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How Tinkering Became The Key To Success
Footytubeblog (Blog) 4 years ago
In 2004 Claudio Ranieri was removed from the helm at Chelsea to make way for The Special One. He was renowned for his honesty, charming personality and above all else, his status as a ‘tinkerman’, which he acquired after constantly altering his tactics. As the team flickered between delightful and dreadful, Ranieri attracted a barrage criticism that undoubtedly contributed to his downfall. But almost a decade after his departure, is it now clear that tinkering with your team is essential in the quest for success?

“These days it is important tactically to change because the opponent knows you very well and if you have some players who change tactically that is important because you can surprise them, maybe only for five minutes but in that five minutes you can score a goal. Now a lot of managers are doing this.” (Claudio Ranieri, 2011)

Barcelona and Manchester City instantly spring to mind when I think of ‘squad rotation’, which is fitting because they just so happen to be two of the most successful teams in recent years. Once upon a time it was widely believed that ‘you should never change a winning team’ regardless of the situation, but now an increasing number of managers are beginning to understand the benefits of developing a ‘crop rotation’ system within their squad.

With each new campaign clubs are faced with the troubling dilemma of how to keep their entire squad motivated, healthy and perhaps most important of all, happy. Roberto Mancini has attempted to repel the threat of complacency by consistently juggling his line-up, especially the strike force, in an attempt to keep his players on their toes. Manchester City are blessed with a squad littered with outstanding individuals but that in itself is a double-edged sword, as every player will expect to be the first name on the teamsheet. His rotation policy should help maintain the squad harmony that propelled them to their first league title in 44 years.

I think it’s fair to say that without a squad rotation system in place, very few youngsters would be able to experience first-team football so early in their career. The hand of Brendan Rodgers may have been slightly forced thanks to a series of injuries but his selection adjustments have allowed the likes of Raheem Sterling, Jonjo Shelvey and Suso to establish themselves as incredibly promising individuals. The knock on effect generates genuine excitement amongst supporters and can even disguise the disappointing results that may transpire as a consqeunce of not being able to select your best players.

Unfortunately managers have to be very careful and delicate in how they explain to their leading stars that they may not play every week. The likes of Wayne Rooney and Lionel Messi enjoy a good sulk every time they are forced to sit on the bench, even though it is critical that they don’t suffer ‘burn out’ midway through the season. In recent weeks we’ve seen the likes of Demba Ba and Darren Bent make waves in the press after becoming increasingly frustrated with their role in the team. Some players are ‘un-droppable’ but the rest just think they are.

Despite the obvious desire to keep players fresh, there is a strong case for maintaining a sense of familiarity in certain positions. Both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur appear to possess two different first-choice goalkeepers this season, which can only have a detrimental effect. Without a string of consecutive games neither shot-stopper is able to develop any real confidence and the defence will inevitably struggle to establish any degree of trust. Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted he is “comfortable" with his policy but I think he’d give up chewing gum, if he could restore Edwin van der Sar or Peter Schmeichel to his starting line-up.

The pressure, intensity and expectation will continue to increase as more money continues to pile into English football. Whereas 20 years ago, players could play two games a week and drink their own body weight in beer, the physical demands of the modern game have all but extinguished such a lifestyle. I think come May we’ll realise that it’s not the team with the best squad that succeeds in the Premier League, but the team who uses their squad the best.

Written by Will Taylor

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