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Athletic's shaky start harks back to 2005-2007 "black biennium"

The Basque side, who have never been relegated, occupy 15th place in the table after losing six of their opening 11 Liga fixtures

Ziganda cabizbajo.

Athletic Bilbao’s 11 points from their opening 11 Liga fixtures represent the fourth-worst start the Basque side have got off to in a season since the Spanish league’s current system was introduced in 1995-96.

The Lions, currently 15th in the table, have only mustered fewer points at the same stage of a campaign on three occasions, twice consecutively in what became known as the “black biennium” in 2005-06 and 2006-07, when Athletic had seven points and eight points respectively after 11 games. The third came in 2008-09 when Joaquín Caparros was in the dugout at San Mamés and the Basques had earned nine points after 11 fixtures.

Athletic in the mire again

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In 2005-06, current Eibar boss José Luis Mendilibar was in the hot seat until week 10 of Liga action, when he was replaced by Javier Clemente with the side bottom of the division. Athletic, who along with Real Madrid and Barcelona are one of only three Spanish clubs never to have been relegated from the top tier, secured their survival in the penultimate round of fixtures with a 2-1 victory against Depor in Riazor.

The following season, Félix Sarriugarte was in charge when the Liga kicked off but he only lasted until the 12th week of the campaign when he was replaced by José Manuel Esnal 'Mané'. Athletic again escaped relegation, on that occasion on the final day of the season courtesy of a 2-0 victory over Levante at San Mamés.

Under Caparrós in 2008-09, Athletic secured their Primera status with four weeks to spare by beating Betis in La Catedral, four days before contesting the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona in Mestalla, which they lost 4-1 despite taking an 8th-minute lead through Gaizka Toquero.


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