The great trick of squad rotation is to disguise the fact of it. Tottenham Hotspur made seven changes to their team for the FA Cup game against Coventry City on Saturday, but no one could have said they were devaluing the competition. Gareth Bale, who scored once, and Clint Dempsey, who scored twice, led the attack for Spurs while Scott Parker and Benoît Assou-Ekotto returned from injury.
The 3-0 result was Spurs' fourth consecutive win amid a growing sense that Andre Villas-Boas has the resources to mount a serious challenge across three competitions this season. His assistant, Steffen Freund, admitted the discussions on team selection barely involved any weakening at all.
"That's why we had a conversation the coaching staff together: 'Can we change positions for a FA Cup game?'," Freund said afterwards.
"And we said together, 'yes we can do that'. We have team spirit, that's the most important thing, the lads are really positive and when you change the starting XI seven times and you perform like this first half then you have to be proud about the team."
As well as results are going, Freund does not anticipate any complacency – anyone whose level drops would be out of the team. "That's no problem," Freund said, "when you have a strong squad with 27 really good players then there is pressure inside the team."
This squad will only get stronger next year with the arrival of Lewis Holtby from Schalke. Freund was delighted with the transfer. "He can play behind the striker, on the wings, he can play centre of midfield and he already has a lot of experience," Freund said.
"He played for Schalke in the Champions League, and they are playing well. He has been part of the starting line-up for the past year and a half.
"I know him really well as I worked for the German FA and he is captain of the Under-21s and I know he is a really good character, he loves the Premiership, he loves England, and his father is English."
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