Livermore Has No Fixture Concerns
Assistant manager David Livermore has said he would've preferred a home tie to kick off the return to the Championship in 2017/18, but ultimately it doesn't matter in reality.
Speaking to London News Online with Millwall set to face Nottingham Forest on the opening day at the City Ground, the statistics and history show that Forest haven't lost on the first day at home since a second tier clash in 1955, and Livermore indicated that we'd simply attempt to rewrite recent history.
'Going away is probably not ideal, you would want to be at home to start with. But it doesn`t really matter, does it? When we first got promoted to the Championship in 2001 we started with an opener at home and beat Norwich 4-0. We went away a week later and lost 4-0 at Birmingham! Forest away in the first game is a very, very tough fixture but one we can all be excited about. It`s a great place to go and play football. I expect them to be stronger this season. Mark Warburton is a very talented English manager.'
With the away trip then leading us into three straight home games, Livermore knew that home form in particular would be key for the side next season.
'Then we have three in a row at home, which is nice. We know our home form is going to be crucial this season. August is a tough month where you`re potentially playing seven games. We`ve got four at home, possibly five if we get through in the cup. That has been quite friendly towards us.'
As for his thoughts on our festive fixture list with Wolverhampton Wanderers at The Den on Boxing Day, he felt that would be a great game for the fans.
'Being at home against Wolves on Boxing Day is great. You don`t want to be travelling to the other end of the country. Then we have Queens Park Ranger at home (Dec 30) which is interesting for various reasons, with Ollie (Ian Holloway) coming back to The Den.'
With the additional of Hull City, Sunderland and Middlesbrough to the mix following their relegation from the Premier League last term, Livermore felt that the clubs with the bigger budgets would obviously be challenging at the top of the table, but that didn't always equal success.
'You`d expect the ones with the bigger budgets to be the ones challenging, even if it doesn`t guarantee success. Of course it is an advantage. The interesting ones will be the North-East clubs. It`s difficult to pinpoint anyone as favourites. If Steve Bruce gets it right at a big club like Aston Villa then you have to expect them to be in the mix. Derby have had Gary Rowett go in there and he is a very capable young manager. Birmingham City, under Harry Redknapp, you just don`t know how they are going to fare.'
With the players soon to be back for pre season training and the obligatory fitness tests, Livermore knows the shorter break because of the trip to Wembley isn't ideal, but the players will be on a high from promotion and that should make a telling difference.
'Probably back-to-back summers of that doesn`t help in terms of short breaks. We`ve had about five weeks off which I wouldn`t say is optimal, probably six weeks is. But then having eight weeks off means the players get de-trained quite a lot and you have to adapt your pre-season a bit. They`ve had two or three weeks of nice rest and then back onto their offseason programmes to prepare for pre-season. I`m sure the players would have liked more time off, as players you always do!'