Last season, I was half amused and confused at the change in thinking over when to stick or twist with a starting line-up.
When the team is struggling, there is a constant call for change, whether tactical or with the players themselves. When we win, it is all about keeping the same team, unless an obviously better players is again available. Does that hint at our own uncertainty or just that as fans we always think with our hearts over our heads?
Sunday was a surprise to many in AVB dropping Friedel for Lloris, and though the move pleased quite a few fans and certainly looks to be a decision very much with the future in mind, but at what point is rotation positive and when does is become a negative? It seems to take a brave manager to rotate his centre halves and keepers and I don't recall too many occasions where it has worked for the better.
Spurs suffered with this problem for me, but having to nurse Ledley King through several seasons and others such as Man United seem all the worse for switching their back five around more than they would surely like, though is that just as much nursing fragile players, as not knowing what his best back line is? There seems an obvious logic to retaining the core of the team, especially the GK and CB's. Based on that, should a manager replace all three when ever possible as opposed to dropping one or two at a time to keep players fresh? Perhaps this is the next stage of the rotation evolution, just as long as they don't suffer too many injuries.
It seems sensible that rotating players game upon game is disruptive to team cohesion and unit understanding such s a central defensive pairing. Players like and need to know how their team mates play and have that comfort in knowing that their partners do likewise. Can you achieve this fully when a manager is chopping and changing every game? Perhaps if their are Harry-esque in being allowed to just go out and play, but what about when you play for a tactically minded manager, who is more technically demanding? A tactical man, might however expect to pick players to counter the opposition, which might make rotation all the more important.
Maybe we should be breeding players of such high technical quality that they can almost play with anyone and in any formation, but be schooled in the default shape and coaches demands, similarly to how Barca run their teams from top to bottom. In playing your academy sides in the same way as the first team do, doesn't that make for a smooth transition up the levels? You would think so, wouldn't you. It always confused me that in previous eras, Spurs reserves or academy teams would play a different shape to the senior side. Perhaps the manager had no interest or didn't think they were worth bothering with, but surely if you embrace rotation, you also have to have a preferred way of playing in a long term plan?
Under Harry for example, we had Walker and Corluka as right backs, Defoe and Adebayor as No9s. clearly both are totally different types of players, so how could Harry rotate and not have to alter the way the team plays? In fairness to Harry, he didn't buy Corluka, but he did the other three. Now, it seems we are closer than ever in having not only two players for every position or at least players who offer genuine versatility to play several positions, but we can in theory maintain the same shape or be able to alter things during a game without changing players or suffering as a result.
I suppose in rotation the art is getting the balance right and having the ability to build a squad that not only is able to cope mentally and physically with being 'rested' but perhaps also having the intelligence to play with other players as opposed to their preference. It is amazing how quickly some players lose that match playing edge and therefore form. Sometimes a manager doesn't know how a players will react from playing every game to one every two or three weeks. It appears that the game in this country is now breeding players who are more versatile, as opposed to the one dimensional player of even recent generations, and I can see that being a major consideration for any future purchase unless the individual is outstanding in his preferred position.
Players such as Vertonghen, Dembele, Dempsey and Sigurdsson look equally comfortable in at least two positions and in Lloris, we have a keeper who looks a natural for a modern game with his ability with his feet and willingness to come off his line and sweep up behind his defence. That is a role that will become more vital as time goes by. Versatility is clearly a major advantage in being able to switch play and also rotate a squad, but as a fan, would you ideally go with the mantra of not changing a winning team or is that now something that has died with modern thinking and playing demands???