Football is a learning business. If you can’t work and adapt, you’ll fall behind. This goes for entire teams as well as individual players.
Some teams have bad tropes surrounding them that they always get picked on for when they don’t play well, and some teams move on from them and make themselves better.
Here are 4 teams that have learned their lesson.
1. Arsenal: Actually Spending Money
Before the 2013/14 season, Arsenal (particularly Arsene Wenger) were criticised for not spending the levels of money as other teams around them and subsequently not progressing as a club.
The quality of the players they have brought in since then has shown a significant chance. Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Granit Xhaka and Alexandre Lacazette are all signs that this is a club that wants to be challenging at the top of Europe’s elite league.
That is, if they can qualify for it…
2. Manchester United: Spending Money Wisely Again
In the period after Sir Alex Ferguson but before Mourinho, Manchester United’s struggles and dip in league positions lay in the very obvious fact that they were panicking.
Ferguson’s wisdom had gone and they were desperately trying to continue the trends he had set in his tenure. But with poor buys such as Angel Di Maria, Memphis Depay and Wilfried Zaha all not paying off despite huge fees, they were failing.
But with Mourinho that tactfulness in the transfer market seems to have come back in some respects, with Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic being stand out starters for United this season.
3. England: No More Sentimental Call-Ups
One aspect of England’s squad selection in recent years has been that certain players were
almost guaranteed a slot in the squad regardless of their club form, a prime example would be Jack Wilshere’s inclusion in the Euro 2016 squad after only playing around 100 minutes of football that season.
Gareth Southgate has wholeheartedly changed this around, with call-ups merited on the players’ form and not their reputation. The best part is that he’s sticking to his guns even when the team is plagued by injuries.
Long may it continue.
4. Barcelona: Letting Go of Guardiola
Pep Guardiola turned Barcelona into the real powerhouse that they were in the late 2000’s, but when he left to join Bayern Munich in 2013, they slumped down and let rivals Real Madrid take the spotlight for a while.
The main reason for this is they slowly became unable to replicate the tika-taka football that made them so dominant.
This season, they have started to distance themselves away from that, with a more traditional 4-4-2 formation used for large chunks of the season, whilst still retaining their confidence in passing.