Reading the blog over the last week or two I have picked up on a few comments here or there about the rigours of having to play a lot more games with European competition, what it means to our league performance next season, how to handle the extra games, how it effects recruitment, youngsters etc, so I thought I’d give a few thoughts to hopefully start a bit of a discussion.
As it stands at the moment we are still unsure as to which competition we will qualify for let alone where we qualify from, although I believe we would only have to go through one qualifying stage for either Champions League or Europa League group qualification at least.
Ideally the club would rather know in advance that qualification was assured before spending on players and I would hope to see business conducted earlier in the summer rather than trying to bring in players after qualification. I’m not expecting massive expenditure, even if we were to make the Champions League group as I think the board would take the view that the windfall may be used towards wages of new players not just transfer fees. For example, if we earn an extra £30 million that one season, spending that on players may lumber us with another £30-60 million on wages over next 4-5 years.
I feel that with a few additions we should be able to cope with the extra games but we may lose a few points over the course of the season, we may find ourselves in a position where playing in the Europa League may condemn us to play in the Europa League again rather than kick on and reach Champions League.
Even the top teams seem to often drop off a bit after midweek European games, but I feel that sometimes it is used as more of an excuse more than anything. I’ve seen people say that Stoke are struggling as they have European games but they were middle of the table last year (finished 13th), they qualified as runners up in the FA Cup, and a decimated Birmingham City have still got themselves into the Championship play-offs, and that is with more league games aswell – so overall I feel there is no reason why it should automatically have a negative impact.
The second big question is, do we try and win a cup next year or use it as a chance to develop the youngsters? Personally I feel the right approach would be a balance between the two, rotate the team bit by playing two or three younger players a game in the cups and then maybe the strongest team should we progress onwards. We then have the chance to flick back to the first question to help ease the burden in the league aswell.
In regards to recruitment, I don’t see it making a big difference in terms of players targeted as it may be seen as a one off, but it may be easier to keep squad players happy, with perhaps a few players coming in to challenge in the first team and, by the sounds of it anyway, a few more youngsters to join our ranks and challenge in the future. I feel that would happen regardless of European football so maybe we’d see an extra player here or there or perhaps push a bit more for top targets.
Anyway that’s my opinion on the matter. It’ll be a while yet before we see how things pan out but here’s hoping it’s onwards and upwards!
Thanks to Alanthedog363for sending this in.