Winning the Premier League is one of the biggest achievements in football. England’s top league is considered one of the hardest in the world and it takes a fantastic team to win the competition. However, a team only ever really becomes a great team if they can retain the title and win back-to-back Premier League titles.
It’s easier said than done, with few clubs ever managing the feat. Furthermore, only Manchester United (several times) and Liverpool have managed to win three English league titles in succession. For many champions of the Premier League, retaining the title is not possible. However, some winners of the league have done better than others are defending their crown.
In the list below, you can check out the worst attempts at retaining the Premier League. These clubs have struggled under the pressure of being called champions. Looking at Premier League betting offers, some of these teams entered their title defense as a favorite to retain their crown but failed spectacularly.
- Blackburn (1995-96)
Blackburn’s rise to the top of English football was a fairytale, albeit a short lived one. In fact, the club’s success was one of the first examples of money being able to buy the title, a blueprint followed by Chelsea and Manchester City in following decades. Blackburn were funded by local millionaire Jack Walker, who bought the country’s best striker (Alan Shearer) and a former title winning manager (Kenny Dalglish).
It was a winning recipe that saw the club pip Manchester United to the title in 1995. As was expected, the club could not continue that success the following season, with Dalglish stepping down as manager. Still, a seventh-place finish was not a bad return.
- Leicester (2016-17)
As Chelsea’s title defense fell apart, Leicester City took advantage to win the Premier League. It was one of the greatest sporting achievements of all-time considering the club is not among England’s largest clubs and was thought to be a relegation candidate that season.
Under Italian manager Claudio Ranieri, the Foxes won on the back of good old-fashioned 4-4-2 football and plenty of passion. However, the momentum always looked unlikely to continue and in the following season Leicester could not replicate their title winning form.
Ranieri was sacked and eventually the team finished 12th in the final standings. While this is clearly a catastrophic drop, it was actually more or a normal finish for Leicester, which is why we cannot judge it too harshly. If anything, the club deserves credit for establishing itself as a major team in the Premier League since that title success.
- Chelsea (2015-16)
When Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea in 2013, he was no longer the self-anointed “Special One” but instead the “Normal One”. Nevertheless, Mourinho cemented his reputation as one of the best managers in the game by guiding Chelsea to the 2014-15 title and his third overall with the club.
However, the good times were not to last for either Chelsea or Mourinho as the Portuguese tactician’s bubble burst (six years on it has never really recovered). The Blues lost seven of their opening 12 games in the 2015-16 as their title defense collapsed as soon as it started.
Mourinho cut an increasingly toxic figure, pointing the blame at individual players, and even spectacularly falling out with the teams doctor. Mourinho was sacked in December with Chelsea in relegation form. The team recovered to 10th under caretaker Gus Hiddink, but with just 50 points this was a title defense to forget.
One to Watch – Liverpool (2020-21)
During the 2020-21 season, Liverpool is currently collapsing under the strain of defending their title. Amazingly, Liverpool have quickly moved from the best team in the country to a struggling team void of ideas. At the time of writing, the club is sixth and it could go either way. The title is gone, but will Liverpool recover to a top 4 finish or continue a freefall down the Premier League?… watch this space.