THE BLOG

The Four Worst Title Defences of the Premier League Era

13/11/2014 17:08 GMT | Updated 13/01/2015 10:59 GMT

Winning the Premier League title is a monumental challenge in itself, but successfully retaining it is an even harder task and something that only Manchester United and Chelsea have managed since the new era began in 1992.

Manchester City won their second Premier League crown last term, but are already playing catchup in this season's title race after a string of poor results over the first three months of the campaign.

But the current City team isn't alone in melting under the pressure when it comes to defending the title, with several spectacular examples over the years.

4. Leeds United - 1992/93

After the glory days of the 1960s and 1970s, Leeds United had fallen on hard times by the 1980s. The club spent most of the decade languishing in the second tier, but the arrival of Howard Wilkinson in 1988 sparked a huge upturn in the Yorkshire club's fortunes.

After earning promotion back to the top flight in 1990, Leeds ended the 1991/92 season as champions of England - the last First Division title before a new era began. Ahead of the new campaign, Wilkinson's side won the Charity Shield, but defending their crown in the maiden Premier League season proved to be an impossible task.

A dreadful run of results in the first half of the season, during which the side's talisman Eric Cantona was also famously sold after falling out with the manager, saw just six wins before the new year and left Leeds way off the pace. The campaign ended with just one win in the final 10 games and while Cantona was lifting the title with Manchester United, his former club finished in 17th place - 33 points behind the new champions and only two points above the relegation zone.

3. Blackburn Rovers - 1995/96

Blackburn Rovers were accused of 'buying' success long before the days of Roman Abramovich at Chelsea and Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City. Lancashire born businessman Jack Walker took control of the club in 1991 and ploughed millions into player recruitment. The arrivals of Alan Shearer in 1992 and Chris Sutton in 1994 both broke the British transfer record and in May 1995, Blackburn were crowned Premier League champions after finishing one point ahead of Manchester United.

The following season, things immediately changed for the club though as manager Kenny Dalglish moved into a director of football role. Despite winning the opening game, the champions got off to a bad start in the defence of their crown, including a loss in a crucial home clash against United before the end of August.

Blackburn's form picked up during the Christmas and New Year period with Shearer finding the net regularly, but the damage had already been done. A run of four winless games in February was another huge setback and even though they finished with a flourish, Rovers ended the 1995/96 campaign in seventh place and 21 points off the top.

2. Manchester City - 2012/13

Manchester City provided English football with one of its all time great moments at the end of the 2011/12 campaign, when Sergio Aguero scored with virtually the last kick of the season to crown his team Premier League champions for the first time.

It had been more than 40 years since the last time City had won the English league, but thanks in no small part to the huge financial injection from the club's Abu-Dhabi based ownership, manager Roberto Mancini and his players made the dream into a reality. However, in their attempts to retain it, the Sky Blues were left trailing from the very start.

Prior to the 2012/13 season, Mancini missed out on primary target Robin van Persie, who chose Manchester United instead and failed to bring in the right calibre of players to improve his squad. With van Persie's goals, United stormed ahead and out of sight and the title was mathematically sewn up as early as April. City then proceeded to lose the FA Cup final against Wigan and although the team finished the league season in second place Mancini still lost his job.

1. Manchester United - 2013/14

Manchester United ran away with the Premier League title in 2012/13, but given the ageing nature of the squad there was always a nagging doubt about would happen when legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson eventually decided to call it a day. A few short weeks after the title was won, the Scot announced his intention to retire and handpicked highly respected Everton boss David Moyes as his successor.

Few expected Moyes to walk straight in and replicate Ferguson's level of success, but things were immediately made much harder when the fixture list threw up games against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City in the opening weeks of the season. United got off to a poor start, but even with the tough games out of the way the team's form didn't improve.

Lurching from pillar to post it quickly became apparent that the reigning champions would get no way near defending their crown. In April, having spent most of the season in seventh place, Moyes was sacked following humiliating defeats against Liverpool, City and Everton. Ryan Giggs took over as caretaker manager, but there was to be no improvement, with United finishing outside the top three for the first time in the Premier League era.

For more fan views and opinion visit www.90min.com