Alex Narey – Editor
I HAVE argued for a long time that there is too much football played in August, and so it was no surprise to see that clubs in the National League will have to front up in no fewer than seven league games in the space of just 21 days next month.
I just don’t get it. Sure, the sun is out and the evening night burns bright, but come the end of September there will have been 13 rounds of matches played, way more than a quarter of the season’s allocation.
It’s little wonder players are knackered by Christmas and, more importantly, attendances down with fans unable to meet the financial demands that come with following their team.
It used to be the Festive period that defined many a club’s season; those four games spread over eight frenzied days.
But with so many fixtures in August, clubs with serious aspirations know that a fast start is the bare minimum.
Even though we saw Tranmere lose their way after firing out of the blocks last summer, the five wins on the bounce they enjoyed gave them the ideal platform.
Indeed, the National League’s table at the end of last August featured four of the teams that would occupy the play-offs spots come the season’s end. Only Aldershot, sitting in seventh, would break into the top five.
Looking at this term’s early clashes, and focusing again on Tranmere, manager Micky Mellon must have been having a cheeky smile to himself on Wednesday when he first cast an eye over what was in front of him.
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Of those seven fixtures his side face in August, his most testing could well come on the opening day with a visit to Torquay who, despite completing their own National League rescue job on the final day of last season, will be a tough nut to crack at Plainmoor.
But if Mellon can get his men over that hurdle, home games against Woking, Sutton and Boreham Wood should be negotiated, while away trips to Guiseley, Eastleigh and Solihull remain tough on paper, but are eminently winnable.
I’m saying 17 points from a possible 21. Rovers fans, would you take that?