in 1905 by Gus Mears, an English businessman who had earlier bought the Stamford Bridge athletics stadium with the plan of transforming it into a football ground. His original idea was to rent it to an existing club, but after a deal with Fulham FC was halted, he got the idea to start a new club.
Chelsea was always an average club up until 2003 when Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the club. This forever changed Chelsea’s landscape. The new owner instantly put Chelsea on a path to financial stability, paying off the majority of the club’s debts and spending an amount of money on star additions that was unprecedented at the time. Even yet, it wasn’t until José Mourinho’s arrival that all the pieces fell into place; Chelsea won back-to-back Premier League trophies in 2005 and 2006, as well as two League Cups in 2005 and 2007, and an FA Cup in 2007. This truly was the golden era of the club and even after Mourinho left the club Chelsea continued to be a dominant force in English football.
In recent years Chelsea are still extremely threatening and have a bright future up ahead.
2. Arsenal FC
As one of the most successful and beloved clubs in England, Arsenal Football Club has always been a magnet for the public. Arsenal FC started life as a works team named Dial Square in 1886 – the workers were blacksmith’s that built cannons, which is the reason for the club being known as the Gunners. Shortly thereafter, the club turned professional and changed its name to Woolwich Arsenal, becoming a full-fledged member of the Football League in 1893 (the first club from the south parts of the country).
I feel Arsenal had 2 major turning points in their history, the first being their rise to prominence in the Chapman era. The club hired Herbert Chapman as manager in 1925. He modernized the club completely by improving training regimen and making changes to the club’s formation. After signing a couple of star players he gave Arsenal their first major trophy in 1930. This proved to be the beginning of a fruitful period for the club; during the 30s, they claimed five league titles and another FA Cup trophy. Following WWII, the team continued to prosper, winning two more League titles (1948, 1953) as well as an FA Cup (1950).
The second turning point was of course the Wenger era. The club was transformed into a goal-scoring giant almost instantly by the then-unknown French manager, thanks in part to the successful import of French players like as Robert Pirés, Patrick Vieira, and Thierry Henry. As the team’s attack lace, Henry was highly effective. Arsenal won three Premier League titles and three FA Cups between 1996 and 2004, with the 2003–2004 season standing out since the club did not lose a single game in the league. That team, led by Henry’s 30 goals in 37 games, was dubbed “The Invincibles” later on.
Arsenal has been a perennial bridesmaid in recent years. While the team was always a favourite to win the league, a spate of catastrophic injuries and/or dismal losses would inevitably cause them to fall behind in the standings. Things only seem to be going down from Wenger’s departure in 2018 but their 3 Premier League titles, and 14 FA Cups serve a reminder to everyone of how great they once were.
1. Manchester United FC
Manchester United is one of the most prestigious football clubs and has always maintained a distinguished tradition, a record of consistent success, and a great history. The club that later would be named Manchester United FC was initially founded in the year 1878, named as Newton Heath L&YR Football Club. L&YR as in Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, which were the company the team’s players worked
The greatest period of this club was definitely the Alex Ferguson era. The club appointed Alex Ferguson as manager in the year 1986. Although Ferguson’s first 4 years were extremely difficult, their FA Cup win in 1990 changed everything. The team won at least 25 major trophies during the next two decades, including about eleven League titles. In the year 1994, Manchester United became the first team to win both the Premier League and the FA Cup. The team then went on to win the FA Cup, Premier League, and UEFA Champions League all at the same time in 1998-1999, making it the first English club to do it. The team maintained its incredible run by defeating Palmeiras to win the club world championship.
Unfortunately, the post-Ferguson from 1986-2013 was a period of decline. None of David Moyes, Ryan Giggs, and the reputable Louis van Gaal, in the manager role, could repeat the successful Ferguson formula
No matter how hard it is to say for me, Manchester United definitely deserve the number one spot on this list for their consistent domestic success with a few ups and downs. Winning 13 Premier League titles, 7 Football League trophies, 12 FA Cups, and 5 League Cups indeed makes them the most successful English club. The current squad has big shoes to fill in if they want to remain on top
- Manchester United FC
- Arsenal FC
- Chelsea FC
- Liverpool FC
- Tottenham Hotspur FC
- Manchester City FC
- Everton FC
- Newcastle United
- Aston Villa FC
- West Ham United FC
Here are my top 5 biggest clubs in England. All of these clubs had extremely memorable golden periods and it was very fun researching on them and learning more about the history of clubs especially in the mid-1900s. That being said, all of these clubs have big big shoes to fill in to match the quality of football their fans expect them to play, especially when clubs like Manchester City are rising extremely quickly. I hope you enjoyed reading and let me know in the comments if you feel a club has not been given the recognition you think it does.