In the Premier League this season, the majority favourites seem to be Chelsea. The reasons for this lie mainly in their recruitment and also in the quality of the manager. Looking closely at the new players and the manager who has asked for them pundits have begun to conclude that this side resembles something of a ‘Mourinho team’. This interested me and got me thinking about the subtle differences in approach to the recruitment and ultimately team building that have been going on at other clubs in the Premier league recently.
Manchester City’s approach under coach Pellegrini has settled down recently and has become to recruit specific players for his 4-4-2 system. It is somewhat of a Mourinho style approach in that he opts to pick players on their technical and physical characteristics to make them fit into his tactical system. But before his arrival, the club was building and catching up to big clubs. Its’ approach was therefore a blend of buying the most sought after players on the market both domestically and internationally, and also recruiting promising young talent again domestically and internationally. Now the club have started to enjoy success and regulations are coming into play their recruitment policy is a lot clearer.
The other end of the scale is the approach at Tottenham, where the transfer plans have tended to always be underpinned by managerial uncertainty and thus an ever changing philosophy thanks in part to the chairman’s active involvement behind the scenes. Last season the effects of this approach were magnified by a need to spend money after a significant departure and a newly formed organisational relationship structure with a chairmain, director of football, manager chain of command. The relative inexperience, or arguably lack of authority the manager Andre Villas Boas, was given and commanded seemingly saw the chairman favouring the director of football’s word over the managers’. This crucial detail, prioritising young talent and resale value in the market over the technical and physical profile of players the manager wanted in line with his philosophy was a major reason for such instability at Spurs, more so than other years.
Now at Chelsea, similar to City the recruitment has begun to take a clearer shape and it is one shaped by the managers’ requirements. There are still signings made with the future in mind but ultimately the incomings this season that strengthen the starting XI are clearly comparable to the technical and physical profiles of past players that the manager has enjoyed success with. It thus suggests that the club is pulling in one direction to put together its team and squad by giving the manager what he wants.
It comes back to the argument of teambuilding; is it about assembling the best players together and fitting them to a system or assembling the most appropriate players together and fitting them to the best system? Both have worked in the past with Real Madrid perhaps the leading example of the former approach with their best player (‘galactico’) approach. However the latter approach is widely acknowledged as the most effective and efficient, spending and player turnover wise and is more harmonious all the way through the club.