"This, you see, is black. And that, well, that's white. So..." - Ian Walton
Rafa Benitez's squad rotation policy came under criticism after Chelsea's dreadful home loss to Queens Park Rangers who are currently at the bottom of the league table. So as expected, questions regarding this very topic were raised during the press conference* ahead of the Southampton game. Here's how the interim manager responded [straight from chelseafc.com]:
We were rotating the team and winning games and everybody was praising the decisions. You cannot be criticised and praised for the same thing. We were rotating players because we were playing so many games. It was good because we had more players and we were using the squad. We are professional, we know how our players are and we trust the players.
According to Benitez, there are exactly two positions one can take up when it comes to squad rotation: you are either for it or against it. It follows then that you can't say "I hate rotation" one day and get a "I <3 Rotation" tattoo on your chest the next day. And as very, very old Greek dudes have decided many, many years ago, this is perfectly logical. So to any of you simpletons out there who broke the law of non-contradiction concerning squad rotation, Benitez can justifiably says: "BAZINGA!!!!"
Yet the Spaniard's response failed to address more nuanced criticisms such as one posed by Stephen yesterday. The kind of critique that recognizes the need for, and importance of, squad rotation (DUH!) but points out there are better and smarter ways to go about rotating the team (e.g. the likes of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Ashley Cole could have played and be rested during the upcoming less-important-than-finishing-fourth-in-the-league cup games). There is, after all, a
bid big difference between condemning the very idea of squad rotation and arguing rotation could have been carried out more effectively.
Perhaps Benitez was treating this as a simple, black-and-white issue because of a naively posed question (see how he went on to explain how Chelsea have to play so many games in so little time, which, of course, we all know), but those of us who are making more nuanced, detailed inquiries about his rotation policy are definitely left unsatisfied by his answers. Ball is positively back in your court, Rafa!
* In this same press conference, Benitez informed us that Demba Ba is a good player (really?), John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses are available for the Southampton game (YAY!), Petr Cech is out for another two or three weeks (sads) and John Terry is training but doubtful (okay).