The Championship Promotion Race: Leicester dropping like a stone, Brighton just getting stronger

April 2, 2013 in Championship

 After Monday’s results, I prefer not to look at the bottom half of the Championship table because it fills me with dread, so instead I’m going to concentrate today on two teams moving in opposite directions at the top end of the table. Leicester, for all their money spent, are dropping like the proverbial stone, and Brighton – pre-season playoff hopefuls – have snuck past them into the final playoff spot. After Monday’s results, Brighton have a game in hand over Leicester, and alarm bells are now probably ringing throughout the boardroom of the King Power Stadium, and the chairman’s finger is getting incredibly itchy.

Leicester are suffering not only from terrible form – they have won only one of their last 13 league games – but they also have the burden of having one of the largest wage bills in the league and having spent a good deal more than most on players. Around the turn of the year, Leicester looked odds on for automatic promotion, sitting 2nd and having just added Chris Wood to their forward line, people were lining up to lump vast sums of money on these sure fire winners. However, for whatever reason, it seems that Leicester have decided that promotion is just not for them this season. If they don’t go up then a few things will be certain: Nigel Pearson will get the sack, Anthony Knockaert will get a move away, and Leicester’s owners will re-hire Sven!

Brighton, on the other hand, seem to have got it all right. The new stadium, the bright young (although slightly confrontational) manager who keeps turning down other jobs, and the foreign imports that are working. David Lopez has knocked in seven goals from midfield (considering their top scorer has 11, that’s very good), and the signing of Jose Ulloa looks inspired; eight goals in 11 league games since a January move from Almeria has given the Seagulls a focal point up front and it looks like it’s working. This weekend, Brighton bagged a 2-2 draw with Forest, who had previously won five in a row. They play Charlton at home tonight, and should they win that, they will go 5th with a three-point gap to 7th.

Meanwhile, Leicester have lost their last three, including a turgid 1-0 home loss to Millwall on Friday night and a 2-0 defeat to relegation-threatened Barnsley on Monday. Reports on Monday night suggest various “meetings” may take place today to decide what the plan is for the next six games. The usual line of the manager “losing the dressing room” is starting to appear, but to be honest, when you have players of Leicester’s quality and you are seemingly paying them handsomely, they should be able to pull their finger out and play no matter who the manager is. Leicester need to halt this slide quickly if they want to try and sneak back into the top six. Brighton, on the other hand, look quite comfortable, although in this league, consistency looks to have abandoned most teams. I’m going to stick my neck out and say Brighton will finish in the top six and Leicester will miss out. Brighton’s team ethic is far outweighing Leicester’s “throw money at the problem” idea.