3-4 year cycle

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3-4 year cycle

Post by Cjay »

Was going to put this in the transfer/squad thread but thought it was worth going in the main forum as its quite an interesting point for discussion i thought.

In football it is generally accepted teams have a cycle.

Great teams only last so long before changes have to be made. You can take longer to build them but for actual success 3/4 years is your lot.

It is a theory that has had academic papers written on it, it has been supported by managers such as Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola. And it is simply backed up by facts, great teams tend to tail off by the 3rd or 4th year.

Think about great teams of the past (especially high pressing teams).

Pep's Barcelona, 4 years, 3 league titles, 2 Champions league trophies, 13 trophies by the end of year 3, only won 1 in the final season.

Pep at Bayern, 3 years lots of trophies then leaves.

Johan Cruyff at Barcelona, 2 years building, 4 years of success and then tailed off.

Look at Jose Mourinho, he never spends more than 2 to 3 years at a club, Chelsea, Porto, Madrid, Inter.

Going further back Viktor Maslov, one of the innovators of the pressing system, won 3 back to back to back titles with Dinamo Kyiv in the mid 1960s, , nothing in the 4th season and sacked in the 5th.

The great Arrigo Sacchi's Milan team, 3 trophy laden seasons (9 trophies including two European Cups) nothing in the 4th and final one.

Legendary Hungarian coach Béla Guttmann once said "the 3rd year is fatal, if a manager stays at a club more than that his players tend to become bored and/or complacent and opponents start to work out counter-strategies".

Now of course that doesnt mean after season 3 or 4 everything has to change, many managers including the great Don Revie have gone long past the 4th season and had much success.

Jurgen Klopp is actually a really good example of having success past the 3rd or 4th season but then it catching up really quickly down the line. After 5 successful seasons at Mainz they were relegated in his 6th and he couldn't get them back up in his 7th and left. At Dortmund they peaked by the end of the 4 season, back to back league titles in season 3 and 4. They did get a Champions league runners up medal after that but league form had dropped and by the time Klopp left they were 7th. And look at Liverpool now, peaked really high in season 5 and are suffering for it in season 6.

So while it isnt written in stone its generally accepted that especially pressings sides peak by the 3rd or 4th season and it is then when you need to start making significant changes.

Either you start reinventing your side with new players or you change manager for fresh ideas or you do both.

Thats the hardest part and the thing that separates the most successful managers from the rest.

Being able to take apart a once successful side and rebuild it again takes real drive and skill.

Its why a lot of managers try to avoid it and leave after 3 or 4 or like Klopp just try to ignore it.

Which brings us to Leeds United.

Are we now at this point?

Not in a disrespectful way to our Championship squad but after 3 years of intense Bielsa ball have we reached the natural end of this great 3 year cycle?

History tells us as explained in this post that while its possible to go past year 3 or 4 it is a risky strategy and one you tend to pay for later.

Disclaimer
Just a post for discussion, not meant to attack Bielsa or the players just as something to discuss based on history.
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by Smudge3920 »

Some great research there Cj...and you are right, it is time to be building and adding now...the foundation is there Mes, Raph & KP, along with Struijk. How much more can we get out of the main squad?...I would say 2 more years for Ayling, Dallas & Rodrigo...I would like to think we have 3 years in Llorente & Koch, we do have some gems in the U23s...We are all nervous about Shack, Jack & Costa...Victor Orta has really got to be on his game now so we can move forward.
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3-4 year cycle

Post by Dutch Peacock »

Great insight. With that knowledge do you think we have to replace the coach then like Pep, Mourinho etc left after 3 or 4 successful years or do you think we can replace players and rebuilt the squad like Ferguson did a couple of times at Manchester United?
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by Cjay »

Dutch Peacock wrote: Tue Mar 09, 2021 8:50 pm Great insight. With that knowledge do you think we have to replace the coach then like Pep, Mourinho etc left after 3 or 4 successful years or do you think we can replace players and rebuilt the squad like Ferguson did a couple of times at Manchester United?
Thanks :)

I think we have to try replacing the players first ? See if we can do that and Bielsa can mould them to take us to the next level?

Ferguson as you say was brilliant at this, knowing when it was time to move players on and replace them.

I think the end is near for quite a few of the Championship side. Playing for Bielsa must be exhausting and they have been doing it for 3 years now and a lot of them have barely had any rest, playing every game when fit.

Cooper and Ayling will be 30 by September.
Dallas is 30 next April
Klich is already 30

I think based on what ive read, in no way meant as disrespectful, but the natural end for that group is arriving and if its true Bielsa wants 5 new players as suggested then the club are rightfully planning for that?

Clubs like Liverpool and Wolves are examples of what can happen if you dont start to evolve your side imo, you regress.
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by weasel »

If we take Ferguson as an example the thing he did was to replace his number 2 on a regular basis so that there were fresh ideas in training etc. He could be a little less hands on and the players wouldn't get into a comfort zone of training always being the same. People suggest Fergie rebuilt the side every few years but it wasn't really the case, he'd probably bring in 1 or 2 first teamers every season rather than complete overhaul. Players like Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville and others played through several 3 or 4 year cycles. It was always the case that 1 or 2 players, sometimes more, had started to decline or got too big for their boots etc. We have the same here with 3 or 4 players likely to leave, for varying reasons, and needing to be replaced along with a couple of positions still needing to be filled (AM and LB).

For all the 3 or 4 year cycles and teams mentioned I am sure there are many more that were successful over longer periods. MU being an example and prior to them Liverpool. Leeds whilst never full dominating (trophy wise) had nearly a decade at the top. Celtic and Rangers sides of the past and I am sure many other examples in foreign leagues. The key though is spotting when players need to be replaced and replacing them because some players will have reached their peak and be in decline. Wilko however tried to do that with Strachan when he brought in Rocastle as his replacement however Strachan had other ideas and kept Rocastle out so sometimes a player's desire is the most important thing.
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by HarryofOz »

At clubs like Real Madrid it's more like a three/four month cycle.

Interesting, I haven't the time or the inclination to go through every club in every league's history to see if there are regular examples of long lasting success.

Of course you have stand outs like Ferguson at Man Utd, Paisley and Shankly at Liverpool and Revie at Leeds.

There is also a question of - with all due respect to the Mighty Whites - if we fall into the same category as the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and others.

After all, in the current circumstances, we are not trying to maintain a three-trophy per season winning record. We are not starting from a high of great success that we have to maintain.

Bielsa has taken us from mid-table in the Championship (before his days) to the play-offs, to champions to mid-table in the Premier League. A step up each season, but not an elite success in terms of being at the top of the top league or picking up trophies in Europe.

So the next level of success is easier to achieve - challenging for a Europa Cup spot, and most fans would be happy if that took a couple of season to happen, and I'd imagine the owners would be too.

So I don't really see a comparison between us and the history of the clubs that you mentioned in your post. I think our situation is quite different - especially given what we've been through in the 15 or so years before Bielsa.

And the same with the players. I do agree that we need to bring in two or three key players, but the rest will be fine either continuing to form part of the starting team or mainly being squad players who's key role is come off the bench as fresh legs. None are so bad that we need to get rid of them desperately, though I've no doubt that there will be some departures.
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by Irish Ian »

Leeds arent any where near the high point of that cycle yet.
I believe we are about three transfer windows away from seeing the beginning of best that Bielsa can offer us. Next season the current batch of new signings will need to really come to grips with our style alongside the newer players who logic suggests wont take two sesaons to click.

After that with a marquee signing here and there backed up by a breakthrough player or two we should be close to winning something

Bielsa of course will need to allow himself the time to do it.
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by mothbanquet »

An interesting read, that. I get the impression also that being a manager is one thing but being a coach is another. Very rarely do you get both things in one package as you do with Bielsa. What impact (if any) this will have on this cycle remains to be seen but nonetheless it's a solid theory and the exceptions to it can be explained with further investigation.

No doubt it's something Bielsa himself is intimately familiar with, there's little in terms of footballing theory that escapes his notice.
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by Cjay »

Have done a bit more reading on specifically pressing teams.

Dutch icon Rinus Michels seems to be one of the rare exceptions to the rule whereby he was able to keep a steady stream of success with no downturn at Ajax for 6 years and little changein the players.

However Frank De Boer was able to win 4 titles in his first 4 years at Ajax but then nothing for the last 2 and Ajax didnt win another title for a further 3 years after that.

And another of the founding fathers of pressing football Austrian manager Ernst Happel again was hampered or stuck with the 4 season cycle, leaving Feyenoord after 4 years with decent success but then spent 6 years at Hamburger SV in Germany. Back to back league titles in his first 2 seasons and a European cup. Then 4 years of nothing apart from a German Cup in his last season with Hamburger dropping as low as 7th during his last 4 years and 4th on average.

I find this quite interesting :)

As others have said nobody has the time or inclination to go through every single pressing side in history but there is a definite pattern of coaches not staying past season 4 or struggling to maintain a positive curve past it?

Also Bielsa himself has never exceeded 3 seasons at a club. We hope he does for us of course but maybe he to has felt at times that after a few years the squads have nothing left to give?

Think it will be interesting to see how many changes he makes in the summer. If its more than 2 or 3 then maybe that is him acknowledging the start of a new cycle?

For me the phasing out of the Championship squad is the beginning of a new cycle so will be interesting to see how many are first 11 next season.

As a final point the great Real Madrid side that won 5 European Cups consecutively between 1955/1956 and 1959/1960 are again seemingly an exception to the rule.

But on closer inspection only 4 players made it through those 5 years and they only were able to win domestic titles in 2 of the first 3 seasons. So they did change players and tbf that Real Madrid side was basically a collectionof the best players in the world at the time.

Anyway thanks to those who joined in this discussion. :)
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by Cjay »

To clarify the main point of this thread was about whether its possible to maintain a positive upturn using largely the same players season on season (9 of the 14 players used vs West Ham were here in MB's first season).

If not at what point does that change.

That was what i was trying to get at (not the league titles and stuff that was just used as a measure).
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by weasel »

I would also suggest that the majority of players probably only have 3 or 4 seasons at their peak regardless of which club they are at - obviously exceptions like Messi and Ronaldo but even they had a peak time - Messi 2011-2015 saw 3 out of 4 seasons with him scoring 40+ goals and yet he didn't score above 40 any other years (the other season in that 4 year cycle saw the season where he played the fewest amount of games in his last 12 seasons so it would suggest injuries rather than poor performance). Ronaldo's 3 best seasons, goals wise, came in a 5 year spell. So I would suggest that for a club to have a 3 or 4 year spell of success they will probably have 7 or 8 players having their peak years at a similar time.

You also have the fact that when lesser clubs achieve unexpected success that they can lose their best players. Klopp's Dortmund for example kept losing their best players to Bayern who then, understandably, became the best team again.
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by Carrick Dave »

This has been an excellent read Cjay, thanks.

Where would this leave the likes of Pep and Klopp this season then? They must both be at similar points in the cycle themselves, but I believe one may have thrown a lot more cash at it player-wise than the other over 3/4 years - is that reflected in the current disparity in form? Am I wrong in my assumption (I haven't looked)?
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by weasel »

Carrick Dave wrote: Wed Mar 10, 2021 9:24 pm This has been an excellent read Cjay, thanks.

Where would this leave the likes of Pep and Klopp this season then? They must both be at similar points in the cycle themselves, but I believe one may have thrown a lot more cash at it player-wise than the other over 3/4 years - is that reflected in the current disparity in form? Am I wrong in my assumption (I haven't looked)?
A lot of people use the money spent by City as a reason to bash them but other clubs have spent more in recent years than them. City though have generally bought more sensibly and not wasted money (like MU for example have done). In Pep they have a coach, similar to Bielsa, who can get the best out of players rather than simply discard them and as such most players values at City have probably risen (barring those that have seen their value drop due to their advancing age) whereas at other clubs the player values have generally dropped.
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by Cjay »

Not a look at me exercise but may be time for a bump now imo as a point of discussion.

Given our struggles, given the struggles of all of the Championship stalwarts really.

Either fitness or form they have all suffered significant dips.

Was their perhaps more to this than at first seemed clear maybe?
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by VinnysTattoo »

My issue with Bielsa at present is that he has a fixed number of players in a two/three year cycle. This is evidenced by the inclusion of Forshaw who would have been in his original “18”. He has immediately leap frogged Bate and more worryingly was a substitute for a striker.

Surely a manager cannot just drawer from the same pool indefinitely as it seems at the present. IMO, this will be the downfall of Bielsa.

Klich,Roberts,Forshaw,Cooper,Ayling and Dallas are not the future of a Premiership side. They are now at the end of their cycle in this team and highlight the issue we have at the moment. The managers pool of 18 needs changing, because it has gone stagnant.
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by SG90 »

Unfortunately Bielsa just wants yes men in his 18, regardless of their ability. Any talented player who slightly disagreed was shown the door, Pablo, Pontus, Bogusz, Saiz. We better pray he doesn't fall out with Raph, but I can see it coming.
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by Cjay »

From what I have seen this season I would say that this is much more relevant than maybe thought.

Harrison, Dallas, Klich, KP, Bamford, Cooper, Ayling have all experienced downturns in form, in some cases significant downturns.

Why? I don't know but perhaps they simply can't do BielsaBall physically anymore?

Perhaps they can't do it mentally

Perhaps they simply have reached their ceiling and are unable to maintain those standards technically.

Physically injuries are happening more.

I just think that the core Championship team are worn out physically and mentally and simply can't keep the standards up anymore.

And I think that what we are now seeing is the consequences of having a manager and DOF with no longterm experience in charge.

Neither Orta nor Bielsa have ever been in charge of rebuilding and rejuvenating a side and both were seemingly reluctant to do so this summer just gone.

They believed that it wasn't necessary.

A more experienced team would have seen these issues imo and unfortunately we are now paying for this mistake.
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by BGwhite »

The team looked tired in the first game, I can only assume that they are not as fit as they were last season which is a major part of our game. It is noticeable that we aren't out running or pressing our opponents as much - infact it seems that opponents are doing exactly that to nullify us . We can't handle the high press against us and from then on it's a struggle because we don't possess sufficient quality unless we can get the ball to Rapha. Maybe we are burnt out after all.

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Re: 3-4 year cycle

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It's all about quality in the end, running and stamina and heart will only get thee so far, the end has come for some of those players who got us promotion, Bielsa is far too loyal to them, too loyal and stubborn to realise his own mistakes, he don't know when to let go, you simply cannot carry on competing in the big boys league with some of the players we have, they've given their all, they've been tremendous, they will go down in United folklore, but, they've now been found out and will ultimately take us back down where they fought so valiantly to get us out of.
Not their fault but the managers and owners.
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Re: 3-4 year cycle

Post by VinnysTattoo »

mentalcase wrote: Sun Oct 17, 2021 8:35 pm It's all about quality in the end, running and stamina and heart will only get thee so far, the end has come for some of those players who got us promotion, Bielsa is far too loyal to them, too loyal and stubborn to realise his own mistakes, he don't know when to let go, you simply cannot carry on competing in the big boys league with some of the players we have, they've given their all, they've been tremendous, they will go down in United folklore, but, they've now been found out and will ultimately take us back down where they fought so valiantly to get us out of.
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Yep, spot on

I would also add that the focus seems to have been strengthening the U23’s under the mistaken belief those players could go again.
We had the euphoria from the promotion last season plus the fact that most teams weren’t ready for our style of play.
That euphoria has now lapsed and Premiership managers have the knowledge and the squads to nullify our methods.

For all his brilliance Bielsa has misjudged badly. With one or two exceptions his “18” is not Premiership quality and will take a minor miracle to change quickly. I know we cannot throw loads of money at the issue,but Paphinha aside,what we have bought have been average at best.
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