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Untypical Boro is a lively topical blog by the Evening Gazette's award winning football columnist Anthony Vickers that aims to get behind the headlines to flesh out the stories that Boro fans are talking about.

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Fixture Chaos: The Price of Success

Posted by on March 24, 2006 8:51 AM | 

BUBBLING BORO could set for not just three games but three semi-finals in eight days in what is shaping up to be a stength-sapping end of season fixture frenzy.

We are already set to finish this term playing a minimum of 60 gruelling games - and hopefully it could be as many as 65.

Even in the madness of the double Wembley heartbreak campaign of 1996-97 Robbo's Boro side only played 54. The big question is Where will we fit them all in?

If Boro get past Charlton and Basel it will be a crazy final five weeks. I've scribbling all the new cup dates on the Sports Gazette fixture less and even writing very carefully and very small it is all getting very messy.

Look at how it will shape up if Boro make progress in both cups:

30 - UEFA Cup Q-F v Basel (a)
1 - Man City (a)
6 - UEFA Cup Q-F v Basel (h)
8 - Newcastle (h)
12 - FA Cup Q-F (replay) v Charlton (h)
15 - Portsmouth (a)
17 - West Ham (h)
20 - UEFA Cup S-F (Bucharest) (a)
23 - FA Cup S-F (TBC)
27 - UEFA Cup S-F (Bucharest) (h)
29 - Everton (h)


7 - Fulham (a)
10 - UEFA Cup final (Eindhoven)
13 - FA Cup final (Cardiff)

That means Boro will play three games in seven days early in April (Basel - derby v Geordies - Charlton replay), three in six days over Easter (Charlton - Portsmouth- West Ham) and potentially three semi-final clashes in eight days (UEFA Cup v Bucharest (a) - FA Cup semi-final - Bucharest (h))

Progress in the FA Cup throws up another problem too. There is already a league game away at Bolton to reschedule and if Boro make to the FA Cup semi-final the league trip to Old Trafford on April 23 will be postponed too.

Those two games must be slotted in before the Premiership season ends (a week early because of the World Cup) on May 7th. That could mean both being played in the midweek before that, possibly on Tuesday 2nd and Thursday 4th.

It will put massive demands on the squad - and on the fans too. Demands on our morale, on our stamina and on our pockets.

Comments (4)

ian blyth wrote...

people do 12 hour shifts in factorys 5 days a week for £200 a week. boro players get paid to much let them erne it for a change.

Posted by: ian blyth  | March 24, 2006 10:23 PM

John Powls wrote...

Makes it all the more important that we secure 40 points as soon as possible in the Prem, then. Leave aside, of course, that we should have done it ages ago if The Tactical Genius hadn't started fielding weakened teams to add to his bizarre coaching, match tactics and substitutions way too early and getting us what he deserved for disrespect of the Prem and our opponents.

One thing that The Current Manager did say recently that I agreed with is that we should all stop moaning about fixture congestion. I know the World Cup plans have condensed things a little but they're congested because we've had some success in 2 cups and most teams would give their eye teeth for that. We were - if I remember the pre-season spin - building a squad to be able to do just this and if we have any ambition to stay where we are this is what we're going to have to get used to.

The Liverpool's and Chelsea's no longer have the Champs League to contend with but neither do they moan about number of games to be played and they don't rotate their core squad either. Look at Terry and Lampard for example. Leaving aside the skill level there is nothing about their physical conditioning that can't be achieved by Boro players. Recent ex-pros who I know have always said to me that no-one minds lots of games so long as you are winning and being successful - you want to play all the time - it's losing that saps the strength. Both of these elements also scotch the rotation and weakened side arguments. Playing twice a week also gets you out of the drudgery of training - a cycle of play, recover, do a little loosening and practice of tactics/set plays and then play again is very liked and you don't get to dwell on stuff too long either or have too much time on your hands. And true enough I don't hear any of our players complaining about tiredness or too many games; they've got the sniff of glory (to use your word from a recent posting) - leave that to 'psychologists' and coaches getting their un-necessary excuses in early!

So though I might have expressed it differently I agree with Ian - time to stand up and be counted.

Posted by: John Powls  | March 25, 2006 11:04 AM

John Green wrote...

You missed a game out! Don't forget we still have to play the postponed away game with Bolton!

Posted by: John Green  | March 25, 2006 11:06 PM

Rich Tyson wrote...

Getting beat by the Geordies in the manner which we did was very dissapointing, But hey that was their biggest game for the past 2 months, and to us although important when put into the bigger picture it was a blip. I cannot see how people do not think we have got a very good manager. And are on his back at the earliest opportunity stand back and have a look at what he's done we are expieriencing unknown ground and if our biggest worry is how can I afford to get to all the semi's or finals we ain't doing too bad.

Posted by: Rich Tyson  | April 10, 2006 12:29 PM

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