The Midfield Carousel
Change gets headlines, but stability is what lasts. Companies with stable boards tend to perform well year after year, while those with a revolving door in the boardroom are undoubtedly in some state of crisis. The same applies to sports teams. Stability around the trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker netted the San Antonio Spurs five championships and a practically unheard-of streak of 21 consecutive playoff appearances with at least one of the three on the team. Likewise, stability is crucial in soccer, since communication and chemistry are key. So why is a plethora of major teams undergoing seismic changes in their midfield?
There are transfer rumors swirling about Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen, Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and Barcelona’s Phillipe Coutinho, three major midfield players at three prominent European clubs. Also, the retirements of longtime Bayern Munich midfielders Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, and the supposed departure of Juventus attacking midfielder Paulo Dybala, have shaken up those teams. Undoubtedly, the prospect of all this movement is exciting, but could it backfire for the teams in question?
First, the one team that could not do anything to avoid these changes was Bayern Munich, thanks to the retirements of two club greats. It will be difficult to recover from these losses, but Bayern is as well-equipped as anyone to return to full strength quickly. As for the rest of the clubs, these rumors of movement signal not only possible changes in various teams’ engine rooms, but also reveals the negative culture of the teams’ managements, who may not have been able to get along with the players.
Regardless of what happens with each of these stories, one of two things will happen: Either the players in question will move on and be confronted with the prospect of adjusting to new teammates, new coaches and new tactics while their former teams are left to deal with the aftermath, or they stay and become disillusioned with their current employers until they force an exit.