There are times in football when certain opinions are formed without having concrete evidence to support them – except statistics which we all know can often be misleading. One such observation which comes to mind is the possibility that managers, including Sir Alex Ferguson, may have taken the practice of squad rotation a little too far resulting in a lack of team cohesion. Manchester United has certainly shown plenty of consistency in the Premier League, suffering just a single defeat, but there can be little argument that many of those performances have left much to be desired.
Leaving aside cup ties where the level of opposition can vary so much, as shown by drawing Liverpool in the FA Cup third round and Crawley in the fifth, Ferguson has used 29 players in 26 League matches so far this season. Now compare that with just 20 in 42 games during the title winning 1992-93 campaign. What’s more telling is that six of those were in fewer than five starting line ups leaving 14 to form the core base of the side.
Nor was that a one off exception. In 42 matches the following season when United retained the title, a total of 23 players were used but significantly, seven only made the starting team once while another two came on as subs. Again, just 14 formed the basis of the team.
There can be no denying that rotating the team is a must in the modern game. Statistics cannot be the only measure because injuries, tactical plans and other factors all come into play. The question is whether Ferguson, like many other managers, has been overusing it.
It’s also worth noting that in their 23 La Liga matches this season, Barcelona only had 12 players who have reached double figures in the starting line up. Does that tell you something?
Do you believe that managers are overusing squad rotation?