Fans were warned by pundits and players that a Championship season is a marathon. Four matches in nine days to open a season feels more like a sprint from the starting gun. To put the schedule in context, the first four matches last year took place over a three week span. Don't check my work! That means you would have to look at the results again. Living through any part of 15/16 once was enough.
Crunching the numbers:
Last campaign was made up of 44 almost all terrible matches -- spanning from August 8, 2015 to May 15, 2016. Six were cup matches -- including one FA Cup replay against Wycombe. 292 days -- 6.41 days per match.
Being in the Championship means more matches in the league, an early round in the EFL Cup (formerly Capital One Cup and even more formerly the Carling Cup), all jammed into a timeline that is two weeks shorter, with the final match day being April 29. So 46 league matches plus the minimum two cup matches? That math works out to be 5.54 days per match. That number is only going to go down if/when any additional FA Cup matches are earned.
Almost a full a day less per match. Potential impacts are significant. In terms of form, good runs will be better and funks will lead to many exclamations of a similar four letter word (like the current situation). Injuries are more painful because a two week knock could mean three matches instead of just two. Fitness will be vital and judging by the last few years holiday periods, a place where improvement is needed. Preparation is impacted as well with less time to prepare for specific teams/players or try new tactics.
In a preseason interview with the club, Nathan Baker, a veteran of a Championship campaign, warned about the grind.
“It’s a long, long season and you need everyone pulling in the same direction... You have to be mentally strong too. There are so many matches. You play one and then there’s another one on the horizon. You have to be up for it every single day, whether in games or training sessions. There’s no let-up for anyone in the squad. It’s also about us ensuring the hangover doesn’t continue into the start of the season.
Is the hangover gone yet?