When David Turnbull came on yesterday I thought “How long before we get the predictable response from the press; the idea that now, somehow, Ange will have a difficult task deciding on his best eleven, and how will he keep all these guys happy?”
That this is a wholly simplistic view of the squad game will probably not even dawn on some of them. For others, they will use it only as a stick to beat us with, a means of undermining the manager, a way of stoking disharmony where none exists.
And none of it will succeed.
Ange knows his business too well.
Once his squad is fully fit he will be able to do what so few managers in the modern game get to; tailor the starting eleven to the task at hand.
Ange knows that a squad is a tool-box … sometimes you need a screwdriver and sometimes you need a wrench. Sometimes blunt force is all that will get a job done, and so for that you pick up a hammer. That’s not a dilemma for a good manager.
This nonsense has stalked Ange since he first took over; “Oh doesn’t he know his best eleven yet?” as if that wasn’t a child-like question from someone who’s clearly never studied professional sports before.
There is no such thing as a “best eleven” any longer, not in the way they mean it.
The “best eleven” changes from circumstance to circumstance.
The players who will get you through a home game against Dundee might not be the same ones who you’d call on for a tricky away battle at Tynecastle and if you watch us this season, it’s part of the reason for our success.
That’s why I scoff at the notion that there are “guaranteed starters”.
There might be, but perhaps not in the way that the media thinks.
Isn’t it interesting, too, that when Ange pointed out on Monday night that he feels he has the talent to field two different squads now that none of the hacks bothered to pick up on it or to suggest that this is a sign of strength? They did this earlier in the season over at Ibrox; I did a piece about it at the time in which I pointed out that we could do the same.
But with us, squad strength is a negative. With us, it leads to questions about the manager can possibly please so many players when every week leaves a dozen of them benched, or worse. But since the dawn of football, this is what bosses have had to do.
Wait and see though. For Ange it will be labelled a “problem” when in fact this is the kind of decision every manager in the game would love to have to make.