Often Partisan

Tired and Weary – is the amount of games a valid excuse?

It’s something we’ve been hearing all season – Blues are tired out because of the amount of games they have played. I wondered if this was a fact or fallacy; have Blues played a significant amount of games more than other teams? And if so, is it possible that tiredness is the factor people are making it out to be.

To do this properly, I went through the season records for each of the top twelve teams in the Championship, working out how many games that they had each played, and importantly, how many players that they had used. I think the results speak for themselves.

Unsurprisingly, Blues have played more games than anyone else in the top half of the Championship – Leicester being their 49th. However, they haven’t played that many more than many other teams – Cardiff have played 45 (five of which went into extra time at least) and three clubs have played 43 (Southampton, Leicester City and Crystal Palace). All bar three teams have played at least forty (Reading and Hull have played 38 apiece, West Ham only 37), and thus it could be argued that barring the odd exception, Blues have played 110 percent of the games of most clubs in the top half, with that figure climbing to 130 percent over teams like West Ham – which is a significant percentage above when put into those terms.

However, the stat that I think brings things into stark comparison is that barring Reading, Blues have used fewer players than any other team in the top half of the division – only 29. If you bear in mind that four of those players (Asante, Reilly, Gnahoré and Jerome) have only made brief appearances (ie less than 15 minutes off the bench), then Blues have pretty much played just shy of 50 games rotating only 25 players. Compare that to Reading, who have played 11 fewer games than Blues and suddenly the argument of players being tired comes into focus somewhat. If you discount Hull (30), the rest of the top half of the division have used at least 32, and five have used 35 or more – including West Ham who have used 36 players in their 37 games.

Whilst I accept that footballers are professional athletes and as such are fit, and should be capable of playing twice a week the fact is injuries occur more as the season wears on and players have to play on through niggles. We only have to look back to last season to see where playing players that weren’t 100 per cent got the club as Blues went on that horrible sequence of results in March and April. Mental tiredness also sets in as players are slowly drained by the demands of an exhausting season that could yet reach 63 games if we got to the playoff final.

With things so tightly balanced at the moment, the real test of Hughton’s managerial skills is here; somehow he’s got to coax a weary side to rise back to their January performance levels and ensure that they finish in the playoff places at least. Injuries (particularly at full back) have taken their toll somewhat and Hughton has to make the big calls as to who to bring in to fill in for unfit and suspended players and who he can call to his bench to potentially change games – all the while being unable to bring in anyone else bar from the academy. I think he can do it but we shall have to wait and see.

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17 Responses to “Tired and Weary – is the amount of games a valid excuse?”

  • Warley Blue says:

    Good article – and it was a big surprise to see just how few players we have used in comparison to most other teams. It makes sense of the recent results, so let’s just hope that the likes of Murphy are back in contention very soon, as we’re missing him sorely.

  • andy says:

    Ben Foster was recently quoted as saying that Blues relegation from the prem was down to fatigue following the Carling Cup Final. Mark Lawrenson also stated that the team looked tired and worn out as Blues battled to stay up. Arsenal also suffered following the Final, not as much as Blues but they suffered. I dont buy in to the tiredness thing though, not when you look at athletes like tennis players. Blues relegation was due in part to the injuries suffered by Zigic and Obafemi Martins, had they stayed fit Blues would have survived. Winning a major trophy and qualifying for Europe comes at a price, more games. The club has to deal with that by producing a bigger squad but Blues didnt have that scope because of the financial problems. If for example, Marlon King was tired then play Jarvis in his place, there is no room for tiredness or passenger carrying and to be fair to the players, noone seems to be complaining of tiredness, they want to play. Its time to sort our form out because it has become poor and a win is vital against Boro on sat.

  • RichardW says:

    Fine article. I actually think we have been fortunate with injuries and suspensions up to now and, particularly in defence, our inability to field a settled core team has led to recent poor form. For professionals tiredness can be mitigated by good results or playing expansive football. Macleish’s negative style quickly wore down his players after the euphoria of the cup win.

  • tom hill says:

    i always knew with the squad size and CH rotation there was gonna come a point we wud struggle, carson yeungs inability 2 sort out his financial mess and consequently bring blues into his money meltdown has seriously dented blues buying, loaning and bosman capabilities and has limited the quality, strengths and fitness levels of the players CH has inevitably brought in, that being said what he has achieved this season with the constraints placed upon him has been nothing but remarkable in my eyes, just failing 2 qualify out of the europa groups mins away from dumping chelsea out of the cup and at one point 3rd pushing 2nd spot has been a miracle seein as most pundits put us as a cert 4 the drop again with our bosman free loan signing squad. fitness is an issue i agree but as andy rightly said as athletes 2 games a wk shud not b a prob really in the current climate of the super fit football player as opposed 2 the games and players of yester year where they wud work a 5 day wk train and play 2 games a week just 2 put food on the table. a win sat and all this fitness chatter will b forgotten and we can then look up the table again and all look 2 get our wembley tickets again, KRO

  • quokkasskip says:

    great article. Our team is knackered. Caldwell, Ndaw, Fahey, King, Spector and Zigic have all been playing with injuries over the last few weeks and therefore their performance has dropped. IF you have half a team carrying injuries it will and is making a difference. No money = no depth of quality

  • Wingman Blue says:

    Another great article. Facts speak for themselves. Considering everything, CH has done a fantastic job to get us where we are. To lose by two goals to a resurgent Chelsea who can fire twice that past Napoli shows we’re punching way above our weight. One day at a time, I think.

  • NooBloo says:

    All teams have a dip in results, somewhere in a season and this is Birmingham’s. Performances where points have been dropped recently have not been that bad. Indeed we have played worse and won during the season.

    The run in to the season is a decent one, so I think there will be more games won than lost or drawn.

    So in response, to the ”Is it tiredness question” I dont think so. it is just the law of averages that you will lose when you should have won and win when you should perhaps have lost.

    As for the thread where it refers to Mark Lawrenson suggesting we wre tired last year.

    Lawro cant really talk because he puts me to sleep just watching him on TV

  • Sheldon man says:

    Interesting article, but I agree with one of the earlier comments about having a settled defence. I seem to remember when we had the good run in December and January, that the back four was pretty much constant. The last few weeks has been a constant juggling act which must have a big effect in terms of defensive partnerships. I also think we have stopped playing the passing game like we did and the ball is not being held up front, with the result that the ball keeps coming back and putting the defence under constant pressure. Marlon King is one of the worst culprits as most of the time his control and laying off is shocking, although then he will have a blinding 10 minutes and perhaps score a goal or two – frustrating. The only other thing I would point out is the cursed manager of the month. CH has won it twice and both times we have had bad runs afterwards,

  • Blueboy88 says:

    I would not say tiredness but the carrying of injuries is the problem..
    Supporters will never know the true extent of this problem for the obvious reasons..

    But by example both Zigic & King have spent fair spells away injured & then been pushed back into action, & to be fair it takes time to recover that match sharpness again.

    Carr & Murphy are hopefully due back shortly, but the same problem will surface getting them match fit.,

  • roskoe says:

    Good article Almajir, I think mental fatigue is going to be the big difference for us in the run in. This will mean we will probably make more mistakes which will cost us goals conceded, will mean we miss some of the chances we will have to score and there may be more sendings off and yellow cards due to poorly timed/judged tackles, all of which will make our promotion target harder to achieve. Stevie Blue did make a good point to say the team are in a similar position to what they were in August, what with the new faces and the loss of JB and LR, his point being that given a bit more time to adjust then we should be ok. Time will tell though, either way lets keep right on til the end of the season, and hopefully we will see our depleted team do us proud once more.


  • AR says:

    Is there any news on when Carr may be back? We have certainly missed his attacking ability as well as his defensive qualities.

  • bluenose08 says:

    Players maybe tired and carrying injuries so if we want the team to make the play offs its up to the fans to give their vocal support and urge the team to the finishing line.
    I have completed 29 marathons and in the last 6 miles when the going gets tough i start singing k.r.o.to myself and it gives me a lift so i am sure it lifts the players. k.r.o.

  • DoctorD says:

    I remember the 2002-3 season when Dugarry joined us in the new year — he really electrified the team and pulled us away from that’s year relegation zone. It’s as if we need someone with sparkle to lift the team. For a while it looks like it was Redmond but he’s only a lad and I fear, as almajir says, the team’s knackered and low on confidence and luck.

    Like all teams, we’ve had elements of luck and bad luck this year. I just want someone’s dodgy bobble to go in and I think we’ll be off again.

  • jazzzy786 says:

    Injuries are the problem. While our first 13/14 players are a match for anyone the quality drops significantly after that. Is it a coincidence that about the same time in the season in the last two seasons we are struggling. Not sure about the tiredness excuse as players spend large periods of the game walking. Two games a week should not be beyond the super fit athletes of today.

  • Bluenosejohn says:

    The reason given from fans for two matches a week not being perceived as a problem for professional footballers is that you cut down on training and the players should be fit anyway. That is fine providing you have a settled side playing well and getting results but the problems start if things are going badly and/or you bring new players in ( our recent run coincided with new players coming into our squad ). Having less time outside of match situations means that if you have problems then your time to work on problems or assimilating players is cut down considerably with a busy schedule.

  • Stevie Blue says:

    I feel the “being tired” or “too many games” line is becoming a cliche in the modern game. Fabio Capello trotted it out after England’s poor showing at the last world cup. Playing a lot of games is a sign of success, nothing more, nothing less. The great Liverpool teams of the 1980’s would often play 60+ games per season. I don’t remember constant bleatings of tiredness then. More recently Graham Alexander played 61 games for Burnley in 2008-09…at the age of 37! In short tiredness is a very individual thing depending on many variables such as position, body type and an individuals specific body make up. To make generally comments about tiredness across the board to me have no grounding. If we’re more tired than other teams due solely to games played surely we’d be lower down the league? If players such as King and Zigic are being rushed back too soon from injury this is a management issue. Surely trust must be placed in other members of the squad? As I said in a previous thread it’s a difficult stage of the season to bring in newcomers and this process takes time. There are still more than enough games left for things to be turned around.

  • […] be a failure, especially considering some of the runs Blues have put together. Blues have used fewer players than nearly every team around them, have played more games than every other team around them, and […]

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