While this headline may be borderline terrible (we’re big fans of aliteration), we’re pretty interested by the ongoing squad rotation debate that is an old issue in the Premiership with Alex Ferguson championing it with his dominant Manchester United side of the 90s, came to more prominence with Claudio “Tinkerman” Ranieri at Chelsea and whose torch is now being carried by Rafa “99 consecutive squad changes” Benitez at Liverpool.
Although there have been plenty who have rotated before him in the Premiership, Benitez takes the concept to an entirely new level – doing it constantly for tactical reasons rather than simply when a player is tired.
The whole thing has been an issue ever since he arrived at Anfield, less so after he wins a trophy, more so after he collects 11 points from the first 9 Premiership matches. The players seem to be on his side, Steve Gerrard doing his best captain impression and backing the boss while Peter Crouch tries to accept that more goals do not mean more matches – for better or worse.
Rafa’s stance is that, with so many matches, Liverpool players and supporters will thank him for how fresh their team are come the end of the season. But with so many new arrivals at the club as the squad continues to take shape, many have argued it would be more than a little beneficial to at least let the squad develop some on-field cohesiveness before starting to rotate. And if they are going to rotate, maybe do so every few matches rather than every match? After all, shouldn’t professional atheletes be able handle a couple of matches on the trot? And if you’re already so far behind after a quarter of the Premiership season, what good is being fresh at the end?
Of course other sides rotate, but Jose Mourinho acknowledged that two players for every position was too much to handle and this season you will rarely find John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole or Michael Essien out of the side. Arsenal rotate, but Cesc Fabregas is almost ever-present even at 19. Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United do rotate, but only when their managers anticipate the players may need a rest rather than pre-empting any fatigue at all by giving them every other day off.
Regardless, it’s unlikely that Benitez is going to change his ways and it’s equally unlikely that people are going to stop complaining, including possibly-bitter ex-coaches, anytime a result goes against him or a goal-scoring player is dropped.
So where do you stand on rotation, either as it relates to Liverpool or football in general?
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