Iwan Roberts: Selection is a juggling act for managers
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I see managers and head coaches this season already frequently making quite a few changes to their starting XI, and I can totally understand it.
I’ve always been a big believer that you should never change a winning team, unless if you have injuries or suspensions. But with games coming thick and fast, and the intensity that players play with nowadays, managers simply have to juggle their pack otherwise the physio room will be overflowing with players.
Daniel Farke has some injury concerns for Saturday’s game at Bristol City – Todd Cantwell, who came off at half-time at Brentford on Tuesday, and Emi Buendia, who looked to have a hamstring problem in the dying minutes of that game.
With games having been crammed into nine months this season, teams will pick up more injuries than they would in any normal season, so the managers with the strongest squads and the most depth have the best chances of a successful season.
I have some sympathy for all players in the top four divisions and in the non-league system, as this season, physically, is going to be more demanding than any other they’ve encountered.
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From Championship down to League Two it’s always been a challenge playing 46 games, and that’s without mentioning cup competitions and pre-season.
I played for over 20 years in these divisions and loved every second of it, but it could be physically tough. For the first few months I felt great, I never wanted to be left out of the team for a rest. I hated being injured and I was lucky in that respect as I didn’t miss too many games through injury. But come the months of March, April and May I was out on my feet and the end of the season couldn’t come soon enough.
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It’s an early start for Norwich at Ashton Gate in a game that, looking at the form guide, they should be the favourites to win. After winning their opening four games, Bristol City have now failed to win in any of their last four and have scored just the one goal in their last three games. I didn’t mind early kick-offs, even though you were up far earlier than you normally would be for a normal game.
You didn’t have to much time to waste hanging around, you were literally up, had some pre-match food – a couple of slices of toast in my case as I could never eat first thing in the morning – and by then it was time to get your suit on and make your way to the ground to play the game.
Norwich couldn’t quite muster their fourth consecutive league win at Brentford’s Community Stadium – something they’ve not done since their Championship winning season back in April, 2019.
I watched the game and thought it was a good contest between two good footballing sides, and a draw was probably a fair result as neither side had quite done enough to win the game.
Knowing Thomas Frank, who likes a moan every now and then, he probably would have said his side deserved all three points, having seen Tim Krul produce two top class saves, one in the first half from an Ivan Toney header, and another in the second half when he produced an unbelievable save to thwart Henrik Dalsgaard.
However, Norwich were just as guilty of missing chances, with Buendia and Grant Hanley the offenders.
Buendia, who scored his first ever goal for Norwich against Brentford back in October 2018, missed a glorious chance after a delightful run. Mind you, how David Raya got his fingertips to the Argentinian’s fiercely-struck strike from six yards out to push the ball over the bar only he could tell you. I was just expecting to see the net bulge.
Hanley really should have levelled the score towards the end of the first half when he headed wide of Raya’s right-hand post when all he had to do was guide his powerful header towards goal and he would certainly have scored.