Writer: Mike Field
Date:Tuesday May 12 2009
Well next season hasn't even started yet but it seems we are laying the seeds for prioritisation again.
Martin O'Neill has Europa issues, apparently 'those in charge' haven't paid enough attention and have failed to reduce the number of ties teams will have to play.
The obvious outcome of this failing will be that fixtures will become congested and the new shiny UEFA Cup replacement will become devalued by managers fielding weakened teams.
Hey hold on a minute, isn't that what we did!
Anyhoo O'Neill has argued that the review of last seasons competition gave Uefa the opportunity to reduce the number of matches required by simply removing the round of 32 stage.
However, Uefa instead decided to reduce the number of teams from five to four per group, but increase the fixtures by making it a home and away format.
Quoted in the Telegraph our manager said:
'There are too many games. One thing they could have done was that whoever comes out of the group stage would be in the last 16, like the Champions League. The last 32 is a round too many. I accept there are more teams and that there are teams that drop out of the Champions League and go into it, but you can devise a system that those teams that come out of the group should be in the final 16.
'It should have been redesigned with that in mind because you can see the problems teams in the Champions League have had. Manchester United, going all guns blazing for every single competition, go to a semi-final of an FA Cup and play a weakened side. United can possibly get away with that but there's fixture congestion at the most important time of the season. And that's the Champions League. So you can imagine what it's like with the extra Uefa Cup games.'
The new format means we will have to play an additional 17 games if we are to win the competition so next season, unless we spend all summer signing quality players, what will suffer?
Will it be domestic Cups again, Europe again?
God forbid we ever qualify for the Chumps League, that would probably be too many games aswell. What happens if O'Neill gets his way and Celtic and Rangers are allowed to join the Premiership - that could be four more matches we'd have to play.
Oh well at least we have a few more derby games next season to look forward to!
Failing that for you gamblers you should get decent odds on us from the bookies, if the media are starting to write us off before the season even begins maybe we can lower our expectations so much over the summer that finishing in the Top 6 would be like winning the World Cup?
I quote from the Telegraph:
'Unless O'Neill brings in a large number of new players this summer - something he is not expected to do - it seems unlikely that they will have the squad depth required to compete in both the Premier League and Europe next season.'
Date:Tuesday May 12 2009
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