Remember a few weeks back, when U.S. Soccer fans were falling out of love with U.S. Jurgen Klinsmann?
Like a marriage headed for trouble, things had gotten stale, and so many things the U.S. manager did seemed to bother or upset the great unwashed.
This “honeymoon over” stage fell before that memorably fluffy white win in Denver, and before a scoreless draw in Mexico that certainly deserved a long, slow golf clap. And all seemed lovey-dovey again.
Still, we know these things can change, and in a hurry. Beside, some of the issues that spilled out in Brian Straus’ breakthrough piece of journalism are still out there. Like hungry wolves, they’ve been chased off the property, out of sight – but we get complacent and forget that they are out there at our own risk.
So let’s spread some yummy context over one of these issues:
Among the complaints careening through the formerly placid Klinsmann Valley back then was this business of when he revealed lineups. Some members of the chattering class didn’t fancy that a starting 11 was not revealed until match day morning.
The echo seemed strongest from former players in the media, many of whom still, understandably, see the game through a player’s eyes.
The thing is, this is fairly common practice.
Among the advocates of this coaching tenet is none other than Sir Alex Ferguson, who was formerly the retiree of the moment before one David Beckham swiped the baton yesterday.
Here’s what Ferguson said of lineup timing, via the Harvard Business School study on the ways of the managerial giant:
We never reveal the team to the players until the day of the game. We think of the media and the players’ agents. And my job is to give us the best chance possible of winning the match, so why should we alert our opponents to what our team is? For a three o’clock game, we tell them at one o’clock.
Klinsmann also referenced agents in his rationale of lineup revelation. Tell the players a day ahead, he has said, and there are 10-12 disappointed players. A call from some agent (if not two or three of them) may be on the way, offering up one more problem yet for dealing with. And, really, a wholly unnecessary one.
Oh, and when one agent finds out, the chances of opponents learning your lineup rise dramatically. And there’s goes any potential edge that might involve a lineup surprise or tactical switcheroo.