Ranking every big six club by their number of trophyless seasons since 2010

If you support one of the ‘big six’ clubs – Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham (okay, maybe not Spurs) – you’ll often go into a season with a well-founded optimism that it’ll end with a trophy or two.

The glory of lifting silverware is ultimately what football’s all about, and in recent times that top-level success has tended to be monopolised by a select few elite clubs.

Only Birmingham, Leicester, Swansea, West Ham and Wigan have won major silverware outside of the ‘big six’ since 2010.

But how do those clubs compare when it comes to shiny pots? Ending a season trophyless is always a disappointment and it happens more than you might think, even to the most well-resourced clubs. We’ve ranked the ‘big six’ by how many trophyless seasons (including 2023-24 if already settled).

Note: we’re not including the UEFA Super Cup and Community Shield for the purposes of this list, but we are including the Club World Cup.

6. Manchester City – 3

Manchester City ended the noughties in disappointing fashion, pipped to Champions League qualification by Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham. That 2009-10 campaign also ended up trophyless, having been beaten by rivals Manchester United in the semi-finals of the League Cup. That extended their wait for a major trophy to 34 years, stretching back to the 1974 League Cup.

But this was still the early days of the Sheikh Mansour era and there was a sense that it was a matter of when – not if – they’d become a serious force.

And sure enough that came to pass. City’s trophy drought ended in 2010-11, beating Manchester United en route to the FA Cup. The following year they toppled Sir Alex Ferguson’s serial winners in a thrilling Premier League title race.

A second Premier League title followed in 2013-14, as well as a couple of League Cups over the next five years, although it wasn’t until Pep Guardiola’s arrival that they became an all-conquering juggernaut.

Guardiola didn’t lift any silverware in his debut season but he’s delivered it in spades in the six years since; five Premier League titles, four League Cups, two FA Cups and one Champions League.

They’re still on for a domestic double this season. As journalist Miguel Delaney notes, if they win the Premier League and the FA Cup this season, they’ll have won 50% of all available silverware since the Catalan coach’s arrival.

No side in English football history – not prime Manchester United under Ferguson, nor peak 1980s Liverpool – has ever been so dominant.

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5. Chelsea – 6

Chelsea were infamously scattergun during the Roman Abramovich era, reeling through managers at a rate of knots and fluctuating between title-winning glory and some bizarrely dysfunctional campaigns.

Despite that, they consistently delivered silverware. Even in their bad years, they had a muscle memory and will to win that kicked on in the big occasions. They invariably tended to show up in finals. Didier Drogba was the embodiment of that.

In just five seasons of Abramovich’s 19-year reign did Chelsea go trophyless. They never went two years on the trot without a major trophy, which is something that happened immediately under Todd Boehly.

The Blues have come close to winning a whole lot more in recent years, having lost their last six Wembley finals in a row and confirming 2023-24 will be without silverware after losing to Manchester City in the FA Cup semis.

Somewhere along the way they’ve lost that winning mentality.

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4.  Manchester United – 8

The 2010s began in familiar fashion for United. Yet another Premier League title in 2010-11. Sergio Aguero’s last-ditch winner denied them silverware the following year, but Ferguson got his parting gift in 2012-13 by leading the Red Devils back to the top of the table.

It’s been 11 years since the legendary Scottish manager retired. Eleven years without a title, or even a challenge.

There have been some trophies since – the FA Cup under Louis Van Gaal in 2015-16, the Europa League and League Cup the following year under Jose Mourinho – but United as English football’s big dogs, once so commonplace, now feels a distant memory.

Erik ten Hag ended a six-year trophy drought by leading United to the League Cup in 2022-23.

The Dutchman has led the club to three of the four domestic cup finals in his two seasons at the club and has a chance to avenge last season’s FA Cup defeat to Man City with a rematch at Wembley.

But if United lose again to Guardiola’s City, this’ll be their ninth trophyless season since 2010. Something once unthinkable.

=2. Liverpool – 9

We’ve all become accustomed to watching the Reds compete for the biggest honours under Jurgen Klopp. It’s easy to forget now that they’d won just one major trophy in nine seasons before his appointment in 2015.

The 2011-12 League Cup, delivered by Sir Kenny Dalglish, had been the club’s last shiny pot prior to the Champions League in 2018-19.

It’s also easy to forget now that people questioned Klopp’s record in finals during his early years on Merseyside, with defeats in the League Cup, Europa League and Champions League finals prior to that victory over Tottenham at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Since then, Klopp’s Reds have won the Premier League title, as well as the FA Cup and two League Cups. They’ve reached another Champions League final, regularly gone toe-to-toe with Guardiola’s City and came agonisingly close to a historic quadruple in 2021-22.

Klopp’s final season will at least have a League Cup. Watch this space for whether there’s also another Premier League title. Whoever comes next has a near-impossible act to follow.

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=2. Arsenal – 9

It’s twenty years since the Gunners last won the league. It’s over thirty years since their last League Cup. The now-defunct Cup Winners’ Cup and Fairs Cup are their only European honours.

But they are the all-time most successful team in the history of the FA Cup, and the grand old competition has been their lifeblood since their move away from Highbury. Arsene Wenger has lifted it more often than any other coach, with a fifth, sixth and seventh delivered in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

The 2013-14 comeback victory over Hull ended a nine-year trophy drought, while the 2019-20 win over Chelsea kicked off Mikel Arteta’s managerial career in style. Arsenal have won each of their last six FA Cup final appearances, last losing one way back in 2001.

Arteta’s early cup triumph arguably bought him time, which he’s used to turn the Gunners into a serious force once again. But it’s nearly four years since Arsenal won anything, or reached a final, and if they don’t win the Premier League this season it’ll be a 10th trophyless campaign from the last 14.

1. Tottenham – 14

Oh, Spurs.

“I’ve got real pictures,” was Ange Postecoglou’s curt reply when asked by a journalist if he ever envisages himself with trophies.

“Quite a few. I just look at the ones I have got.”

Postecoglou has delivered silverware everywhere he’s been – from his native Australia to Japan to Scotland – but ending Spurs’ 17-year trophy drought might be his biggest challenge yet.

The club have made strides forward this season, but falling early in both cup competitions has been a bitter pill to swallow.