In his last post, Jacques posed an interesting question:
Is it acceptable/effective to select experienced players with incomplete skill sets and little tactical malleability? Or, is the system Klinsmann seeks to implement better served by selecting players with less pedigree but with skill sets better suited to succeed in a possession based system?
Experience or Quality?
Clearly it’s got to be quality right? I mean experience can be gained. But technical and tactical ability?
Edu is Edu.
Altidore is Altidore.
Bocanegra is Bocanegra.
Or are they?
The answer lies with the coaching staff’s capacity to assess a player’s malleability. If I were them, my initial call-ups for these friendlies would have pretty much been the same. That is, primarily the experienced guys.
This serves two purposes:
1) You can see these guys up close and personal and evaluate whether they are capable of executing a style of play they have never been taught. People can’t comprehend this, but players have a tactical ceiling. A limit to their tactical capacity while in the pressure cooker of a game. Some players can adapt to a new philosophy and execute, while others simply can not.
From the outside, the well-trained eye can do a decent job of placing players into “tactical buckets”. That is to say; “this player is capable of this, and not capable of that”. But you can never be sure until you have them under your instruction. That is why even the greatest of coaches make player selection blunders in the transfer market.
So coming back full circle, this is a reason why I would initially call most of the existing experienced players from the pool to these first camps. From there we keep those that can adapt and slowly phase out those that can’t, and phase in those young talents we believe can.
Hopefully this is what Klinsmann is doing and I choose to believe it is. Patience is in order.
2) The other reason is political. As much as we’d like to believe this doesn’t or shouldn’t influence coaching decisions, it does; and it is inescapable unless you’re a proven international badass like a Mourinho (hmmm … and even then).
Not in the sense of doing favors, but more for media control. This is as much a coach’s responsibility as is getting W’s. The federations that hire them need a net positive endorsement from the media/fanbase. Anything to the contrary is bad business.
So again, Klinsmann can’t just come in and immediately blow up the player pool. Altidore you’re toast! Bocanegra you’re toast! Edu and Bradley you’re toast!
You just can’t do it without some upheaval. Unless you have magnificent and consistent results from the get go, you’ll be questioned throughout your entire tenure. Could you imagine? People will think you’re an idiot!
So … best give these players a chance, evaluate them as described in point #1 AND let the unfit play themselves off the team in front of the entire public. That way there is little question they were not a match for this next chapter.
I hope and choose to believe this is what Klinsmann is doing. Patience is in order.