Is Almeria on Track to Break Derby County’s Record as the Worst Top-flight Team Ever?
Derby County fans have long held the unfortunate distinction of supporting the worst top-flight team in the history of Europe’s big five leagues. The Rams’ 2007-08 season saw them suffer relegation from the Premier League with just 11 points. However, it appears that their record is under serious threat from La Liga strugglers Almeria.
Owned by ambitious Saudi entrepreneur Turki Al-Sheikh, Almeria was promoted to La Liga in 2022 and narrowly avoided relegation last season. The summer saw the surprise resignation of coach Rubi but was followed by significant investment in new signings, raising hopes for a more successful campaign. Unfortunately, new boss Vicente Moreno quickly fell out with the club’s hierarchy and was fired after a disappointing start to the season.
Youth team coach Alberto Lasarte was appointed caretaker, but his one game in charge reflected much of the campaign’s struggles. Despite racing into a 3-0 half-time lead against fellow strugglers Granada, Almeria’s nervous defense collapsed, resulting in a disappointing 3-3 draw. This setback was made worse by an injury to star striker Luis Suarez that sidelined him for three months.
The newly appointed coach Gaizka Garitano has somewhat improved the team’s defense but has failed to secure a victory in his first six league games in charge. To make matters worse, Almeria suffered an embarrassing elimination from the Copa del Rey by fourth-tier Barbastro. This setback further decimated any lingering confidence and intensified their struggles.
Surprisingly, Almeria has shown signs of promise despite their winless season. They have performed well against top opponents, dominating away at Atletico Madrid and nearly claiming a point at champions Barcelona. Nevertheless, they have consistently failed to convert chances and defend calamitously, often conceding more goals than they should.
Almeria’s last game against Valencia perfectly encapsulated their season. Midfielder Gonzalo Melero missed an early sitter, and moments later, unmarked opposition striker Hugo Duro scored the opener. Instead of leading 1-0, Almeria found themselves 1-0 down and eventually lost the match 2-1.
Currently, Almeria is on track to break Sporting Gijon’s record for the longest winless start to a La Liga season, having gone 23 games without a victory. If they fail to win their next game against Athletic Bilbao, they will claim this undesirable record outright. Additionally, they have the opportunity to equal Levante’s record for the longest winless run in La Liga history, set at 27 games over two seasons.
Despite their struggles, Almeria has shown glimpses of potential. Individual players like Sergio Arribas, Lucas Robertone, and Edgar Gonzalez have impressed and could earn moves to other top-flight clubs. Manager Gaizka Garitano will also be hoping to finish the season strongly to secure his position and potentially mount a promotion challenge next season.
Derby County fans can now cross their fingers and hope that Almeria’s next 15 games follow the same pattern as their previous 23. If this happens, the unfortunate distinction of being the worst top-flight team in Europe’s elite history might just change hands.