How history proves that Sunderland are not too good to drop down to the third tier

When Simon Grayson says Sunderland's aren't too big to go down to the third tier, history says he's right.

Thursday, 12th October 2017, 10:21 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:50 am
Sunderland players walk off after relegation is confirmed

After a poor start to the season that has yielded only seven points and one win from the opening eleven Championship games, Sunderland find themselves languishing in 23rd place in the table.

And while fears of a second successive relegation are already mounting, a look at how the Black Cats’ start in 2017/18 compares with that made by other big clubs ahead of dropping into the third tier will do nothing to calm fans’ nerves.

The Sunderland side which plunged into the old Third Division in 1987 had 17 points after eleven games of that fateful season under Lawrie McMenemy – compared with the Black Cats’ seven points from eleven games so far this term.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

And how does the Black Cats start in 2017/18 compare with five other big clubs to have famously made the same drop?

Blackburn Rovers

Relegated to third tier: 2016/17

Points after eleven games: 8

Position after eleven games: 22nd

Final points tally: 51

Final position: 22nd

Relegation to League One in 2017 meant Blackburn Rovers became the first Premier League winners to fall to the third tier.

Following their relegation from the Premiership Blackburn lasted five unspectacular seasons before facing the drop.

During their relegation season, Blackburn started poorly with two wins after eleven games, and only a point more than Sunderland.

Only goal difference ensured they were relegated, finishing level on points with Nottingham Forest.

Leeds United

Relegated to third tier: 2006/07

Points after eleven games: 10

Position after eleven games: 22nd

Final points tally: 36

Final position: 24th

A dramatic fall from grace saw Leeds United drop into League One a mere five years after becoming Champions League semi-finalists.

Leeds spent three years in the Championship and were relegated after finishing rock bottom a season after achieving a play-off place.

Leeds’ cost cutting which resulted in their decline is not dissimilar to Sunderland.

However, the Yorkshire side were three points better off after nine games in their relegation season.

Leicester City

Relegated to third tier: 2007/08

Points after eleven games: 12

Position after eleven games: 19th

Final points tally: 52

Final position: 22nd

After a single season back in the Premier League, Leicester dropped into the Championship and battled with relegation for three seasons before facing the drop in 2008.

The Foxes took 12 points from their first eleven games.

Sunderland fans will hope to emulate Leicester’s success, who despite relegation, emphatically won the Premiership in 2016, less than a decade later.

Manchester City

Relegated to third tier: 1997/98

Points after eleven games: 10

Position after eleven games: 21st

Final points tally: 48

Final position: 22nd

City were founding members of the Premier League in 1992, but by 1998 they found themselves playing in the old Division Two – becoming only the second ever club to have won a European trophy before falling to the third tier.

In their relegation season, City started poorly, but still managed to pick up three more points than Sunderland have earned after eleven games.

The Sky Blues were ultimately only one point shy of safety come the end of the 1997/98 season, and bounced back to the second tier at the first attempt after some wholesale changes on and off the pitch.

Nottingham Forest

Relegated to third tier: 2004/05

Points after eleven games: 9

Position after eleven games: 22nd

Final points tally: 44

Final position: 23rd

The first ever European Cup winners to be relegated to their country’s third tier, the Reds suffered a torrid 2004/05 campaign that saw them relegated with a whimper.

Even a change in manager wasn’t enough to stave off relegation as the appointment of Gary Megson in 2005 failed to have the desired effect – a warning to Sunderland if there is a temptation to dismiss Simon Grayson.

Forest had two points more than Sunderland after nine games and eventually finished six points adrift.