June 7 – The coaching mantra of not changing a winning team has been questioned increasingly in recent seasons as increased numbers of fixtures and pressure on players has seen many managers complain of not having large enough squads to compete in all competitions.
Research by the CIES Football Industry across 27 leagues in Europe suggests that teams with the lowest turnover of players are likely to have the most success. The data looked at matches played in the league only.
Premier League winners Chelsea was the top club in Europe for keeping its 11 most used player on the pitch – at 85.5%. Spurs (in 11th spot with 80.1% and second in the PL) and Liverpool (equal 33rd with 77.8% and fourth in the PL) also seem to point towards the importance of stability in team selection for league performance.
In contrast Manchester United were placed in the bottom 50 of teams – their 11 most fielded players averaged 62.8%. However, in contrast to Chelsea, Manchester United played in European competition making it to the final of the Europa Cup with all the travel and competitive demands that loads on players. The implication is that they overly prioritised the Europa Cup to ensure Champions League qualification and in doing so sacrificed league position – Man Utd finished sixth in the Premier League.
The CIES report authors point to the data showing many “Champions League participants are part of the 50 clubs in which the 11 most fielded footballers played for the highest percentage of minutes: Tottenham, Napoli, Sporting Clube de Portugal, Monaco and Atlético Madrid. Europa League finalist Ajax also features in the list. This finding shows that it is possible to be successful both at domestic and European level without high turnover rates.”
They conclude that “more stability is probably needed to sustainably improve results.”
Source: CIES Football Observatory
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