On this day in 2003: Defeat to Aston Villa sets unwanted records for Sunderland

The Black Cats endured a miserable end to the season 19 years ago.

By Press Association Published: 3 May 2022 - 5.00am

A 1-0 defeat by Aston Villa on May 3, 2003 made it a record-extending 14 Premier League losses in a row for Sunderland.

The Black Cats had already turned their thoughts to second tier football and the loss, which preserved Villa’s top-flight status, ensured they would finish with what was then the lowest points total in Premier League history.

Sunderland’s losing run began on January 18 with a 2-1 defeat by Everton, and they managed just six goals in those 14 matches.

Mick McCarthy (left) holds his head in his hands during Sunderland's record losing run
Mick McCarthy (left) holds his head in his hands during Sunderland’s record losing run (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Despite the result, the performance at Villa Park was one of Sunderland’s best following Mick McCarthy’s appointment as manager, with Marcus Allback’s late winner harsh on the North-East side.

Speaking after the match, McCarthy said: “I’m excited by next season. Whoever comes and whoever ends up staying, I expect them back in Sunderland on July 2 raring to go and with the target of winning the Championship.

“We have to set out with that target. I’m not saying we’re going to win it, but that has to be our goal. Beyond that, the second promotion place.

“The club should be in the Premier League, but it doesn’t always work like that. It is the team that gets there and stays there.”

Marcus Allback celebrates his winner for Aston Villa
Marcus Allback celebrates his winner for Aston Villa (PA)

Sunderland finished their season with a 4-0 defeat by Arsenal, leaving them with 19 points, and the next term also began with losses to Nottingham Forest and Millwall to make it 17 in a row.

They finally stopped the rot by beating Preston but could only finish third in the table before losing in the play-off semi-finals.

The club stuck with McCarthy, though, and he guided Sunderland to the Championship title the following season only for another relegation to follow in the 2005-06 campaign and an even lower points tally.

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