The Importance of Being Idle: A Look at the Rotation Policy

Amin MalikContributor INovember 7, 2008

It seems like a good/bad idea.

It gives everyone a chance to play/doesn't give players a chance to settle in.

It keeps all the players happy/angers players who have been performing well but find themselves kept out of the team due to the policy.

It is the rotation policy, and it is one of the most opinion polarising policies in coaching today.

The rotation policy is a method of team selection where the starting 11 are switched up from game to game. Rotation policies differ from manager to manager. Some switch players regardless of form, some bring into consideration which players would have the most impact against a certain opponent, and some are chosen based on fitness.

The biggest difference between rotation policies however, is how successful they are. The most ardent advocate of the rotation policy is Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez. In my opinion, the rotation policy at Liverpool was a complete failure.

Some people point to Liverpool's European success as vindication of Rafa's rotation but I credit Liverpool's Champions League record more towards Benitez's ability to dissect an opponent and find their weakness more than his commitment to keeping players fresh by rotating them.

Liverpool's recent success has only come after Benitez has toned down his rotation policy a bit and has gradually begun fielding players based on form.


With that said, the rotation policy can be a great idea, especially when it is implemented at smaller clubs with less talent in their ranks. The rotation policy excels at these types of clubs because these teams will usually never be more talented than their opposition but they stand a chance if they field a fresher squad than their opponents.

When it's all said and done, the success of the rotation policy depends on the manager. The manager should be very aware of what each player can bring to the team and should also be adept at honing on in opponent's weaknesses, combining both of these qualities to devastating effect.

Also, the squad should have an untouchable key player in each of the four positions (goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, and forward). This gives the team a solid spine and creates a continuity in the lineup while also satisfying potential match winners with big egos and keeping them happy and performing.

To sum everything up, the rotation policy when implemented properly can be a useful tool for success but when mishandled can cause a squad to implode.

And that ladies and gentlemen, is the importance and being idle.