Posted by Richard Whittall under The Story So Far on Jun 19, 2013
I feel like ever since the release of the filmed version of Nick Hornby’s memoir Fever Pitch (the one with with Colin Firth in 1997), the release of the season fixture lists in the summer has become a meta event, a reason to get excited for a season that’s still two months away from kick off. For some people (actual season ticket holders) it’s a time to make entries in google/normal calendars and plan weekend trips. For others, it’s a time to set aside a weekend to ensure that a vital top of the table clash is not missed. For the media, it’s a time to scan the dates for an obvious thread, one that almost always involves a series of difficult fixtures, and report back on the challenge this will pose to X team led by Y manager. Here for example is the verdict on David Moyes’ “trial by fire” at Man United:
David Moyes will come up against José Mourinho in the second game of the season when Chelsea visit Old Trafford for the new Manchester United manager’s first home game.
Before that, Moyes opens the 2013-14 campaign at the League Cup winners Swansea on 17 August and then after hosting Chelsea, United go to Liverpool on 31 August.
The champions then take on promoted Crystal Palace before making the short journey to the Etihad Stadium for the first Manchester derby against last year’s runners-up with their new manager Manuel Pellegrini. The return Manchester derby at Old Trafford is scheduled for March 21.
“Lively start to the season! Let us at them,” the United defender Rio Ferdinand tweeted.
Here is question I think there might be an objective answer to: does a high number of matches against equal or higher quality opponents in a short time frame within a particular part of the season (in this case the start) have an overall negative effect on a club’s final points total than if those matches were more spread out?
There is already some controversy over the relationship between volume of matches in a short time period and skill depreciation. Even so, I’m skeptical that a skilled team facing a number of equally skilled opponents in a short time frame would see an overall negative effect. Moreover, a “difficult stretch of games” implies there will be an “easier stretch of games” at some point in the season too, so any negative effects would theoretically be counterbalanced. Something to look into.
As for clubs actually doing dumb things to threaten their future well-being, Derek Llambas has resigned apparently in protest to Joe Kinnear’s appointment as director of football at Newcastle United. Despite Llambas’ missteps, he understood more than many other clubs the vital importance of increasing commercial revenue. His departure and Kinnear’s leadership could, arguably, have a far more profound effect than David Moyes’ so-called “trial by fire.”