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Premier Class Spells Goodbye To The Fixture Treadmill

Nuno – at the helm at a time when games and match-day programmes come round less frantically than before.

So you thought this was a fast start to the season by Wolves? Think again……in some ways, it is among the slowest starts they have EVER made.

Not in terms of points on the board, of course – that well-deserved point at Manchester United underlined that they have emerged very impressively from the blocks.

It’s the rate of actually playing games that is a little alien to Molineux eyes. Fixtures do come round considerably slower at this level.

Nuno’s men have played six Premier League games and one in the Carabao Cup in the first six weeks of 2018-19, while the Championship campaign is already nine games old, with the more successful clubs from that level also having played two cup ties.

This time last year, Wolves were off to a flying start in more ways than one. They had crammed ten match days into the first six weeks of their season, including two cup ties.

Even in a division in which sides play only 38 League matches, this particular Premier League experience is breaking new ground for Wolves.

Under Mick McCarthy, they had played an extra cup tie by now in both 2010-11 and 2011-12 on top of six bread-and-butter games and, in 2009-10, had played seven League games and two ties in the opening six weeks.

With Dave Jones as their manager in 2003-04, they had played seven Premier League fixtures and a cup game at this same stage – but even that relatively busy opening was way down on what the club were used to when they were regular participants in the top flight.

Going back to the early 1980s and much earlier, it was normal for Wolves to have played nine League games in the first six weeks – and tasted League Cup action and maybe a European night or two along the way.

Derek Dougan contemplates the close attention of Ian Ure in the home clash with Manchester United in August, 1969. The Molineux draw was Wolves’ fifth game of a season that was still only two weeks old.

It is not only the restructuring of the divisions, with the 18-team top flight that resulted, that has changed the tempo.

International breaks are now an expected and accepted part of the football calendar and they slow the onset of games to such a degree that night fixtures for those in the top bracket are largely confined to the cups.

All of which means that you must take your pick – you either have longer to savour the good days, of which there are plenty for Wolves at present, or longer to while away in waiting for the next game to come round.

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