Sunderland in danger of making worst Premier League start this century

Mick McCarthy was manager of Sunderland in their 2005-06 relegation season

Mick McCarthy was manager of Sunderland in their 2005-06 relegation season

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Sunderland must avoid defeat at West Ham on Saturday to avoid the shame of the worst start to a Premier League season by any club this century.

Not since Sheffield Wednesday in 1999 have a club recorded two points or less in their opening nine games of a top-flight campaign.

Even Aston Villa, relegated by mid-April this year, boasted four points from their first nine outings last season.

So too – in 2013-14 – did the Sunderland side after a start deemed disastrous enough for Paolo Di Canio to be sacked as manager.

And the Black Cats picked up five points in their opening nine games of the 2005-06 relegation season under Mick McCarthy.

Having mustered three points from the same period at this stage last year, Sunderland are the first top-flight club for 111 years to go winless in their opening eight games in successive seasons.

The last team to do that was Bury in 1905-06, though they avoided relegation by winning their last three games of the season – including betaing Sunderland 3-0 on the final day.

Equally worryingly, only five of the club bottom of the Premier League in the last 15 seasons after their opening nine games went on to avoid relegation – although Sunderland in 2015-16 were among them.

BOTTOM OF THE PREMIER LEAGUE AFTER NINE GAMES:

2015-16: Sunderland – 3 points

2014-15: Burnley – 4 points *

2013-14: Crystal Palace – 3 points *

2012-13: QPR – 3 points *

2011-12: Blackburn – 5 points *

2010-11: West Ham – 6 points *

2009-10: Portsmouth – 3 points *

2008-09: Spurs - 5 points

2007-08: Derby – 5 points

2006-07: Charlton 4 points *

2005-06: Everton 4 points

2004-05: Crystal Palace 5 *

2003-04: Leicester 5 points *

2002-03: Bolton 7 points

2001-02: Leicester 5 points*

2000-01: Derby County 5 points

* Signifies club was relegated that season