Leicester City have not won in 12 Premier League games and now appear doomed to be dropping back into the Championship next season.
The Foxes started their campaign promisingly, with draws against Everton and Arsenal, before wins against Stoke and Manchester United. However unexpected wins against sides like the Red Devils are not what relegation survival is built on – this comes by beating the sides around you.
The Foxes had a chance to demonstrate that they could do this during their recent run of fixtures, yet instead have shown nothing of the sort. Problems have mounted across defence and attack and developing into bigger issues, including a distrust between Nigel Pearson and the fans.
Leicester have now not won in over three calendar months, gaining just two draws, with the results against their rivals suggesting there is no hope left.
This horrific run has included surrendering a 2-0 lead to draw at home to Burnley, who at that point were winless, with this result coming just after losing 2-0 at Crystal Palace. Leicester have also lost at West Brom, Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers, results that are wholly unacceptable if you wish to stay up. Moreover the Foxes have shown a total lack of mental fortitude, taking the lead at both Villa and QPR before ultimately surrendering.
The Foxes’ terrible recent run has highlighted huge problems at both ends of the pitch. In defence excellent goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has received an embarrassingly poor level of protection. Moreover, Schmeichel is now out for a month due to injury – surely even the most optimistic fans would admit all hope is gone.
Paul Konchesky embodies their defensive problems, as theoretically he has Premier league and international experiences to offer. However he’s had frequent discipline problems and has been caught out of position countless times, caught pushing forward when defensive solidity is desperately needed. The Foxes have kept just two clean sheets all season, and things are not exactly improving – they have conceded 11 in their last five.
In attack things are little better – at one stage the Foxes fired blanks in six games from seven this. These were against Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Swansea, West Brom, Southampton, Sunderland. Not exactly the Premier League giants, instead the sort of teams against which Leicester need results to survive. However, their goal threat is almost solely dependent on £8million summer signing Leonardo Ulloa, who is scoreless in three months after a promising start. However, even if he regains his previous form, this alone will be far from enough.
Leicester are also doomed because of an inherent disunity between the manager and the fans, who widely appear to believe that Pearson is no longer the right man for the job. The Leicester boss was called arrogant by the chairman of a supporters group, after refusing to apologise for abusing a fan after a 3-1 loss to Liverpool. This led to a £10,000 fine and a one-game touchline ban, while his relationship with the fans appears beyond recovery.
Leicester compare particularly unfavourably when examined alongside the two other promoted teams, QPR and Burnley. The Foxes romped to the Championship title last season with 102 points, giving them significantly more time to plan for next season than either of their rivals. However, while Leicester have faded drastically after a promising start, the other two are gradually improving and adopting the Premier league life. Burnley have gained 11pts from their last seven games, while QPR have 16 from their last 10, both significantly above relegation form after slow starts.
Some say it is too early to condemn the Foxes season because two wins will take them outside of the drop zone. However given their problems in management, defence, attack, an inability to beat relegation rivals and being winless in three months, can you honestly see them actually winning two games anytime soon? Thought so.
The Foxes currently sit rock bottom with just 10 points from 17 games – at this rate they would gain just 22 points this season, an embarrassingly low figure. History shows that you need about 36 to have a realistic chance of survival. To reach this the Foxes would need to average 1.23 points per game from now on, nearly double their current average of 0.59. This appears a wholly unrealistic target given their current plight.
Though fans will inevitably call for mass and wild spending January transfer window in desperate hope of change, a pragmatic approach should be considered to protect the long-term health of the club. This involves accepting their impending fate and deciding whether Nigel Pearson is the right manager to bring an instant return to the Premier league. Whoever the manager will be, they must be given time, and parachute payments, to help the Foxes build towards a more promising future.