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Rotation?

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???




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The journalist

Writer: OxfordSpur Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday October 9 2012

Time: 3:21PM

Your Comments

Is that journalistic spin, BC?
Love totty
Rotation is essential if you don't want to wear your team out come January a la Redknapp. Obviously you don't rotate just for the sake of it, up to the coach to spot which players need a rest and which look fresh. Tactically you may want to use a different type of player for certain games so that would be natural rotation, just look at Fergie, very rarely he will have an unchanged team. I also like the way AVB uses the available subs, it keeps the squad involved and all players on their toes. COYS.
ItalianYiddo
You have to play your best available players against the best teams. It's crazy not to. A good manager though can be very subtle in the way he "rests" good players to keep the squad engaged. You can demoralise a good player by dropping him when he knows he should be playing but making way for another against a weaker team is a back-handed compliment.
Love totty
I saw an interview with Ferguson once where he talked about rotation. He made the point that any manager would prefer to play his strongest 11 every game, but if you tried to do that you would have burned them out well before the end of the season. I've always thought he was the master of rotation, although even he's finding it harder with the weaker squad United now have.Fans only realise a player needs resting once his form has already dropped, the manager needs to see the problem coming and rest him while he's still performing well. If Harry had done that with Parker last season maybe his performance level wouldn't have dropped the way it did. The difficult trick is to change players while still picking a team strong enough to win whatever the next match is. Its rare to have totally like for like substitutes, some tactical tweaks are almost forced by team changes. For instance at the moment we are playing with what are effectively two box to box central midfield players in Dembele and Sandro, we are also without our two first choice centre backs in Vertongen, playing LB, and Kaboul, injured. You could see if that changed you might employ Parker or Livermore as a Makele style midfield player protecting the back four and give Jan and Kaboul more licence to carry the ball forward.
jod
The way AVB has worked the squad so far is how you should rotate a squad. Main players play most of the games and subbed at appropriate times and squad players integrated in correct games and times. If AVB carries on doing it this way we wont run out of gas come Feb. I would like to see Sandro/Parker/Hudd given plenty of rest and rotated. Hopefully Lennon and Bale will see the benefit of rotation too COYMFS!
JattYid
You need to play your best XI for the opposition given the fitness of your players, the threats the other team poses, your tactics, your formation and all with an eye on the schedule. It is not your best XI players that start, it is your best XI, given all of the factors that are available.

Playing Lloris was a deft move, IMO. It ended Friedel's streak, which takes that elephant out of the room. It tells both that they need to deserve it and it stops the press from running with the story for the next two weeks. Rotation does not mean all XI players. Bale will still play 4 out of 5 games. But there are times he should sit. For his own good and to make certain that all believe they are part of the team. Once BAE, Kaboul, Parker, Naughton are all back, we'll start seeing AVB's idea of rotation. It's a good thing. COYS
peterballb
You have to get in right. Harry seemed to randomly drop in Krancjar for example who would the play badly. It was like he did not know the individual.
spurdon
Players like and need to know how their team mates play and have that comfort in knowing that their partners do likewise. Surely they gain this knowledge form rigorous training and should be capable of stepping in whenever and with whomever, also the secret of a good lover; we have 4 fantastic CB's in Vert, Gallas, Kaboul, and Daws. Caulker will soon be up there among them once he gets some experience under his belt. Gallas may not have more than another season left in him but that's OK he has been an excellent acquisition. Vert can also cover at LB and in my mind may be a better option than Benny in some games. Walker, well I am still not 100% convinced but not sure we have a better replacement just yet. In the middle Djembele is very good as is Sandro. Parker will be back eventually to give Sandro a break but he again may not be around many more seasons and I do not believe Jake is good enough form what I have see of him. Can Andros and Falque offer adequate cover, not sure as they are both inexperienced but do show they have the ability to be given time to show what they are capable of. Dempsey is a little disappointing for me so far as is Siggy but we know they are both good players, Siggy is the best bet of the two because he is still young and I think he will be a future star for us. I do think we are short on strikers, JD is OK but always fails to score regularly against the better teams and he is also very one dimensional. I believe Ade should start much more often than JD, or play them both. But I am very exited by the future, very excited indeed and it gets me so wet you could wash your hands down there, and that must be a good sign HHXX Read more: http://www.spurs.vitalfootball.co.uk/article.asp?a=7513631#ixzz28oV1nYsE
Horny Helen
keep formations the same and use the squad to its strength's.use certain players who are up against certain players of other teams who can compete better against the opposition player and teams stile.subs can also combat different situations and win games AV b looks like he knows a thing or two about using squads o we will se.coys .
bazdog
For me, rotation is about subtle changes. One, maybe two changes with those players left out of the starting 11 still on the bench. Example: Townsend starts (an "easy" home game) with either Bale or Lennon on the bench. Same with Sandro/Parker/Hudd/Livermore, Ade/Defoe/Dempsey, Siggy/Dempsey, Walker/Naughton, all the CBs etc. The only area we are lacking a "Plan B" for is Dembele.
Bajan Spur
HH, "so wet you could wash your hands down there". Oh my days.
Crissybwoy
With some key injuries at present the team pretty much picks itself with the same 14 players either starting or coming on in the PL. We have rotated a bit in the EL and totally in the COC. When we get Benny, Kaboul, Parker, Naughton and now Ade back, it should allow AVB the chance to freshen when needed but the main point raised is that we have NO style change or weaknesses in those players to fill in and play the same way, pressing and attacking. Decisions will be crucial though if you have to play Townsend in wide role to see if he is good enough to fill the boots for a longer period than the odd game or sub. I do not see a problem later on to change the CB's , Vert/Caulks/Kaboom/Gallas/Daws could all be interchangeable depending on Injuries and I see no weak links. (Would not play Daws and Gallas together though) Any other pairing is OK by me depending on opposition as naturally some pairings are slightly stronger. Walker/Naughton/BAE/Verts all would be top cover in each position at Full backs. We have 3 good GK's so not worried there. Midfield needs Dembele whenever possible. He is the spark that takes us forward with purpose. Sandro/Parker no worries to swap round. Dempsey/Siggy similar. Ade/Defoe could play both or either/or. Will be very interesting to see how this plays out, but Caulker has already said the Boss seems to have NO favourites so presume everyone will get their chance. The only one that would change the way we play is Thudd from a deeper lying quarterback type which would certainly mean a plan B.
COYS R US
we are finally playing to the best of our ability this season under a manager who knows how to work the squad and get everyone playing as a unit which is fantastic and something OSF could never master. with ratface leaving along with vdv i was genuinely worried but with the signings weve made and the attitude all the players are showing we will be right up there this season. JD leading the line this season was something i never pictured and i thought that AVB would definitely be looking to loose JD but it just shows you what a bit of confidence from a manager can do for you and the team. Surely that has given players like gomes etc a hope of perhaps getting back into the squad. Things are a lot rosier this season i feel for the players and how they feel in terms of value from the management team, not with OSF and his favourites. As many have said, thursday nights is no longer about " going all the way to Azerbaijan" so i will play the worst team i can, its a bout winning a trophy which is absolutlely fantastic for this club. Big result against the chavs and AVB is definitely a ******** legend. COYMFS
Yidd Fein
*gomes in the team
Yidd Fein
Rotation for me is trying to get away with not playing your strongest lineup. Man U do it all the time. This WILL mean that you drop points, but Man U get so many points that they can absorb the loss and still win the title. Spurs' max was 70 & 69 points - any more dropped, and we would not have got near 4th. We slumped due to weak backup in squad, round pegs in square holes, and inadvisable swicthes to 4-4-2. When it comes to rotation, people make overly bold statements. For example, Mancini definitely rotates - yet he clearly wore Silva out last season - and for what? They didn't get out of their CL group. Adam Johnson was their Niko - in a side that DOES rotate. Harry generally keeps a winning XI, and that was his style. I do not believe for one second that Harry could make rotation work. So he didn't. People are going overboard with AVB so far. So far we haven't seen anything that suggests that he will rotate yet for Spurs. Bringing in Lloris is simply bringing in the new signing - as he did with Dembele and Dempsey. Sigurdsson and Livermore and Friedel are the current fall guys. Wait to later on in season before we can make such a statement.
TonyRich
TonyRich, why was the switch to 4-4-2 inadvisable? Some people told Harry that's our best formation.
Crissybwoy
Yidd Fein - we are definitely NOT playing to the best of our ability. We are getting results, but not performing adequately yet. I have been to a couple of games, and it isn't better than last season - YET.
TonyRich
agreed TR!!!
Ossie
Better than last season, Tony, will be playing adequately right through until May. We hit some dizzy heights performance-wise last year but let's not go over old ground. The team will evolve over the months ahead in both planned and unplanned ways and there will be ups and downs. No point in looking back at recent games and wishing we had done this or that. We're where we would have hoped to be after 7 games so that's cause for some satisfaction.
Love totty
....and I'd settle for 14 points from the next 7 games too!
Love totty
Rotation is fine providing it can be achieved without weakening the team, and compromising results and dropping points. We are in a position at the moment where we can rotate in certain positions seamlessly, but in others we weaken ourselves if the 1st choice player is left out, this means that we have to be very very careful, when and against whom, we rotate in some positions. It is nice to be like Man City and Chelsea, who can rotate with impunity, if everybody is fit, they can put 2 equally strong 11s on the field, with the exception of their GKers. We are not quite in that position, although ironically we can play either of our 2 keepers without a worry.
Frank
Redknapp's style was to play his best 11 players regardless of opposition or circumstance in the league and put out joke teams in the cups. Unfortunately that meant, apart from never going to win anything, it knackered out half the squad and ostracised the other. Its early days, but i'm hopeful we will see more efficient squad management from AVB - let's face it, it's not hard.
StillRickyVilla
The two i worry about are Bale and Lennon. They are both difference-makers and rely on speed and athleticism. I can't see who we can bring in without weakening the team. Townsend is getting a go from the subs bench but he's definitely not there yet. Perhaps something to look at in January.
StillRickyVilla
Ox, as you said.. we now have 2 players in every position.. that is the way to have squad rotation, and match time subs. like for like players.. IMO...Harry just did not understand this, and we lost too many games year after year, these inc. cup winning games, and chances.. not to mention the dreadful loss of PL points back end of season 2 years running... so spurs lost multi £m's in revenue nad merchandising, top quality players etc..
Block D Spurs
It all comes down to money doesn't it. MU etc can afford big wages across a big squad so they have the quality in depth and those who don't play so much have the compensation of trophies and a healthy bank balance. It's a virtuous circle from their perspective. We need the new stadium and new financial rules.
Love totty
Judging by the comments so far this is obviously a highly complicated subject, which I guess, is partly why good Managers get paid so much! Harry didn't bother which, we all seem to agree, is why the players were burnt out by February. So far, AVB seems to know what he's doing so it's really a case of "wait and see". COYS
ParkLane67
I think this "players are tired" thing can be over stated. In their pomp, some 5 or so years or more ago, how many games did the likes of Terry and Lampard miss, and I can remember one season when Michael Dawson played some 50 games for us. There are players that benefit from rotation, whilst there are others who need to play every game if fit.
Frank
It is too early to fairly judge AVB and his rotation at Spurs. He does not yet have the players in the lineup to really demonstrate any rotation, but that will come within the next month. One area where he gets no credit is with his rotation at Chelsea. People constantly have a go at his man-management, yet all of these old fogies were fresh down the stretch and they won two trophies. Drogba, Terry et al may not have liked him, but they were undoubtedly fresher when it mattered and that was down to them sitting. He can only be judged on the entire season at Spurs. 7 games, 14 points. My most optimistic prediction had us on 15 after 7. Pretty happy with the results, if not the play which has still yet to settle in to what could be considered a style of play. Still also in all four competitions, so it's all looking good so far, but we all know there remains 85% of the season still to be played. COYS
peterballb
The former manager has no squad rotation, what he do is simply cut the team into three, Group A is for most of the games except Europa, Group B is for Europa and Group C will never play despite getting named on the bench at times.
what_sux
Under 'Arry we got to a cup final. I think that was down to the level of opponent we drew in the rounds as opposed to anything else. Harrys idea of rotation was putting Carlo in because he'd played the other rounds of the cup so deserved to play the Final. That was a wrong move. I thought the idea of rotation was to be able to put out your strongest team for the hardest games? AVB does seem to grasp it better than Harry did. But then again harry didn't grasp it at all did he?
Himwhatwhats
TR said that "Rotation is fine providing it can be achieved without weakening the team". The thing is that you can get away with weakening the team if you play the percentages i.e. Do just enough to win against the weaker sides. This is never going to be easy but is necessary for any team with ambition to win the league.
ParkLane67
Frank, that's fair of some players, but not for most. Harry said himself that Gallas, Bale, Modric, Parker were all knackered, but he kept throwing them out there. To suggest that their poor form during February, March, April did not contribute to the team's lack of form in the standings would be ridiculous. Players nowadays train way more than in other generations. The obligations on players outside of their practices and games is quite daunting too. International obligations, sponsorship obligations etc could see some players play 70 plus games. Euros, Internationals. WC qualifiers. Preseason. Season, Cups. I'm not saying I feel sorry for them, just that I do believe they all need a break here and there. Rotation is vital to completing the marathon in the best condition we can. This cost us the past three seasons and we didn't even try in all competitions. COYS
peterballb
In 1961 Spurs went with the same 11 all matches. But, as Ox put it in interrogative mood, this is something that has died with modern thinking and playing demands. AVB will need to find some way of rotating the squad (a) to keep players fresh, (b) to meet the needs of injuries, (c) to adjust to tactical needs, and (d) to keep players on their toes, e.g., Walker right now, who has been a shadow of his former self and needs something to remediate his play. A game sitting my do him some good, together with intensive work in practice.
Total knobhead
TK, agreed on Walker and I think if naughton and BAE were healthy, he would have already sat. I can only hope so because he needs a huge kick up the butt. To the point that the other day I was thinking about what a great steal Vlaar would be. COYS
peterballb
I believe that AVB will far far better at managing the whole squad and rotating players intelligently and I believe he has already shown as much. Of course it would be great if we could play the best 11 week in week out, whomever they might be in your eyes, but over the course of the season that will just lead to burnout and injuries. From my understanding, AVBs medical team are really very good. They also have the technical tools within the new training ground and I believe with the new shirts to be monitoring players physical stats in a completely state of the art way. Harry literally ensured our late season collapse because he played players until they were finished, and tiring players get injured. he even continued to play injured favourites and brought back players too soon after injury. i believe that we will see none of that under AVB, rather they will probably monitor and rest players to ensure injuries are avoided. he will also rotate to meet tactical requirements and rotate to keep squad players happy and reward hard work. already players like caulker have spoken out in praise of this new meritocracy. Bigging up the cup competitions also helps because if all competitions are important then there are more important games to keep the whole squad busy. Of course rotation weakens you slightly if you rest players like bale, or ade, but we have a manager who prepares religiously for every game, so he will give a great deal of thought to what rotation will be suitable according to whom we play. I think that if you look over the whole of the lloris/friedel situation now in retrospect, i don't think it could have been handled more intelligently. Lloris got his debut before the international break, villa at home were never going to be the test of united away or something like stoke at home, friedel was supported and dropped on a high note, the press story was diffused and it seems that everyone is happy. the media must be devastated
Guernman
Just announced that Coyle has got the tin tack at Bolton, I bet he wished he'd stayed at Burnley. Good job he didn't, as some suggested, get the Spurs job.
Frank
AVB's rotation example is fairly evident as we continue to develop. It would be interesting to know (if anyone can dig out) how many players we had used by now last season and how many thus far in current season. Also, I thought it was a master stroke to give Lloris PL experience against Villa. Apart from all the political reasons, it made sense to introduce him in a game where even a relatively average performance would have been welcomed. Lo be hold though, Lloris did play excel!. Now getting more of the squad to play in various cups (that we are supposed to be taking seriously) is another way to get more of them to gel. Those cup players IMO under AVB WILL get a look-in in to PL games, where as Harry kept them for the cups only, thereby when out of the cup, they had no part to play for the rest of the season. I am looking forward to seeing more squad players gven PL game time and we may just find some hidden gems/pairings click in to place. COYS!.
Critical_Spur
Rotation rotation rotation vs Location location location.
spurdon
dempsey on adebayor: “You could see his quality when he came on. “Adebayor has confidence and you can tell he enjoys the game. He is someone who is very talented on the ball and he is also an unselfish player. “If he can give someone a goalscoring opportunity, he will always play him in. “He does a good job keeping possession and he always works really hard for the team. “It’s great to have a player of his quality and it is fun for the rest of the team to play with someone like that.” perhaps also a hint to defoe... i hope you're listening jermain
Guernman
Alot of times rotation is just a case of swings and roundabouts, it can have its ups and downs but sometimes its a vicious circle.
Slurms McKenzie
Critical_Spur, that's a toughie without going through all of the game summaries. That said, it's probably pretty even because players like Crouch played and then were sold and Modric refused to play for the first games and Ade was not here, so there was quite a bit of change for the first three games. Last season, in the PL, we had 29 different players that played of which 22 got starts. Includes the likes of Crouch, Saha, Nelsen etc. This season has already seen 24 players play with 18 having started. At some point, Parker will get a start. I expect there will be players coming in in January and I fully expect as Adebayor, Hudd and Dawson will get a start at some point. I expect as we'll use more or less the same number of players. What will differ is the playing time that guys get. 17 players already have at least 3 appearances. Kane has played. Falque and Mason have been on the bench. Townsend has played. Caulker and Naughton have played. Could anyone have seen Harry choose Caulker over Dawson? I think it's all good for the marathon that is the league. COYS
peterballb
Peterb, Good to see you have some statistics to hand!. Yes, I agree with your thoughts and I fully expect to see more playing time for MOST of the squad, as long as AVB sticks by his word re taking cups seriously. All good for the development of the WHOLE squad. COYS!
Critical_Spur
I don't think Friedel and Lloris were rotated at all. Personally I would have given the new guy his first premiership game earlier but I’m happy he has got a clean sheet under his belt so fair play to him and the coach. I don't think it’s needed yet anyway (except for up front!). What we need is good cover and they need to be ready to take their chances if there is an injury, a hectic week or if someone needs a rest. Pretty much what Harry was doing and if AVB can bring the same success and better then it’s all good. I don't think we are playing our best 11 yet, or at our maximum, so hopefully we will come a long way as a team this season from the last few years. COYS.
SpursOne2
We will need a shed load of goals this year. If you look at the table already there is a 6 goal difference between us and 1st place and 3 between us and 2nd, and its only 7 games into the season!. Last year there was a massive 39 goals between 4th and 1st come the end. Our forwards/strikers can be play really well and not score goals but we need them hitting the net at the end of the day, so it’s important to get them ALL fit and firing. Defoe being on form is great but he cannot carry it all by himself so it would be madness just to play him. If his goals dry up then we have the other guys having to come on at try to build their own momentum up which could mean we miss out on vital goals. We need them all scoring, all fresh and ready to step up. Now that Ade has had some time to train and recover, his fitness is better, same for Dempsey we should be using them to make sure our tally is as high as possible come the end. This is the one area imo we do need to rotate. Come Jan we also need to add another striker to beef things up and help kick the others up the ass. COYS
SpursOne2
I am not sure how hot defoe is, he often starts seasons with a quick flurry of goals before drying up. meanwhile he as now taken 38 shots this season and only scored 4, thats a conversion rate of 1 in 9.5. I would hate to see him cold
Guernman
Ooh Guerman you need to move on now, we get your point about Defoe, it's almost coming like an obsession now
Ossie
fair enough ossie :)
Guernman
..
spurdon
AVB is doing a fine job regarding rotation the squad look more like a team. Players look as though they are interested and believe they have a chance of getting game time unlike under Harry were they were not involved. Even when subs come on they are ready and wanting to play unlike when Harry eventually did bring subs on they were not up for it and stale and slow. So well done AVB.
thfan
Might need to rotate a few knocks after tonight's internationals.
spurdon
 

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