note: this is presented as a "work in progress" and I am posting it now for references purposes at the start of training camp...
Building a "Superclub"
in the 2008/9 premiership, Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson used an incredible 33 players in the 38 League matches his team played to win the title that year. Thirty Three! Granted, Man U. was involved in not only the Prem., but the Champions League, as well as domestic cup competitions that year. but is still seems an astonishing number.
It also reveals a fundamental truth. A "super club" like ManU doesn't have a "first 11" or a "second 11", its a little more subtle than that. Let's take a team which is facing 5 competitive matches in a 14-day span (a situation Sounders fans are familiar with from late last year). It is not as though you are going to field your first 11 in your Sunday League match and your second 11 the following Wednesday in Continental competition, or vice versa, because to do so would be to risk fielding a weakened side. It is more about a pool of 22 players, from which you can draw an altered 11 for each of the 5 matches, keeping any one player from getting too burned out.
What this takes is true roster depth, not just starters and reserves, but true rotational players and what I call "regulars" the guys who may not start all the time but get a lot of appearances in all competitions. Building this kind of depth also takes a system, which creates an understanding amongst all players as to where they fit in when and if they play. A "system" doesn't need to be one rigid formation and each player simply assigned to one specific role, it can be a lot more open than that, but it needs to be developed and known amongst all the players.
For the Sounders, we have what has come to be known as "Sigi's Arrow" around here, and we can use this as our starting point for addressing the issue of roster depth:
Dave has is system of Starters, Rotationals, and Reserves, but with the 30 man roster I feel there is a need for more layers to this. I propose a hierarchy of starters, regulars, backups, and reserves. Dave's "rotationals" would encompass some of my "regulars" and "backups", and his "reserves" would include some of my "backups" as well as "reserves".
Here's how I would Attempt to define these terms:
STARTERS: START [about] 90% or more of League matches. These are the players you EXPECT to see in the starting line-up; it is noteworthy when they DO NOT start a League Match. [there will not necessarily be 11 "starters"]
Regulars: APPEAR in at least [about] 50% of ALL matches. These are the players who, along with the "starters", will receive the bulk of playing time in all competitive matches when not injured or suspended.
Backups: These are the players whose primary time in League matches is when someone ahead of them is injured or suspended. They are likely to see significant time in non-League matches.
Reserves: These are players who will see limited playing time and whose primary duty will be to fill in for non-League matches. They may appear in league matches if there is an injury or availability crisis at their position.
The next question is who fits where on the current Sounders roster (plus just supplementary drafted players).
Here's my stab at how this would work:
[note: If I am not specifying a right or left wing, I just list the player as a winger: W.
If I am not specifying a withdrawn or center forward, I list the player as forward: F
if I am not specifying a left or right back, I list the player as a fullback: FB
if two positions are listed, the primary position is listed first.]
Ianni* cb, dm?
Evans* cm, dm?
Friberg cm, w?
Fernandez* w, cm
Fucito* wf, w?
Levesque* f, rw
Wahl* lb, cb
Tetteh* lb, lw?
Noonan* f, w
* note: a player ay be a "backup" or "reserve" at two positions, and as such this dual role may promote him to a "regular" or "backup".
Ianni: I would consider him a "backup" at DM
Evans: at best a "backup" as DM, if at all.
Fernandez: probably only a backup at CM
Fucito: including him on the depth chart as a winger is my speculation, as such I would consider him a "backup" there
Levesque: probably a "backup" at any one position; but combining the role of either forward or right wing elevates him to "regular"
Noonan: probably a "reserve" at any one position, similar situation to Levesque.
Wahl: a reserve at CB
Tetteh: at best a reserve as a winger, if at all.
What will the CF situation be? Will Nkufo/Jaqua split time (keeping in mind that even if it is a 2-1 or 3-1 split they will still both be "Regulars" on this chart)? What is O'Brien White's role?
Is Fernandez the clear choice for right wing, and will he be a "Starter?"
What is the CM situation? Is Friberg likely to primarily play there, and if so what does this mean for Evans? Will Fernandez see time there?
Will Fucito see significant time as a "Regular" as a the winger?
What is the DM situation. Will Ianni see time there as a "Backup"? What about Evans?
And, or course, there are the ongoing questions about who fits where on the depth chart. Is Estrada more than a "Reserve" (I list him here based on last season)? How will the Fullbacks shake out (specifically, will Tetteh be a "regular")?
breaking it down, position by position...
stregnth ranking: 5 points for STARTER, 4 for regular, 2 for backup, 1 for reserve
CF: 2 Regulars, 1 backup, 1 reserve:
Nkufo, Jaqua, White, Noonan
strength = 11
WF: 1 starter, 1 regular, 1 backup, 1 reserve
MONTERO, Fucito, Levesque, Noonan
strength = 12
Wings: 2 spots available; 1 starter, 2 regulars, 3 backups, 3 reserves
ZAKUANI, Fernandez, Friberg, Fucito, Levesque, Montano, Noonan, Estrada, Tetteh
strength = 22/2 = 11
CM: 2 regulars, 2 backups, 2 reserves
Evans, Friberg, Seamon, Fernandez, Caskey, Morris
strength = 14
DM: 1 starter, 3 backups
ALONSO, Ianni, Evans, Carrasco
strength = 11
LB: 1 starter, 2 backups, 1 reserve
GONZO, Wahl, Tetteh, Earls
strength = 10
CB: 2 spots available; 2 starters, i regular, 1 backup, 2 reserves
PARKE, HURTADO, Ianni, Baudet, Cruz, Graham, Wahl
strength = 19/2 = 9.5
RB: 1 starter, 1 backup, 1 reserve
RILEY, Scott, Attaway
strength = 8
GK: 1 starter, 1 backup, 2 reserves
KELLER, Boss, Meredith, Ford
strength = 9