Thursday night's defeat to Sheffield United was City's sixth straight league defeat – ironically with probably their best display of the six. The last time City lost five consecutive league games was four years ago just after the club were relegated from the Championship. Andy Thorn's final game in charge was a 2-2 home draw with Bury and Richard Shaw and Lee Carsley were put in temporary charge of the team. After a thrilling 3-2 League Cup win over Birmingham City, the caretaker duo were in charge for four league games, all of which were lost. A 1-0 loss at Crewe was followed by a 2-1 home defeat to Stevenage and away defeats at Tranmere (0-2) and Shrewsbury (1-4). Mark Robins took over as permanent manager and lost his first game in charge (a 2-1 home defeat to Carlisle).
You have to go back 43 years for the last occurrence of a City side losing more than five consecutive league games. For several months of the 1972-73 season City fans were drooling over the football produced by Joe Mercer and Gordon Milne's team. The signings in October 1972 of Colin Stein and Tommy Hutchison sparked an unbeaten run of eight games and three FA Cup victories took them to the sixth round for the first time in 10 years. The Cup run ended at Molineux and City's subsequent form collapsed -they won only one of their last ten games and lost the last seven in a row. The seven included home defeats to Leeds, Derby and Liverpool and away reverses at Everton, Sheffield United, Chelsea and Wolves. The team finished 19th after being 10th before the Wolves Cup-tie. There was no rational explanation for the collapse by a very strong and experienced side that in addition to Stein & Hutchison contained Willie Carr, Dennis Mortimer, Chris Cattlin, Roy Barry, Mick Coop and Brian Alderson. Older fans remember that team with fondness and overlook that end of season collapse.
There are only two occasions in which City have lost more than seven consecutive league games. In the 1924-25 relegation season from Division Two they lost eight in a row between early November and early January including heavy away defeats at Hull (1-4), Derby (1-5) and South Shields (1-4). The record run however was set in 1919-20 when City lost their first nine games after joining the Football League Division Two. The run, which commenced with a 5-0 opening day home defeat to Tottenham was:
Aug 30 Tottenham (h) 0-5
Sept 3 Leeds City (a) 0-3
Sept 6 Tottenham (a) 1-4
Sept 11 Leeds City (h) 0-4
Sept 13 Birmingham (a) 1-4
Sept 20 Birmingham (h) 1-3
Sept 27 Leicester (a) 0-1
Oct 4 Leicester (h) 1-2
Oct 11 Fulham (h) 0-1
Manager Will Clayton was sacked after the loss at Filbert Street and secretary Harry Harbourne took over in a caretaker capacity with the board of directors selecting the team until 22nd November when new boss Harry Pollitt arrived.
One of the most interesting stats from Thursday night was given to me by fellow historian Geoff Moore. Amongst other things he tracks players who have appeared at the Ricoh and tells me that Blades' substitute Leon Clarke set a record by appearing for his seventh different club at the stadium. He first played against the Sky Blues for Wolves at Highfield Road in 2004 and scored in a 2-2 draw. His first appearance at the Ricoh was in 2006 for Wolves then in 2010 he played there for Sheffield Wednesday and the following season he was in QPR colours as a substitute. In November 2012 he scored twice for Scunthorpe before joining City in January 2013. Since leaving City he appeared for Bury in the 6-0 hammering last season and on Thursday night took his total to seven as a brief substitute. Clarke, now aged 31, has played for seventeen different clubs, a number of them in more than one spell and according to Geoff has played for ten of the current League One clubs.
Billy Sharp, who scored both Blades' goals in Thursday's game has now netted eight goals in nine games against the Sky Blues with four of them on live television. He netted in City's 0-4 defeat at Southampton in their final game in the Championship in 2012 and a header at Bramall Lane a year ago before Thursday's brace.