The short sprints of the league so far will soon be replaced

Last updated : 12 November 2009 By Firparkcorner
Any time a club like Hibs, Aberdeen or even ourselves raced to the top of the league in the early weeks of the season, it seemed sage old men in football and journalism would come out with comments based on the phrase 'the championship is a marathon not a sprint'. Whoever first uttered those words must be cursing the fact they weren't patented but now things seem to have changed slightly.

Despite being 14 weeks into the league season we have only played 11 games. Rather being in thick of a seemingly endless slog until the Scottish Cup produced some free weekends, the clubs have become accustomed to the stop-start nature of the new style campaign.

Jim Gannon has made a great start at Fir Park
We opened up the season with a three game burst against St Johnstone, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen. Five points from nine was a very satisfactory total and everyone could draw breath when Scotland played Macedonia. The next grouping contained only one trip, to United, and home games against Rangers, Hibs and Falkirk. We picked up seven from 12, another very respectable tally, and progressed in the League Cup.

After Scotland's jaunt to Japan, we resumed with three aways games and a single home contest against Hearts. We didn't pick up so many points but six from 12 was nothing to be ashamed of either although we did suffer a disappointing cup exit at St Mirren.

By this point it is fair to say we have been carrying a number of injuries. Slane is the obvious long-term absentee but others have missed out for various lengths of time with a range of bumps and bruises. The frequent breaks means the injured players were not missed as often they might previously have been and, crucially, those playing through unacknowledged knocks were given much-needed recovery time.

Of course for the likes of Stephen Craigan and our youthful Scotland stars, the internationals simply provide a different location for work rather than a break from it altogether. Nonetheless, it is probable that the pauses work in the favour of those clubs carrying smaller squads. Starting with Aberdeen on Saturday, we now gear ourselves for a change in tempo, no longer will be be playing in short bursts of three or five games, but we face a game every week for the forseeable future. Indeed, if we reach the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup, we will not have a free Saturday before April and there are occasional mid-week games thrown in as well.

We have obviously done very well so far to find ourselves in the top six but Jim Gannon may now reflect that even more squad rotation than usual could be necessary to prevent our young legs from tiring.