By Brian Sears
27 September 2013
Sunderland’s woeful start to the season has left them bottom of the Premier League with one point from five games, a tally that has led 64 per cent of clubs in the same situation to relegation.
In the 21 completed seasons of the Premier League, 14 clubs have amassed just a single point from their opening five games, and nine of those (or 64 per cent) have ended up relegated.
Three other teams have won no points at all from their first five games and two of those three (66.6 per cent) went down. But as we’re considering Sunderland, who have one point, the 64 per cent is more relevant.
The 17 teams with the poor starts described are in the first graphic below.
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If Sunderland seek solace, it comes via the five teams who started with one point from five games but survived.
In detail, there were:
Everton in 1994-95, who finished 15th and did not collect a first win until their 13th game.
Blackburn in 1996-97, who finished 13th after a first win in the 12th game.
Coventry in 1996-97, who finished 17th after a first win in their sixth game.
Newcastle in 1999-2000, who finished as high as 11th and won their first game in the eighth game.
Middlesbrough in 2003 – 04, who also finished 11th, after a first win in their sixth game.
Sunderland’s own predecessors of 2005-06 are bad role models for the present side. They had no points from their first five games and although they gained five points from the next three games only had a total of 15 from all 38 games which is now the second lowest total of the era, the lowest being achieved two seasons later by Derby with 11 points.
The most recent side to gain only one point from five games and then be relegated was West Ham of three seasons ago. In their sixth game they beat Tottenham at home 1-0 amid talk of corners being turned. But their next win did not come for another nine games and they finished bottom with 33 points.
What other solace might Sunderland fans take using past Premier League seasons as a yardstick?
The graphic below details the first sacking of each PL season to date, and the sackings where the detail is against a pink backdrop all happened when the clubs were in the relegation zone.
Eight of the ‘first sackings’ before this season happened when the clubs were in the relegation zone; and four of them led to those clubs eventually reaching safety.
But eight of 21 clubs making the first sacking finished in the same place in the league as when they made the sacking, and a further four finished lower than when the sacking was made. In other words, 12 of 21 ‘first sackings’ (or 57 per cent) had no overall effect or a detrimental effect, at least in terms of league placing.
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