There was a time when an away game was something to be feared. Your side would have to enter the proverbial lion’s den and take on a side with hoards of fans behind them. It was almost mission impossible to win an away game. However, this season especially this seems to have changed. It came to my attention yesterday after another fantastic result on our travels that we are a much better side away from home. This seems to be a trend throughout the leagues this season. Now obviously every game is different and there are circumstances that may give the away side an advantage that they did not have at kick off.
Looking at the results this weekend this is evident, but not in every league. Man United and Spurs were the only Premier League sides who won away this weekend, and a certain Mr Clattenburg may have had something to do with the result at Stamford Bridge today. Perhaps things haven’t changed that much in the top league in the country. We all know the Football League is almost a completely different game, so is it easier for an away side to win at Accrington Stanley’s Fraser Eagle Stadium than Old Trafford?
In the Championship five sides won on the road out of only 11 games with another two picking up a point (including the mighty Addicks). The most surprising results this weekend came in the third tier where not one home side took all three points. In fact 6 teams picked up maximum points on their travels, including a 0-3, 0-4 and a 2-4 score line! A further three sides took the spoils in League 2 when playing away. In total 40% of the Football League games this weekend were won by the away side. Unheard of a few years ago!
This may be coincidence, but I think there must be a reason behind this. Possibly the financial situation has made a similar change on the pitch as it has off it. With ticket prices going up and attendances going down in the lower leagues, stadiums are no longer sold out up and down the country on a Saturday afternoon. Rather than swathes of angry locals, away sides are now met by the slightly less intimidating sight of empty seats, with just Dave from Dagenham hurling abuse at the travelling fans!
Or is it more of a footballing change? Watching Charlton most weeks it appears we have recently adopted the modern way of playing counter attacking football, by flooding the midfield and playing one up top looking to grab an opportunity when it comes. This style seems to be much more effective when playing away, where there is no pressure to push on and take the ascendency.
Whatever the reason, an away game doesn’t appear to be something for a fan or manager to worry about. Now if only we could learn how to win at home we wouldn’t be looking over our shoulder at the bottom three!