It’s time to re­think start of sea­son

The Football League Paper - - JOHN RUDDY -

HEMAY come across as a cheeky chap­pie, but QPR boss Ian Hol­loway is also a deep thinker about his foot­ball. And when he raises con­cerns about early sea­son fix­ture congestion (see story right), he’s worth lis­ten­ing to.

He be­lieves play­ers are at risk of in­jury in the open­ing weeks of the sea­son be­cause of the hec­tic Satur­day-Tues­day-Satur­day sched­ule, ex­ac­er­bated by Carabao Cup matches.

It was a major fac­tor in why he made nine changes from his start­ing line-up for last Tues­day’s first round tie against Northamp­ton Town. Other man­agers also made whole­sale changes to pro­tect their play­ers.

It may leave sup­port­ers feel­ing short-changed when they go to see a match and find they are watch­ing what is ef­fec­tively a re­serve side.

Hol­loway’s sug­ges­tion that the League Cup first round should be played a week be­fore the first league game of the sea­son has its mer­its.

In­stead of a friendly, a club could play a com­pet­i­tive game. And fans could also ben­e­fit as a man­ager would be more likely to put out a stronger team as a dress re­hearsal for their league opener a week later.

AFC Wim­ble­don man­ager Neal Ard­ley also raised con­cerns over there be­ing ex­tra-time in matches in the open­ing week of the sea­son. Again, it’s a valid point. But, as Hol­loway says, is there any­one lis­ten­ing?

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