Familiar Trends – And Some Much Less So

The Fixture List – Our Observations

Ronnie Allen.

What now for Wolves after a season that started earlier and finished later than any other one in their long history?

Their latest start to a campaign, of course, and the first time they have ever had five League matches scheduled for them by the planners in May.

These are truly extraordinary times in sport and beyond and the publication of the 2020-21 Premier League fixtures has underlined the point in different ways.

Some aspects are familiar – a very early home game against Manchester City, followed by a trip to West Ham smacks very much of two seasons ago and isn’t a Molineux meeting with Fulham something that often seems to come very early or very late?

But waiting until December 12 for the first of four West Midlands derbies is another case of new ground being broken and the first of the clashes with Albion doesn’t come round until a couple of weeks into the New Year.

At least that increases the chances of substantial numbers of fans being allowed into grounds by the time an all-Black Country meeting is staged for the first time since 2012.

Come January 16, it will have been almost nine years since the clubs were last in opposition. And they don’t play the return until the first weekend of May – the first time they will have met in the League in that month since a 2-1 Albion victory at Molineux in 1982 hastened Wolves’ slide towards relegation. They nearly took their neighbours down with them but a Baggies side under the management of Ronnie Allen narrowly stayed up at the expense of Leeds.

There are other unusual features of the programme facing Nuno and his men over the next nine months.

They will have a first Boxing Day meeting with Spurs since they lost 1-0 at White Hart Lane in the first of their successive title-winning years in the late 1950s, this one also taking place in North London.

Goalscorer Robbie Dennison in action against Sheffield United in May, 1989

And they will end a campaign against Manchester United for the first time since 1979, although that exciting 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford 41 years ago was a rearranged Bank Holiday Monday fixture after cup commitments and postponements. It wasn’t originally scheduled as the last match.

This will be the first time since the First World War that Wolves have started a League season in September and they have not played at Sheffield United in their opening game since a Ron Flowers goal failed to stave off a 2-1 defeat there in 1961-62.

To qualify an earlier point, Wolves have previously played five games in the League in May but not when so many matches have been originally scheduled for that month. In 1989, for example, their crowded finish included rearranged midweek games against Sheffield United and Wigan.

Thomas Publications