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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 March 2007, 09:36 GMT
Battle to beat Championship drop
By Charlie Henderson

Former Coventry manager Micky Adams
Micky Adams was Coventry manager for 99 games from January 2005 to January 2007 and was at the helm of Leicester in the second tier before that

The race to avoid relegation from the Championship is hotting up with as few as eight games to go until the season ends on Sunday 6 May.

Seven points separate seven teams vying to pull away from the trap door to League One.

And the bottom four are within four points of each other, with three teams set to go down.

Taking the last eight, nine or 10 games, if teams mirror that form through to the end of the season the present bottom three of Leeds, Luton and QPR are doomed, with the latter just missing out on goal difference to Burnley on 44 points.

But former Coventry boss Micky Adams believes the survival mark will be much nearer the division's traditional benchmark of 52 points.

"The clubs at the bottom have to be looking for more than 50 points," he told BBC Sport.

"That means some of them are going to have to find five wins from somewhere in eight matches, and when you consider that some haven't even won 10 games out of 38 it's difficult to see where those wins are going to come from."

Wins are imperative and for Adams, who had been pounding the Championship beat with Coventry for two years up until this January, the means to that end is experience.

Charlie Henderson

"If they can win games against those around them all the better and teams with bigger squads and experience are the ones more likely to get out of it," he added.

"There are some teams we expected to be down there at the beginning of the season through lack of resources and experience, but then there are also some surprises down there like Leeds.

"But I look at Leeds and I really think they can get out of this situation. They have experience on the pitch and in Dennis Wise, who took Millwall to an FA Cup final.

"Any manager who does that has got a good pedigree."

Leeds have been bottom since mid-January, but if they are going to climb clear, who is going to take their place in the bottom three?

BBC Sport asked Adams, who describes himself as one of football's 'fire-fighters', to run the rule over the clubs in peril at the wrong end of the Championship.


Leeds United
Position: 24th
Record: P38; W10; D5; L23; F38; A63; Pts 35
Still to play: Southend (a); Preston (h); Plymouth (h); Colchester (a); Burnley (h); Southampton (a); Ipswich (h); Derby (a).

They've got strong characters, people who have experienced the good times and not just the bad at the club, and they need to stand up and be counted.

Leeds haven't scored enough goals, but if you take the last two games in isolation it has been a good return and that sort of form would be enough for them to escape.

The interest and hype can make it very, very hard for the players to perform and the crowd at Elland Road can go one of two ways; if they see their team giving 150% they will be supportive, otherwise they can be quite unforgiving.

But I think they understand the problems Dennis Wise has had, know he won't be giving up and are now backing their boys to the hilt.

Did you know? Leeds still have six players on their books who were in the Championship play-off final last season and four of them played in the draw at Leicester last time out.


Luton Town
Position: 23rd
Record: P38; W9; D9; L20; F47; A65; Pts 36
Still to play: Ipswich (h); Burnley (a); Southampton (h); QPR (a); Plymouth (h); Derby (a); Southend (a); Sunderland (h).

They are in the worst form of any of the teams down at the bottom and their present run must be very depressing for all concerned.

Rowan Vine, Steve Howard, Carlos Edwards and Kevin Nicholls were the nucleus of the side that played well last season, but now they've all gone it highlights the dangers of letting your best players go.

Look at the goals against figure. It is joint-worst in the division with Barnsley and it is clear where their problems are, but there is no easy quick fix.

Opportunities in the loan market are not as available as before as Premiership clubs want to keep their squads together more these days so you're left with scoring more goals - which is easier said than done!

Did you know? Rowan Vine (14) and Carlos Edwards (six) are still the club's leading two scorers despite leaving Kenilworth Road more than two months ago.


Queens Park Rangers
Position: 22nd
Record: P37; W9; D10; L18; F42; A58; Pts 37
Still to play: Leicester (a); West Brom (h); Preston (h); Coventry (a); Luton (h); Sunderland (a); Cardiff (h); Wolves (a); Stoke (h).

Manager John Gregory has addressed the fact they were leaking goals and Danny Cullip and goalkeeper Lee Camp have looked good since coming in.

Conceding a late goal at Derby to draw is a blow, but they cannot afford to look at it like that.

They still got a point away to a very good side, gave a good account of themselves and they must have gone into it thinking that if they got anything they would be pleased. It could yet be a turning point.

However, on the flipside is that run-in. Just look at the clubs they've yet to play, and their game in hand is against Preston. Five matches are at home, but it is the hardest of the lot and you have to fear for them.

Did you know? QPR have lost only one of their last seven games at home.


Southend United
Position: 21st
Record: P38; W9; D11; L18; F39; A58; Pts 38
Still to play: Leeds (h); Hull (a); Colchester (h); Preston (a); Barnsley (h); Plymouth (a); Luton (h); Southampton (a).

Beating Burnley on Tuesday was a big result for them as they climbed out of the relegation places, but it is the next game against Leeds that is the key match.

Win and they make it three victories in a row as well as opening up a six-point gap on Leeds, which can give them the confidence to go on and avoid relegation.

It is one of three games against fellow relegation candidates at home, Roots Hall is never an easy place to go and picking up wins at home is the target for Steve Tilson's squad.

I can see them pulling out of trouble and the thing I like about them is that they have got players who can turn games - Freddy Eastwood and Jamal Campbell-Ryce on the right-wing can do bits of individual magic.

Did you know? Southend were in the relegation zone from 31 October until 13 March.


Position: 20th
Record: P38; W12; D5; L21; F44; A65; Pts 41
Still to play: Coventry (a); Derby (h); Ipswich (a); Birmingham (h); Southend (a); Crystal Palace (h); Leicester (h); West Brom (a).

They came from behind to beat Plymouth which is a big thing as they don't draw too many - only five all season - so they either get beat or win which is strange, and can be dangerous.

When you're a team that doesn't draw the mentality can be 'we've conceded and it looks like we're going to lose another game', but if you keep going to the end you can nick points here and there that can be vital.

They have a number of games against teams in mid-table, but managers and boards will be demanding a strong finish and there are no gimmes in the Championship.

They've done well until now, those new Hungarian players look fresh and eager and they've got to believe they can stay up, but if they finish in the bottom three nobody would be surprised.

Did you know? The win at Plymouth was the first time since November they have picked up three points having conceded a goal.


Hull City
Position: 19th
Record: P38; W11; D8; L19; F41; A56; Pts 41
Still to play: Sunderland (a); Southend (h); Norwich (h); Wolves (a), Colchester (h); Stoke (a); Cardiff (a); Plymouth (h).

Manager Phil Brown has steadied the ship after a poor start.

Back-to-back wins will have done their confidence the world of good, especially picking up three points at Luton as away form has been their Achilles heel this season.

Matches at this stage of the season are readily called 'must-win' games, but they are nothing of the sort for the likes of Ray Parlour.

For him, a European final or an FA Cup final is a 'must-win' game - he has been there, seen it and done it and his experience, along with the likes of Dean Windass and Nick Barmby, will be vital in keeping their run of form going.

Did you know? This is the highest Hull have been in the table all season. All the other six clubs in the mire have at least enjoyed a more exalted status in the division at sometime or other during the campaign.


Position: 18th
Record: P36; W10; D11; L15; F36; A39; Pts 41
Still to play: Preston (a); Luton (h); Plymouth (h); Birmingham (a); Cardiff (h); Leeds (a); Norwich (h); West Brom (h), Sunderland (a); Coventry (h).

Steve Cotterill has obviously got a board of directors who think he's the man for the job. I went eight games without a win and got the sack this season, but he's on 17 and counting!

With the standard of players they've got it is surprising they are down there and it just goes to show that results dictate confidence, and if the confidence is not there runs like this can happen to anybody.

The one thing you can say is that they are due a win, and with Andy Gray now fit alongside Ade Akinbiyi you'd expect the goals to come to boost that goals for column.

A bit of luck somewhere could earn three points which will immediately lift the mood, and if they win their two games in hand they will be flying up the table.

Did you know? Burnley, who were top after the first day of the season, have scored just eight goals in those 17 games they have failed to win.

Plymouth 2-4 Barnsley
14 Mar 07 |  Championship
Derby 1-1 QPR
13 Mar 07 |  Championship
Leicester 1-1 Leeds
13 Mar 07 |  Championship
Luton 1-2 Hull
13 Mar 07 |  Championship
Southend 1-0 Burnley
13 Mar 07 |  Championship
Adams sacked as Coventry manager
17 Jan 07 |  Coventry City


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