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Should Man City be concerned by their European scheduling?

16 August 2011

City will play six away matches, including a trip to Chelsea, after their Champions League group stage games

Manchester City look set to compete on a number of fronts this season, not least in the league after a thoroughly professional display against Swansea in the opening round of matches.

After some unfortunate scheduling, however, it seems as though City are already short on the luck required to become a successful team; the Premier League fixture computer coughed up six away matches for Roberto Mancini’s team after each of their Champions League group stage games.

To make matters worse, they will face two title contenders and Liverpool as part of this ‘run’:

  • 17th September: Fulham v Man City
  • 1st October: Blackburn v Man City
  • 23rd October: Man United v Man City
  • 5th November: QPR v Man City
  • 27th November: Liverpool v Man City
  • 10th December: Chelsea v Man City

Only twice since the start of the 2003/04 season have English teams suffered a similar fate, both of whom went on to win only 2 of those 6 away matches. The table below lists all the teams by the number of away matches they played after Champions League group stage games (click to enlarge):

Whilst there is a (not immediately obvious) negative relationship between number of away games and win likelihood, this is perhaps to be expected; teams have always won at home more than away.

The answer as to whether playing away matches after Champions League group stage games is any more difficult than normal is beyond my resources and time at the moment, unfortunately.

That said, there’s no evidence to suggest playing more away matches after Champions League group stage games has any effect on a team’s final league position or points total. In this respect City have little to fear.

Credit must go to Roberto Mancini for not complaining (yet) about the scheduling; in the past Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho have all spoken out about a perceived unequal share of away matches. As this article shows, league scheduling is an issue that will never please everyone.

Ultimately, City can consider themselves unlucky for drawing six away matches when only five teams in the last eight seasons have played the majority of post-group stage matches away from home.

But with a strong squad and deep pockets, it shouldn’t be act as an excuse against a Premier League title challenge this season.

Should the Premier League help its clubs competing in Europe with favourable scheduling? And will Man City be able to cope with their unfortunate fixture list? Please give your thoughts below.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Marshall permalink
    16 August 2011 5:26 pm

    This reeks of fixture tampering, Ferguson is the only manager in PL history who has been able to influence the fixtures and this is far too coincidential (6 post-CL away games for City, 6 post-CL home games for United) to be natural.

    • 16 August 2011 5:41 pm

      I always struggle to buy into the conspiracy theories… unless of course you’re being tongue in cheek

  2. Often Partisan permalink
    26 August 2011 7:52 pm

    I hope it has no impact I really do as we have exact same problem as Man City with our Europa League ties! Games like Away at Reading and Notts Forest…then again our chances of promotion are screwed anyway…

    I don’t think it’s a conspiracy, it’s just that if you’re playing in the order Home Away Home Away etc then if the games are every other week they’ll fall on either your home week or your away week as it were. (they are every other in the Europa and I think it’s the same for CL right?)

    • 26 August 2011 7:56 pm

      That’s an argument I put to someone on Twitter, but he rightly said back that it doesn’t explain why some teams get a 50/50 split. I suppose it’s just down to scheduling, depending on a whole variety of things. But yes, Champions League games are fortnightly when you ignore international breaks.

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