When a team (not just Spurs) has a large talented squad and a result or two goes against the team the football community invariably comes to the same conclusion – the manager simply does not know his strongest or first eleven yet. It was used to describe us after the North London Derby and is currently doing the rounds for blue teams from Manchester and west London.
If it is later in the season either the same reason is rolled out by the media or the tact changes to saying that the team changes so regularly that it cannot be settled or gelled and that is why results are not going the expected way. Is this something we should be worried about given all the rotation quotes coming from AVB and the players? If we believe the media then yes but I do not think it is as clear cut as that. It really depends on how AVB rotates his team…
The obvious first port of call is to ensure that the players understand how AVB wants a formation to play. How each player should position themselves whether we have the ball or not. Who should press, who should be making that forward run or who should be covering who – all should be well understood by the entire squad. It should not be seen as Townsend as right wing but simply as right winger therefore it does not matter who fills that role.
If this is true then making three or four changes for a game should not matter as everyone knows how a role should be played. As with any team there will be a certain level of creative freedom but essentially the formation is played how AVB wants it. The problem is that players may well interpret things differently and even if they do have the exact same interpretation, different players will make different decisions. So understanding the formation is important but perhaps not the most crucial factor in whether a teams rotation will work.
This is where rotation generally falls over, a player must understand how their partner is going to react to a situation to enable them act accordingly. This is how telepathic understanding is built and the team plays well. I don’t think AVB needs to know his strongest or first choice eleven but I think he does need to know which partnerships work well together.
I feel there are a number of partnerships in a team and all are key to a successful season but I would say the most crucial is the central midfield trio. If these guys do not click then Spurs will struggle to create chances and break up the opposition – both have direct relation to goals scored and goals conceded. I am not suggesting that if one of the partnership trio is out then all three should rotate but I would suggest that two of the three should be usual partners.
You could easily argue that the whole team is a partnership and to a certain extent I believe that too. But I think that understanding the formation completely, compensates for this. As such the defence may not need to be playing week in week out with the same midfield because the defence and midfield understand their roles within the formation.
AVB the tinkerman
He has come out and said he will be rotating more this year, players have said the same thing. Assuming the best case scenario that Spurs reach the final of the three cup competitions then the team will be playing 67 games (38 Premier League, 6 Fa cup, 6 League cup, 17 Europa League) with the possibility of further FA cup games due to replays. AVB has said he will take each competition seriously so rotation will definitely be needed.
All the players so far have been saying the right things, they know they will get a chance because there are so many games. However there are some positions in the team that you do not see rotating all that often when the game must be won. I’d say goalkeeper, full backs and striker are pretty much set in stone for must win games. While the ‘back up’ goalies and full backs have probably accepted this, I doubt the strikers have!
Some have suggested that perhaps playing a, so called, second string in Europe and League cup will solve the issue. I don’t think that works as the ‘second string’ will get demoralised knowing they are not considered first choice which, if they need to be called upon in ‘bigger’ games, may result in lacklustre play or over eagerness to prove themselves. Also I think AVB see’s all the games, more or less, as equally important. Now clearly there will be instances when this is not true, for instance we win our first five group stage Europa League games then clearly the final group game is fairly meaningless as we would have already qualified and (in all likelihood) be group winners.
I suppose I am worried by the prospect of having an unsettled team due to rotation but have convinced myself that smaller partnerships within the team and understanding of formation are more important. I have also convinced myself that the majority of the squad have accepted the rotation policy. I suppose there is only one way to find out, sit back and watch…
What do you think? Worried about the rotation that is likely to occur? Does AVB really treat all competitions equally? Should he play a first choice and stick to it, risking burn out, injuries, etc?
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