For the final instalment of this mini-series, we’ve got one of my co-hosts from the podcast, Jimmy. If you don’t already, you can follow Jimmy on twitter here – @baysidepne.
Here are his thoughts on the season restart…
Squad rotation is going to be key. The manager won’t be able to rely on one XI when we have so many games in such a short period of time. We do only have a small squad so the whole squad will be utilised over the 33 day, 9 game period.
I suspect we might see Hunts play a couple of games as well and a few others who have been on the fringes like Tom Bayliss. Then there’s also the young lads like Ethan Walker and Adam O’Reilly who I would imagine will be on the bench at least and may even get some minutes, too.
I believe Ethan Walker got a considerable amount of game time in the two friendly games so maybe he’ll be in line for more than an appearance on the bench.
There will also be Billy Bodin and Ben Pearson all back from injury. Ben will undoubtedly have a key part to play in our final 9 games and having Billy back gives us another option out wide should the manager want to mix things up a bit.
In terms of set up, I think he will go with pace. It’s only my gut feeling but I don’t think he will use Nugent or Stockley unless we’re away from home. At home, I think he’ll try and ruin teams with pace.
As for home advantage, I’d take a look at Bundesliga 2 as opposed to the Bundesliga. I think there will be a lot of draws to start with and I think, to a certain extent, home advantage will still be there.
Teams won’t want to travel the length and breadth of the country, play a game, not stay in all their fancy hotels having chefs cooking the meals and whatnot, they won’t have their usual luxuries during a normal season. I know it might sound strange but a player’s normal routine prior to an away game will be ripped up even down to things like a team walk.
When Saturday comes, we have to start strong. For me, it’s all about momentum because the chasing pack will be hunting us down so it’s not just about us anymore. It kind of reminds me of League One when we just couldn’t shake MK Dons. I suppose this season, it’s been Bristol City.
They have been chasing us down the majority of the season but every time we drop points, so do they. But, all that has done is tighten up the pack behind them. If you look at Millwall, Cardiff, Rovers, Swansea, Derby and QPR they’re all closing the gap and we have to play both Cardiff and Derby at home.
The first 3 games we have in this restart are huge. First up we’ve got Luton away who are in the bottom three, then we’ve got two sides in the chasing pack in Cardiff at home and Derby at home in what will be our 5,000th league match. I think if we knacker up the first 3 games, we’re going to be behind the eight ball so to speak.
Ultimately, I think we’re going to need 18 points from the 9 games and I think we will just about make the top 6 so 6 wins from 9. However, typing it out like that, I don’t think we’ll get that but 74 points is the marker so it’s 2 points per game. How we get there, I’m not bothered but as long as we do, I’ll be happy.
The final thing, I’ve got to get a little mention of this week’s podcast in. We had Mark Lawrenson join us to look ahead to the season restart and it was brilliant. You can listen to the pod by pressing play below.