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Dublin: 4°C Friday 5 March 2021

5 of the worst title defences of recent history

After another defeat for Chelsea at the weekend, we look at other dreadful title defences.

Jose Mourinho has presided over the worst title defence of any Premier League team.
Jose Mourinho has presided over the worst title defence of any Premier League team.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

CHELSEA HAVE MADE the worst start to a season by any reigning Premier League champion, but who else has had a similar disaster in defending their title?

1. Manchester United: Premier League 2013/14

After taking over a side that claimed the Premier League by 11 points, David Moyes’ time in charge of the defending champions could not have gone much worse with Moyes sacked with four games left in the season.

The defending champions achieved many unwanted records during the 2013/14 season including a first-ever home defeat to Swansea, a first home defeat to Newcastle since 1972, a first home defeat to West Brom since 1978; culminating in United’s worst home record in over a decade.

United missed out on the Champions League for the first time since 1995 and any European football since 1990.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Quarter Final - Second Leg - Bayern Munich v Manchester United - Allianz Arena David Moyes was deemed as 'the chosen one' by United supporters. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

2. Lleyton Hewitt: Wimbledon 2003

Lleyton Hewitt looked like the man to take over from Pete Sampras, when he claimed his first Wimbledon title in 2002.

All did not go to plan for the Australian the following year, as Hewitt went on to lose against the then unknown Croatian, Ivo Karlovic, in the first round.

Hewitt, still holds the unwanted record of being the only man to lose in the first round of Wimbledon as a defending champion.

Tennis - Wimbledon 2004 - Quarter Finals - Roger Federer v Leyton Hewitt Hewitt remains the only male defending champion to lose in the first round of Wimbledon. Source: Barry Coombs

3. Ulster: Heineken Cup 1999-2000

Ulster became the first Irish winners of the Heineken Cup in 1999, when they beat French side Colomiers in the final of the European Cup at Lansdowne Road.

However, the Ulstermen were unable to put up any significant defence of their title, as they finished bottom of their pool, the following season.

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Six defeats out of six, against Llanelli, Wasps and Bourgoin left the Irish side with no points and a bitterly disappointing defence of their title.

Ulster Fans spill on to the pitch 30/1/1999 Ulster fans spill on to the Lansdowne Road pitch, to celebrate their European success. Source: Patrick Bolger/INPHO

4. France: World Cup 2002 

France entered the tournament as strong favourites having added a European Championship in 2000, to their World Cup triumph from 1998.

Despite this, the French team became the first reigning champions in 36 years to be knocked out of the tournament at the first stage.

Les Bleus registered just one point and failed to score a goal from a group containing Senegal, Denmark and Uruguay resulting in the sacking of coach Roger Lemerre.

Soccer - FIFA World Cup 2002 - Group A - Denmark v France Not even Zinedine Zidane could prevent France's disastrous campaign. Source: EMPICS Sport

5. Clare: All-Ireland Hurling Championship 2014

Clare failed to replicate their form in 2014, which saw them win their first Liam MacCarthy in 16 years, the year before.

Beaten finalists Cork, managed to get their revenge in 2014, by beating the Banner County in the Munster semi-final.

In fact, Clare wouldn’t win a match as defending champions after they lost to Wexford in a replay in the first round of the qualifiers.

Shane O'Donnell goes past Shane O'Neill Shane O'Donnell was one of Clare's heroes in 2013. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

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About the author:

Shane Costello

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