10 of football's weirdest streaks and hoodoos
1. Dave Bassett's Christmas Party
Come Christmas 1990, newly promoted Sheffield United were languishing at the foot of the table, but a run of seven consecutive wins in the New Year meant they surged to safety. Similarly, they won just five league games before the festive period the following term, but 11 afterwards.
Inspired by their festive fillips, manager Dave Bassett organised an impromptu early Christmas party ahead of the 1992/93 season opener against Manchester United. Brian Deane netted the Premier League's first-ever goal, the Blades won 2-1 en route to a mid-table finish and they reached the FA Cup semi-finals for good measure. Bassett decided against a repeat party the following season, United were relegated and have enjoyed just one Premier League campaign in the two decades since.
2. The curse of Ryoichi Maeda
Ryoichi Maeda is a deadly finisher in more ways than one. For six seasons straight between 2007 and 2012, the team he scored his first goal of the season against were relegated from the J-League.
The former Japan international, at the time playing for Jubilo Iwata, sent Ventforet Kofu, Tokyo Verdy, Jef United Chiba, Kyoto Sanga, Motedio Yamagata and Gamba Osaka on their way to a tumble through the trap door to J2 – the latter having finished in the top three for the previous three seasons.
The sequence was finally broken in 2013 when Urawa Red Diamonds ended in a lofty sixth place. Jubilo, on the other hand, were relegated. A now-35-year-old Maeda currently plies his trade for FC Tokyo.
3. Sky Blues singing the blues
Coventry City hold the unbelievable unwanted record of having not finished in the top six of any division since 1970. The 46-year run has seen them relegated twice, but in that time only finish above 10th three times – in 1977/78 (7th), 1988/89 (7th) and 2005/06 (8th).
The Sky Blues have dropped from the Premier League to League One, where financial woes have helped them resume this remarkably pathetic run. Last season they came close to ending it – after the 27th matchday they were fourth, but won only two of their next 14 league games and plummeted to mid-table. Four wins from their last five helped them finish eighth, matching their 2005/06 Championship offering.
This year they'll do well to avoid being relegated to League Two – they're currently rock bottom after 10 games without a win. So next time you hear a Sky Blue supporter banging on about their 1987 FA Cup triumph, just let them have their moment.
4. Guttmann's ghastly pledge
Bela Guttmann delivered five trophies in three seasons during his initial spell as Benfica boss. So, following the 1962 European Cup Final triumph over Real Madrid, he asked for a pay rise.
When the board declined, Guttmann stormed out and famously proclaimed: "Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion."
Since Guttmann 'cursed' the club, the Eagles have duly lost all eight of their European showdowns, including five European Cup finals (1963, 1965, 1968, 1988 and 1990) plus three UEFA Cup/Europa League ones (1983, 2013 and 2014) – in 2014/15 on penalties to Sevilla, following late heartbreak against Chelsea in the previous season.