England national team boss Roy Hodgson admitted he had a bit of a goalkeeping dilemma to sort out when naming his squad for upcoming friendly matches against Chile and Germany.
His regular No.1, Manchester City shot-stopper Joe Hart, has recently been dropped to the bench by City boss Manuel Pellegrini, with a number of high-profile gaffes against Bayern Munich, Aston Villa and Chelsea seeing his understudy Costel Pantilimon starting City’s last three games.
Another big name that has been relegated to the bench is French winger Hatem Ben Arfa, who was dropped for Newcastle’s 2-0 win over a much fancied Chelsea. Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew bemoaned his star’s inconsistency and poor decision-making process, and admitted that he is yet to get the best balance between Ben Arfa and his team.
Unfortunately for the Frenchman, Pardew decided to drop him altogether. Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen, Chelsea’s player of the season for the last two seasons Juan Mata, Liverpool defender Daniel Agger…the list goes on and on.
In what is increasingly becoming a trend in football, more and more managers are dropping regular first-team players in a bid to get them back to their best form. In this case, it is left up to the player to earn his spot on the first-team roster once again. However one wonders how effective this method works vis-à-vis, win comparison to not hauling the player in question out of the starting lineup.
More often than not players look a shadow of their former selves when given the opportunity to impress once again. Thomas Vermaelen has never looked like regaining the form that saw him take the Premier League by storm a few seasons back and Juan Mata has only shown flashes of what he is capable of, with no goal and just the solitary assist in five league starts.
More so, history tells us that there are benefits to be reaped from leaving a misfiring star in the firing line so to speak.
One shudders to think what would have happened to David de Gea had former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson decided to drop him after his poor showing at the start of his United career cost Sir Alex’s men precious points.
Chelsea’s £50million-pound main man Fernando Torres has, in recent weeks, shown a semblance of his former self and this upturn in the player’s fortunes coincided with Chelsea’s perfect 6/6 record for the month of October.
The Premier League’s longest-serving manager, Arsene Wenger is known for many things, chief amongst which is his tendency to stick with a player and allow him time to work his way back to form.
No player in the famous red and white may have benefited from this more than one Aaron Ramsey. A horrific injury at the hands of Stoke City captain Ryan Shawcross had threatened to cut short Ramsey’s then fledgling career, but the Welshman was made of sterner stuff and did indeed make his return into his manager’s plans.
He hardly ever looked like getting back to his fluent best though, and this poor form led to many fans calling for him to be sold in the summer. The much maligned midfielder even famously received death threats on Twitter, but Aaron Ramsey’s career and form has never looked more alive than this season as he just cannot stop scoring!
His solitary goal at the Westfalenstadion Stadium against Borussia Dortmund turned out not only to be Arsenal’s winning goal, but has taken his goal tally up to 13 for club and country for the season.
These case studies would therefore suggest that maybe managers should not be so eager to haul big names out of their starting XI. With the World Cup looming large in the horizon as well, national team managers will find themselves in a dilemma as to if they should call up their disgraced stars or drop them altogether. England manager Roy Hodgson has already voiced his concern on the issue, saying:
“I would be a lot more concerned if Joe Hart never got his place back and if in the spring of next year when I have to select the 23 players he was a constant reserve.”
Joe Hart’s recent omission from the first-team picture at the Etihad will see his understudies Frasier Forster and Norwich’s John Ruddy get their chance to play for the Three Lions at the next international break, and one can only hope, for the player more than anything, that he can come through this better off then.
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