5 of the greatest sporting dynasties and how they fell
With the New England Patriots seeing their 17-year NFL dynasty come to an end, we look at the downfall of some of sport's most-dominant teams.
New England Patriots | 2002 – 2019
Tom Brady may yet line up for a 21st season under Bill Belichick in September, but their domination of the NFL in the 21st century is over.
A 20-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Saturday dumped the Pats out of the playoffs in the Wild Card round for the first time since 2009, bringing to an end to the sport’s longest dynasty.
Since teaming up in 2000, Brady and Belichick have led the Patriots to six Super Bowl titles, nine AFC Championships, 16 AFC East division titles and the only unbeaten 16-game season in NFL history.
Some may refuse to believe this is the end of the Patriots dynasty after a 12-win season but, even if Brady does return after entering free agency in March, the signs of decline are too numerous to ignore.
The 42-year-old registered his lowest passer rating since 2008, his lowest pass completion percentage for since 2004 and his lowest touchdown tally since 2006.
Belichick, meanwhile, is losing his edge – he has been beaten five times in the past two seasons by coaches who have worked under him, with Titans honcho Mike Vrabel having won both of their most recent meetings.
The fear factor is gone, and with it, the Brady-Belichick era.
Australia cricket team | 1987 – 2007
When three legends retire within four months of each other, the end of an era is inevitable.
So, when Justin Langer, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne all ended their international careers between January and April 2007, Australia’s cricketing dynasty was at an end.
The Aussies had won three consecutive World Cups between 1999 and 2007 and eight consecutive Ashes series between 1989 and 2002, losing just 39 of their 215 Tests in the last 20 years.
The fall from the top was a big one for Australia: they went on to lose the next three Ashes series, including a first home defeat since 1986, with Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting joining the others in retirement.
They have since recovered, though, winning the 2015 World Cup on home soil while dominating three of the last four Ashes series.
The likelihood of this current side dominating like those that came before them is, however, unlikely.
Manchester United | 1992 – 2013
The retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson was always going to bring an end to Manchester United’s domination of English football.
Fergie won 38 major trophies in 27 years at Old Trafford, including 13 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues and five FA Cups.
The club had the right idea in allowing Ferguson to handpick his successor, but following on from the greatest manager of all-time was an impossible job for anyone, not just David Moyes.
The expectations of the board and the fans had been elevated to unrealistic levels by years of success, while Ferguson had left him an aging squad in need of an overhaul – Moyes, unsurprisingly, lasted just 10 months in the job.
Louis van Gaal or Jose Mourinho also tried and failed, although three major trophies between them has kept United’s trophy cabinet ticking over in the post-Fergie years.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the next man trying to continue Ferguson’s legacy – if he gets even a tenth of the way there, he will have done incredibly well.
Golden State Warriors | 2014 – 2019
Most sporting dynasties come to a natural end with retirements or departures, but the fall of the Golden State Warriors is a different story.
Having won three titles in four years, including back-to-back wins in 2017 and 2018, the Warriors looked on course for a three-peat last season before disaster struck.
Kevin Durant – one of the NBA’s greatest-ever players – limped off the court in Game 5 of the Finals, having only just returned from a calf injury.
Then, in Game 6, with the Warriors needing a win to stay alive, Klay Thompson – one of the dynasty’s key players – tore his ACL, putting him out of action until 2020.
Their eventual 4-2 loss to the Toronto Raptors saw Durant traded to the Brooklyn Nets, while Andre Iguodala – another integral member of the team – was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies.
With the Warriors currently sitting bottom of the Western Conference with a 9-28 record, it is safe to say the NBA’s latest dynasty is done.
Roger Federer | 2003 – 2009
After winning his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2003, Roger Federer won 14 of the next 25 majors on offer.
That haul included five straight Wimbledon titles between 2003 and 2007, and five straight US Open wins between 2004 and 2008.
His domination of men’s tennis began to unravel after he lost one of the greatest tennis matches of all-time – the 2008 Wimbledon final against Rafa Nadal.
Nadal had previously struggled away from clay, but his first Wimbledon win signalled a changing of the guard within the sport.
In the 10 years since 2009, Federer has won just five of the 40 Grand Slams played, with Nadal winning 13 and Novak Djokovic winning 15.
Federer still remains among the Grand Slam contenders, even at the age of 38, but his days of totally dominating men’s tennis are long gone.
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