Jose, look at the stats: Forget big squads, focus on low player turnover if you want to win

Making subs

October 4 – Club squad sizes are irrelevant when it comes to the Big 5 leagues, according to new research data that found that for the last 13 seasons big-5 league clubs fielded on average 27.5 players per season.

The research by the CIES Football Observatory looked at the seasons between 2005/06 and 2017/18 and the number of players fielded in domestic league games over a season and the percentage of minutes played by the 11 most fielded players per club.

The best results were achieved by clubs who found a stable line-up of players. “Seventeen of the twenty teams whose 11 most fielded footballers played for the least percentage of minutes relegated,” say the researchers.

“In most cases, player turnover is not the solution to the problems encountered. On the contrary, too many changes often lead to a further decrease in performance.”

Low player turnover generally means good results with the report authors pointing out Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2014/15 as the only team in the data that fielded less than 20 players in the season. They came third in the Bundesliga and reached the last 16 of the Europa League.

“The existence of a negative correlation between the number of players fielded and points per match confirms the relevance of sticking with a core group of footballers to optimise performance. The number of points per match achieved per team progressively goes down in parallel with the increase of players fielded. The big gap between clubs that employed less than 25 players (1.61 points per match) and those that employed more than 32 (1.00 points per match) confirm the detrimental effect of very high player turnover,” concludes the report.

And managers looking to save themselves in the January transfer window should think again, according to CIES. “

“While it is certainly easier to limit player turnover when results are satisfactory, this report provides evidence that too many changes in the starting 11 and over-activity in the January transfer window generally do not allow teams to improve their performances when results are poor. On the contrary, numerous changes tend to affect players’ confidence and aggravate the situation.”

See the full report at http://www.football-observatory.com/IMG/sites/mr/mr38/en/

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