Home and away

I’m not in any position to criticise when Birmingham City’s players don’t work together like a well oiled machine, when crosses don’t reach strikers, shots don’t go in and defenders leave gaps for the opposition to exploit. I can’t even get my own mind in sync with my emotions.

When I consider the facts, I know that it would be foolish to expect too much of the team this season.  According to Colin Tattum,1 “since Premier League relegation in 2011, the turnover of players at Blues has reached 107. And of the 43 who have come in, just three have been cash signings – the rest frees, loans or on short-term deals.”  So I think my best plan is to concentrate on enjoying the positives rather than dwelling on the shortcomings, to appreciate the effort the players make and the moves that do work. However my mind doesn’t have full control over my emotions and our loss to Brighton left me feeling rather gloomy.

It wasn’t the loss that dispirited me; it was the atmosphere in the ground. When we lost to Watford in the first game of the season, the crowd kept right on supporting to the end of the game. The crowd at the Brighton game was smaller, 14,885, and the mood was more anxious. It felt as though a lot of people had the same thought as I did, “This season is going to be tough.”

Different supporters will find different ways to get through the season; some will stop going to games but I’m a season ticket holder and will keep going.  I will also try to get to some away games because away supporters usually go to support the team no matter what.  I can cope with losing and with poor performances but I find it really hard when our fans turn against the team.

I’ve been looking at the fixture list, thinking about away games and considering dates and distances. After the coach trip to Yeovil I’ve realised it’s possible to overlook some important factors. I had thought that a Saturday afternoon in summer was a great time to visit a ground with an uncovered terrace but that opinion was based on my total ignorance of the travel conditions.

Math symbolsI have only recently found out how fixture lists are compiled and why we have to go to Middlesbrough on a Tuesday night. When David Moyes criticised the PL fixture list, an FSF Tweet provided a link to an article2 that explains how it’s created.  It’s a good read and explains how computer science and human brains combine to arrange a whole season of fixtures for 92 clubs. One point I found interesting was how clubs and fans can have different views on the scheduling of games at Christmas. Fans would often prefer to play local rivals to keep the travel distance down but clubs’ commercial departments want to save their local derbies for dates when attendance is likely to be poor unless games are of special interest.  If you know enough about maths to understand the symbols above and are interested in the complexities of scheduling games at Christmas there’s an article3 you can read on that.

The Fixture Working Party has no control over games moved to suit TV schedules so even if they could devise a fixture list which made everyone happy it could still get messed up. TV companies don’t seem to care too much about the fans that go to games. They will probably end up ruining the product they are selling; fans at the ground help to create the atmosphere that adds excitement to the televised games. At times it seems that it’s only the supporters who care about the long term future of the beautiful game; TV companies and some owners are more interested in short term profits.

Thinking about the state of football in this country is enough to discourage anyone and there may come a time when I’ll feel like giving up.  But it won’t be this season.

  1. Analysis: Colin Tattum’s view of the new season
  2. All Tomorrow’s (Fixture Working) Parties
  3. Scheduling English football fixtures over holiday periods