Top 5 worst title defences

Published 12/22/2015, 2:14 AM EST

How often have you seen champions perform shambolically the next season? Too often, isn’t it. For some reason the winners of the previous season just cant recapture their old form and end up performing poorly . Many managers who are considered legends couldn’t defend their titles, even Sir Alex and Arsene Wenger  couldn’t keep a hold on the league trophy for consecutive seasons at times. The best current example is of course of the Premier League holders Chelsea. Last season Chelsea were flying, winnning the league with an 8 point lead on runners up Manchester City. Contrary to their utter dominance last season, they have performed disastrously this season and  sit at the 15th position on the table and are only 3 points clear of the relegation zone. Their messiah Jose Mourinho who won them the league twice in two terms has also been given the marching orders.


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The decline in form of Eden Hazard is one of the reasons Chelsea attack is misfiring .

But Chelsea are not the only ones who have defended their title so poorly. So here we point out the 5 worst title defences by champions.


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  1. Blackburn Rovers – Premier League 1995
Blackburn Rovers won the 1994-95 premier league season overtaking previous years champions Man Utd with 3 points .

Blackburn appointed Kenny Dalglish as their manager and spent almost £10 millions on two young stars Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton. They, as a consequence won the league comprehensively beating the previous year’s holders by 3 points in the 1994-95 premier league season. The following year Kenny Dalglish moved upstairs, acting as the club director and his assistant Ray Harford was given the managerial post. What followed was a series of poor performances by the Rovers which saw them lie in the bottom half of the table for most part of the season. They somehow got back to winning ways in the last third of their season and managed a 7th place finish. 

2.  France – World Cup 1998

1998 world cup winning french side which got knocked out in the group stages of the next edition of the tournament .

National coach Aime Jacquet signed for the French national team in 1994. He started building a strong young team. He built a French brigade with Didier Deschamps as the captain. A young squad included legends of today with the likes of Zidane, Vieira, Trezeguet and Thiery Henry. Robert Pires was also one of the key members. The French won the 1998 edition of the World Cup beating the Brazilians 3-0 in the finals at the Stade de France. In the next edition of the World Cup, things changed for the French and the change was not good. They got knocked out in the group stages without scoring even a single goal and even suffered a shock defeat at the hands of debutantes Senegal. This was the biggest upset of the 2002 world cup for the then head coach Roger Lemerre, who was soon sacked . 

3. Chelsea – UEFA Champions League 2012

Roberto Di Matteo guided Chelsea to a champions league trophy defeating barcelona 3-2 on aggregate in the semi finals and finally beating Bayern 4-3 on penalties .

Chelsea won the UCL in 2012 after beating teams like FC Barcelona, Benfica, Napoli and finally Bayern Munich in the finals at the Allianz arena 4-3 on penalties. Roberto di Matteo who was the interim manager then, was given a permanent contract . The team had a strong backline with Terry as their leader and a great midfield with Juan Mata acting as the creative bone of the team. In attack, Drogba was firing and was in the form of his life . The next year’s performance was nothing less than an embarrassment as Chelsea were knocked out of the competition in the group stages, finishing 3rd in their group behind Juventus and Shaktar . This lead to Di Matteo being sacked and Rafa Benitez was made the interim manager until the end of the season. 

4 . Manchester United – Premier League 2013

The 2012-13 league title was United’s 13th premier league title and 20th first division title . United won the league handsomely, finishing 5 points clear of the second placed Manchester City. This league victory was a special one for United as it was the last one for the magician Sir Alex. United won this title with sheer dominance, bossing around almost every team in the league . This season saw Robin Van Persie net the ball a staggering 26 times .

MANCHESTER, Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson lifts the Premier League trophy following the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Swansea City at Old Trafford on May 12, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

The next season Sir Alex shifted to the chair of Director of Football and chose David Moyes to be his successor. What followed was heart break for the Old Trafford faithful as United performed poorly in all competitions. They finished 7th in the league and defended their title poorly and did not qualify for any European competition, a first since 1990. Moyes was subsequently sacked after 10 months and Ryan Giggs was made interim manager. 


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5 Chelsea – Fa Cup 1997

Chelsea winning the 1997 edition of Fa Cup .

Chelsea won the 1997 edition of the FA Cup beating Middlesbrough at Wembley in the finals 2-0. The Chelsea squad managed by Ruud Gullit won the series comprehensively. Roberto Di Matteo and Zola were the stand out performers for the West Londoners. Mark Hughes also played an important role in thier victory. In the next edition of the cup, Chelsea were knocked out of the competition in the 3rd round by Manchester United . United spanked chelsea 5-3 at Stamford Bridge with a brace from David Beckham as United ditched out the holders at an embarassingly early stage.


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Anurag Bahadur Singh

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