The time for semifinals, finals and the conclusion to hard-fought league championships is fast approaching. The demands of modern-day football means that a club has to take a whole squad approach to be successful. The squad, not just the starting eleven need to be talented, dedicated, confident and feel wanted by the club. For these attributes to materialise into silverware success a leader has to nurture his whole squad and give them the belief needed to achieve at the highest level.
By Rob Boulton
This weekend sees the top sides in Europe trying to juggle their squads around in the hope of securing a vital league win whilst not injuring any key players ahead of some huge Champions League and Europa League ties next week. Manager’s will succeed or fail based on how they’ve managed their squads up to now, but most crucially how they use them between now and May.
All of a sudden the winger who’s been well short of confidence, the striker who couldn’t hit a barn door or the keeper who gives the whole crowd the jitters may suddenly be required to step in and perform at the highest level in some of the biggest games of the season. Their impact will not only be down to their natural ability, but also to the many hours across the season where the manager has had a quiet word to explain why they’re not first choice at the moment – but to keep training hard as they’re still a key part of the squad.
I know all of that sounds very basic, but footballers are pretty simple human beings by and large. Managers need to instil confidence and explain why players have been rested or maybe not started. Sometimes just that little arm around the shoulder can make all the difference. In today’s modern game, ultimately a manager is aiming to keep 25 players happy at all times as well as ensuring he does not shatter the dreams of the reserve or youth team players chomping at the bit to break through into the first team.
Anyone who’s played Football Manager will know the perils that can be lurking just around the corner, but it’s in these moments that real managers start to earn their wages as the skill of squad management is becoming ever more vital in winning and losing at the highest level.
When Barcelona won six trophies in 2009 the club was full of; talented players, a mixture of youth and experience, belief, commitment, confidence, an understanding of each other and a fantastic manager. Which club has what it takes to win the major trophies this year? Tweet us your thoughts @talkingbaws or comment below.