Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Bristol City: A tough start, or the best possible way to begin?
Following today's announcement of the fixtures for next season, City fans will be charting their hopes and aspirations for the 2013/14 season as they plan their route around the country. Stuart Radnedge follow up his preview article from last night with a view on what the fixtures may mean for the season ahead...
Well, the fixtures are out and the strong test I was hoping for has been realised. The opening game at home to last year's League Cup runners-up Bradford will certainly be a wake-up to life in League One, as will two trips in a few weeks to face Gillingham away – once in the cup, the other at the end of August, sandwiching trips to 'big' clubs, Coventry and Wolves.
Following the announcement a quick chat with my colleagues confirmed a 50/50 split as to whether playing a newly promoted side is a good or bad situation. Bradford, who clearly exceeded expectations last year in the cup, will arguably have momentum behind them after securing promotion from League Two comfortably with a 3–0 Wembley victory against Northampton. Alternatively, Ashton Gate, full of noise and expectation on the opening day, could lead to shrinking violet syndrome.
Gillingham, as highlighted in part one yesterday, will be a test and Wolves early on could be a blessing or a curse – depending on their and our adjustments to life in League One. And then there’s Coventry…
They're a team we have a fairly good record against at their place, but where will "their place" be – with the club having all sorts of issues in securing where home will be for the team.
The following month could provide us with the opportunity of securing a foothold in the league positions with three out of the four league matches that month being home encounters.
The same is enjoyed in November (3 home, 2 away) and December (3 home, 1 away) – a key time in the Christmas calendar preparation. We also have three games at home in April – at the business end of the season.
But this is only relevant if we can bring back the fortress mentality in BS3.
Reflecting on last season’s start, things were looking really good at home until the wheels fell off – which occurred soon after we beat two of the three teams that were eventually promoted. This emphasises my next point.
Both Palace and Cardiff gained promotion after arguably poor starts to the season. So how important are the first six games?
There’s no right or wrong answer really, as any wrongs can be undone later in the following seven-and-a-half months. But a bad start will heap the pressure on everyone.
If it’s a simple mathematics game, then nine months cover all but the final fixture against Crawley. Is nine points a month too much to ask for? We’d finish on 81 points which could be enough for a top two finish (Doncaster were promoted with 84, and Bournemouth 83 last year) and with some months containing 5 or more matches – we’d possibly secure more points than the 9 anyway.
There’s no way I’m going to write my predictions for wins & losses, but in this league I would be unhappy if at the end of the season we finished outside of the play-offs – let alone in the bottom half of the table.
But how easy is it to predict? Who has the answers?
We’ll all have our opinions of how things may pan out at 5pm on August 3rd – but we’ll be better informed at Christmas and definitive on May 3rd.
The Exiled Robin
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