Ranked! The 20 worst Premier League teams ever – by points total
Over the years, the Premier League has brought some joyous moments of pure skill and drama, featuring stunning goals and last-minute reversals. It has also served up some absolute dross – and that’s what we’re celebrating here.
FourFourTwo have scoured the tables to bring you the 20 teams who’ve racked up the fewest points in a Premier League season (and even got the calculator out to adjust for the 42-game seasons of the early 1990s). Sunderland fans, look away now.
20. Bolton (1995/96)
Points: 29, Goal difference: -32
The Trotters trotted into their first Premier League season under new management. After steering them to the top flight via the play-offs, Bruce Rioch departed for Arsenal, with Roy McFarland joining as co-manager (a very ’90s role) alongside Rioch’s assistant Colin Todd.
The joint venture was a joint disaster. McFarland was sacked on New Years’ Day with Bolton glued to the bottom of the table. There was a brief revival under Todd’s sole stewardship, but Wanderers slid down into Division One on the penultimate day of the season. John McGinlay was their top scorer with nine, which says a lot.
19. Middlesbrough (2016/17)
Points: 28, Goal difference: -26
FourFourTwo went up to Middlesbrough’s training ground during this season for a couple of interviews, and Aitor Karanka was wandering around with no shoes on. A little insight into the glamorous football journalism life, there. The Spaniard had steered the club to the top flight with some exciting attacking football, but the goals dried up in the top flight despite the acquisition of Alvaro Negredo. Boro scored just 27 in the league all season.
After a strong start, there was an inexorable slide, and Karanka was given the boot in March to be replaced by Steve Agnew. Unfortunately it was all too late.
18. Reading (2012/13)
Points: 28 points, Goal difference: -28
It took the Royals until November to win their first league game of the season, a 2-1 triumph over Everton at the 11th attempt. A brief surge in form in January, including wins over Newcastle and West Brom, led to striker Adam le Fondre and manager Brian McDermott winning Player and Manager of the month respectively, but it was short-lived.
McDermott was sacked a month later and replaced by Nigel Adkins, who was unable to steady the ship. The Royals ended the season with six wins from 38 games, but still didn’t finish bottom (see QPR).
17. Watford (2006/07)
Points: 28, Goal difference: -30
Promoted clubs tended to struggle in this era, and Aidy Boothroyd’s Watford fit the bill perfectly, despite having brought in a number of experienced players including Chris Powell, and Danny Shittu, plus goalkeeper Ben Foster on loan from Manchester United.
It took until November for their first win, over Middlesbrough, and they didn’t get another until January 23 – the same day then-top-scorer Ashley Young departed for Aston Villa. Algerian Hameur Bouazza stepped up his game, but it wasn’t enough. The low point came when Spurs keeper Paul Robinson accidentally scored from a free-kick that bounced over Foster’s head.
16. Leicester (2001/02)
Points: 28, Goal difference: -34
A 5-0 defeat to newly promoted Bolton on the opening day set the tone for a dismal final season at Filbert Street. Peter Taylor lasted until the end of September before being replaced by Dave Bassett.
The new boss picked up a couple of wins before enduring a four-month winless run that sealed the Foxes' doom. They secured just five victories all season, despite the efforts of top league scorer Brian Deane (six goals) and player of the year Robbie Savage.