How is it possible to juggle the temptations of Europe and the responsibilities of the Premier League?
I know that the pundits I see on the BBC every week often highlight correctly, the trend (involving teams like Fulham and Newcastle) of teams performing quite well in midweek fixtures in the UEFA Champions League or in the Europa League - possibly even getting the result they wanted - only to return to domestic fixtures that same weekend, performing as though they had only just met, and achieving disappointing results.
They, along with the teams, have highlighted the schedule as an excuse, saying that it is a drain on the players' stamina.
Now, as expressed in my little bio, I am as passionate about business as well as football. Without embarking on a totally different tangent, business today is tough. And it's all very well to moan about the fixture list, but then you have to go and do something about it.
This feeling was enhanced when I heard Alan Pardew's comments after his team's 2-0 away defeat to Chelsea (following a 1-0 victory at home to Atromitos), regarding the fact that his team had to play 2 matches against tough opposition in the space of less than 48 hours.
Now, don't get me wrong, you should be congratulating yourselves if you do go to Stamford Bridge and get a result, but it's not to say that it can't be done. Look at this same fixture last season. You'll all remember the wonder goal from Papis Cisse, the way the ball left his boot, the way you were on your feet pretty much the instant it went over Petr Cech's head.
So, the question is, what needs to be done in order to ensure that you can apply the same performance, determination and drive that was visible in your midweek fixture, into your weekend one?
Well, here's my view:
Firstly, I wopuldn't expect anything in the European competition. After all, you focus on the domestic competition, and finish high, then you have antoher placei n Europe, so you have antoher shot. You will be disappointed if you try so hard in Europe, but don't win, and on top of that, you haven't got the position in your home league to get another place in Europe for next seaason. Makes logical sense right?
And that will lead to a domino effect, in terms of players with high expectations refusing new contracts, filling in transfer requests, inevitably putting pressure on you as a manager to deliver results. All of a sudden, you could find the road running out, and time running out.
On the positive side though, with consistent performances and impressive table readings, new and talented personnel will be attracted to the club, and so you can progress in Europe by putting those players out, knowing that you have other players with abilites that can gain the club another Europe spot in the table, delivering a good performance on the Saturday. The domino effect for this is positive, and you can then establoish yourself as a top four club, if not a competitor.
Good for us watching the footy as well. I mean, I don't want the Manchester clubs to be running away with it all the time!