8. West Ham 2009/10
The mitigating circumstances: West Ham’s Icelandic owners were in financial trouble after the banking crisis. The footballing problems: West Ham didn’t get any points in September or March. They didn’t win in October, January or May. They didn’t win away from home after the opening day and only beat two of the top 12.
They didn’t keep a clean sheet between August and Christmas, and only managed one after February. They averaged under a point a game and survived, ultimately, by default as three other teams got 30 points or fewer. And then their new owners, David Gold and the David Sullivan, sacked Gianfranco Zola, appointed Avram Grant and it got even worse.
7. Everton 1997/98
MORE CRAP SEASONS
Everton haven’t been relegated since 1951. They’ve never come closer to going down than in 1998, staying up only on goal difference. Arguably their greatest manager, Howard Kendall, almost presided over a historic low, but his third spell at Goodison Park was an undignified affair.
Everton were bottom in a dreadful November and Kendall’s problems with alcoholism were a factor in a damaging year. Joe Royle’s FA Cup-winning team was broken up, with David Unsworth, Andy Hinchcliffe and Graham Stuart sold, while the disillusioned captain and lifelong Evertonian, Gary Speed, put in a transfer request and joined Newcastle.
6. Liverpool, 1993/94
The last ever goal in front of the old Kop, before it was replaced by an all-seater stand, was scored by Jeremy Goss as Norwich won. Liverpool lost their status as the last Double winners to Manchester United and finished 32 points behind the champions – in eighth, their lowest finish for 31 years.
They lost nine of their last 14 games and were knocked out of the FA Cup by Bristol City, prompting the departure of Graeme Souness, a legend as a player but an increasing liability as a manager. Other playing greats, in Ronnie Whelan and Bruce Grobbelaar, also reached an anticlimactic end. At least a teenage Robbie Fowler scored 18 goals.
5. Manchester City, 2008/09
If it was the year that changed everything, it was an inauspicious start for City. Sheikh Mansour’s takeover and Robinho’s arrival catapulted them into the ranks of the super-rich and summer signings Pablo Zabaleta and Vincent Kompany would become club legends, but Mark Hughes played the Belgian in midfield and they spent Christmas in the relegation zone.
A 10th-place finish felt flattering for a club with just two away wins and underwhelming after a then-whopping £74 million was spent in the summer, and a further £40 million in January. Cup exits to Brighton and Nottingham Forest were further lows.