Less than a week ago, Manchester United imploded, leaving Manchester City to take home the spoils. Nevertheless, their defeat pales in significance to the ignominy some other teams have had to contend with during the Premier Leagues short history.
There are two kinds of defeats—one where you can hold your head up high and say “I gave it my all.”
Then there’s the humiliating defeat—a defeat where the upshot is complete and utter obliteration, and you end up asking yourself “what the hell happened?”
Well I am sure that the latter phrase was voiced by these Premier League teams...
Mar. 11 2000 at White Hart Lane
Glenn Hoddle took his side to his former stumping ground, only to witness Spurs tear the visitors apart, in a back and forth match which saw “The Saints” take the lead twice.
Southampton opened proceedings with a one-nil lead from Norwegian Jo Tessem, Spurs leveled the score with an own goal from Dean Richards.
The visitors took the lead for a second time courtesy of Tahar El Khalej, but once again Spurs cancelled them out, this time through Darren Anderton.
With four minutes remaining in the half Chris Armstrong gave the home side the lead, and just before time was up Steffen Iversen hit home Spurs fourth.
Spurs were in total control in the second half and it showed, with Armstrong hitting his brace and Iversen completing his hat-trick.
For Hoddle, a former Spurs player, a welcomed return to his former digs it was not.
August 25, 1997 at Ewood Park
The Rovers faithful were in for a treat as their players put in a star performance—four goals in the first ten minutes of the match—a brace from Kevin Gallacher, an own goal from Graham Hyde and a goal from Sheffield Wednesday’s Benito Carbone.
Before the end of the half, “The Owls” were 5-1 down, courtesy of Jason Wilcox and Chris Sutton.
The fight back from a humiliating defeat inspired Carbone to add another to his tally but Lars Boninen put paid to that five minutes later.
Sutton ended the night with his second, leaving Sheffield Wednesday with more questions than answers.
Two years later, “The Owls” were to suffer and even worse ignominious defeat.
November 24, 2007 at Goodison Park
“The Toffees” gave the “Black Cats” a cold dose of “The Blues” when they made the ill-fated trip to Goodison Park more than three years ago.
The Black Cats boss was none other than Man Utd hard man Roy Keane, and I doubt he had ever been subjected to a 7-1 decimation in his entire football career.
The nightmare began with an Ayegbeni Yakubu shot which was deflected on goal by Danny Higginbotham in the opening 12 minutes.
Five minutes later, Tim Cahill got on the score sheet to make it two.
Two minutes from time Steven Pienaar scored himself before Dwight Yorke made it 3-1 on the stroke of half-time.
Whatever Keane’s words of wisdom were during the interval, they obviously had no effect as Yakubu and Cahill both got their braces, whilst Andrew Johnson and Leon Osman closed up shop.
It was a woeful display by Sunderland and I can only surmise that on their return, the Stadium of Light must have been pitch-black.
Click here for the match highlights.
August 28, 2011 at Old Trafford
Man Utd were not to know that they were to experience the same fate as the Gunners less than two months after their mauling at Old Trafford.
Arsenal were on the cusp of relegation and the footballing GBH inflicted on them by the “Red Devils” only compounded their misery.
The punishment Man Utd meted out to Arsenal was swift and clinical.
Goals from Danny Welbeck, Nani, Park Ji-Sung, Ashley Young (brace) and Wayne Rooney (hat-trick) sent the visitors back to the Emirates with their tails firmly between their legs.
Suspension and injuries aside, two consolation goals were all they could muster.
Man Utd had condemned Arsenal to their biggest defeat in 115 years and the worse drubbing of Arsène Wenger’s 15 year reign.
This was only the third game of Man Utd’s Premier League season.
And with their closest rivals to the title being Manchester City and Chelsea, crushing Arsenal was a statement of intent—and in every sense of the word, it was emphatically stated.
October 25, 1997 at Old Trafford
This match was reminiscent of Man Utd’s nine goal onslaught of Ipswich more than two years earlier—and this was their biggest win since that eventful match.
With the “Red Devils” absolute raze of the unfortunate Tykes, they were consigned to their ninth league defeat of the season.
Man Utd were rampant and with Andy Cole leading the pack, Man Utd were 4-0 up by half time—a 43 minute goal from Ryan Giggs and a hat-trick from the in-form Cole.
Giggs got his brace in the second half whilst Karel Poborsky and Paul Scholes wrapped things up.
That season The Tykes were relegated.
May 11, 2008 at the Riverside Stadium
City’s dejection must have been akin to what Man Utd felt on Oct. 23 at Old Trafford, but even worse.
For Boro, this was the biggest win in their 132 year history and one they will savor for a long time yet.
On the day, City failed to live up to expectations, they capitulated on impact.
Some observers might have blamed the recent sacking of boss Sven Goran Eriksson as the reason for City’s poor showing, but nothing can detract from the mauling they suffered at the hands of Boro—it was a demolition job.
Two goals from Stewart Downing and Afonso Alves in the first half set the tone for the blitzkrieg in the second.
After Downing and Alves scored their respective braces on the 58th and 60th minute mark Boro ran riot, scoring at will—with goals from Adam Johnson, Fabio Rochemback and Jeremie Aliadiere.
City managed a consolation goal in the 87th minute through Elano, but City’s fate was sealed when Alves completed his hat-trick to end the proceedings.
February 6, 1999 at the City Ground
This was the year that Man Utd won the treble—the F.A Cup, Premier League title and the holy grail—the UEFA Championship.
Man Utd’s Dwight Yorke opened the scoring on two minutes before Alan Rogers equalized five minutes later, and that was it for the first half.
The second half saw Man Utd run riot, with Yorke scoring his second and Andy Cole scoring a brace.
With less than ten minutes to go, Sir Alex Ferguson unleashed super-sub Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
Solskjær went on a goal spree—scoring four in the time remaining.
It was a great result for the “Red Devils” but an unmitigated disaster for Forest and their home fans.
September 19, 1999 at St. James’ Park.
The late Sir Bobby Robson was at the helm when Alan Shearer and co wreaked havoc on an unsuspecting Sheffield Wednesday.
The match was Robson’s first home game as Newcastle supremo.
And by his side was the omnipotent striker Shearer, who had been left out of the side by the former “Magpies” boss Rudd Gullit.
Aaron Huges set the tone, whilst Kieron Dyer and Gary Speed played their part in the goal fest.
Be that as it may, it was Shearer, who in no little measure recompensed Robson with a five goal assault that had the Newcastle faithful in a state of euphoria.
Shearer’s five-goal salvo will forever be etched in the memories of the “Toon Army” as well as the eight-goal extirpation of “The Owls.”
November 11, 2009 at White Hart Lane.
This game mirrored Man Utd’s annihilation of Ipswich in 1995, in the fact that this was the first time a team had scored nine goals in a Premier League fixture since that fateful day almost 15 years ago.
There is nothing worse for a team to go into half-time one goal down with the hope that an equalizer after the interval will put things on an even keel, only to find out that the opposing side was just warming up.
Well that’s what happened at White Hart Lane—the first half saw Peter Crouch open the scoring in nine minutes.
Once the second half commenced, the floodgates were prised open—the trio of Aaron Lennon, David Bentley and Niko Kranjcar all got on the score sheet.
However, one man gets the honorable mention—Jermaine Defoe.
It was Defoe’s five goal blitz (a seven-minute hat-trick) that helped Spurs amass such a score line.
And with that, Defoe entered the record books, as being one of only three players to score five goals in the Premier League.
The others being Andy Cole and Alan Shearer.
March 4, 1995 at Old Trafford.
This was by far the worst mauling any team had ever had the displeasure of experiencing, it was the complete rout.
It turned out to be the biggest league win in 97 years.
And if that wasn’t enough, it was also the biggest win ever in Premier League history, and still stands today.
At the time Andy Cole was Britain’s most expensive striker, costing £7 million.
It was Cole who delivered the worst blow—scoring five.
Next up was Mark Hughes with a brace, whilst Roy Keane and Paul Ince scored one a piece.
The win over Ipswich was instrumental in Man Utd overhauling Blackburn Rovers lead at the top of the Premiership, and also one of the reasons they secured the title that year.
The thrashing Man Utd inflicted upon the “Tractor Boys” was not par for the course, it just happened.
The Tractor Boys arrived at the “Theatre of Dreams” hoping for a miracle, but they departed with the stuff of nightmares.
Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City
October 23, 2011 at Old Trafford.
One of the worst days in Man Utd’s history was compounded by the fact that it had come against their neighbours City, one their fiercest rivals.
Man Utd never got off the starting block and paid dearly for it.
Edin Dzeko scored a hat-trick, Balotelli a brace and Sergio Aguero a lone goal.
Darren Fletcher’s consolation goal is what is most applicable to the teams who normally dare to challenge the might that is Man Utd.
They now knew what it was like to be on the receiving end of an absolute thrashing.
It was a day the Red Devils would rather forget—as they were well and truly humbled.
Man Utd’s loss now places them five points behind City in the Premier League, with a 12 point goal difference which could come back to haunt them when the season draws to a close.
Manchester United 6-1 Sheffield Wednesday
November 1, 1997 at Old Trafford
At this point Man Utd were already the four-time Premier League champions, and Sheffield Wednesday found to their cost what real champions were made of.
“The Owls” did manage a goal in the 69th minute through Guy Whittingham, but that’s the best they could offer.
The triple threat of Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær, each bagging a brace, completed the rout.