Sunday, 1 June 2014

Is the Championship the hardest league to recover from?

AFCB's players will have taken part in 46 league games, two FA Cup matches and two League games last season at my reckoning and I am not even adding in International duties for one or two. They will have just three months to recover before they do all that again and hopefully more, if they are play-off bound or have a great cup round next season. There was much discussion about whether the team was tired towards the end of the season having put so much into it. I expect that the physios will have had a careful look at how strong the players were in those final games to see if some changes to the training can be made before next season if it leads to an advantage. 
An exhausting first season back in the Championship.
It is surely a fine balance to be either 100 per cent fit or just below par when you are an athlete that is pushed as hard as they can be every week in pressure situations like the Championship. But it's not just the physical demands and number of games, it's the knocks, bumps and bruises. Sometimes it is hard to appreciate why players are just looking a bit off form when they were great last week, but a gruelling season takes it out of players.

Last year AFCB had their problems with Matt Ritchie's late start, Coulibally's recurrent injuries and Charlie Daniels, Elliot Ward and even Steve Cook missing out on several games. Yet, the Cherries perhaps got off lightly compared to some teams like Forest at the end of the season. In August though it seemed that our players were getting injured all the time and may be the Championship was just another level up in terms of physicality. But the Cherries got stronger and competed really well. Whether the Championship is any harder than League One or Two in terms of what it takes out of players is perhaps hard to quantify, but I certainly felt that the intensity of the games was much higher last season than I had seen before at Dean Court. 

If that was the case then I hope the summer for AFCB players gives them plenty of time to recover and recharge their batteries. With AFCB having used 32 players last season that is more than would be allowed in the Premiership, where 25 players is the limit for the 38 league games. I somehow suspect that the medical resources at the top Premiership clubs is a little different to most clubs in the Championship. However, even on that scale AFCB seem to have been making strides with their Italian outpost.

Let's hope for a season with few injuries. Battling away in the Championship is as hard as any league and keeping AFCB's players fit is a full time job.

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