Benitez has been criticised for it, while Ferguson a genius. It’s not Martin O’Neill’s style while Mick McCarthy has been punished for his activities, but squad rotation over a 50 plus game season has been an all important skill to learn in modern football. When done properly it can keep your team fresh and operating at its full potential. Done badly and it may cause unrest and inconsistency.
Advantages of Squad Rotation
The more a team plays alongside each other the better their teamwork will become and the closer the team will be, aiming for the type of feedback from your assistant such as “The players would die for each other”. This will help in the long run get the side playing well together and make it much easier to rotate the players in future with little distruption. Helping you play more expansive tactics that benefit from the team knowing each other well.
Do remember that the team will play much better if they are consistent, too many changes through pre-season will mean that players will take longer to gel and distruption to the team could mean dropped points early on. Small changes introducing players into the side for the odd game will help the team gel with little disruption. Buying in squad players gradually instead of a squad overhaul can be a real benefit. Manchester City’s failings could be warranted alot with a poor connection between players at the back and in midfield
It won’t be any surprise that players who are playing in the first team will be much happier. Rotating the squad can help keep your whole team happy allowing each player to gain game time. Unhappy players can become trouble as they become undisciplined and distruptive, their morale falls and performances may be affected, making it more of a risk to bring the player into your squad.
Playing a player on a regular basis and even more in a winning side can boost morale of the whole squad and help keep content in the dressing room. Therefore when you need to call upon the player to fill into the squad it can be much more effective if morale is high within the squad and improving dressing room harmony. Although a good way to boost morale on a short term, could be to give a player game time in a winning reserve team.
The most obvious reason to rotate a squad is to keep players fit for key games. Using the calender and planning ahead using the notes system can help you prepare for key games in the season where you might want your best players to be 100% fit or avoid serious injury.
Introduce New Players: Prioritise Competitions
Planning throughout the season can be helpful, especially when you have lower league sides early on in cup competitions. This could be an ideal time to rotate players and give a change to your younger players. Giving young players a chance in cup competitions or even with the rest of the eleven will allow them to also gel with the squad quicker and create a cohesion throughout the team that will help you when the players break into the first eleven.
Things to avoid
Although rotation policies can be a balancing act, you can’t just play a new eleven each game. Try and avoid the following to help put in place a successful rotation policy.
Making major changes
Try and keep changes down to a minimum, where possible keep a spine to the team consistent. It can be helpful to keep key partnerships such as the centre backs together as much as possible to ensure a balanced and affective results. I wouldn’t change more then 3 players per game through an important run of games.
Lack of planning
It has become much easier now to plan throughout the season and you should consider when your reserves are playing as well as the first team. If you need to rotate or allow some of your players a game off you will need to make sure your reserves are not playing a game before the first eleven play otherwise you might find yourself with a lack of a fit replacement.
Buying too many players
I have found myself in the past become a bit of a collector of players, but having so many players in the team can really affect the squad harmony. Having too many players in your side can make it difficult to manage and rotate, once one player gets unsettled and is demanding more first team football, this may have a negative affect on the rest of the side. Keep a solid 23 man squad with decent replacements and make it easy for yourself to man manage each of the players and keep them happy with the amount of football that they deserve.
What are your squad rotation tips?
Keeping consistent squad throughout a season for Aston Villa and Birmingham City, is useful to keep squad harmony and gelling in FM this can improve fluid or counter attacking tactics. But squad rotation is vital to keep players fresh throughout a long season, help introduce new players to the first team as well as good man management.