Updated: Mar 3, 2021
We have had 33 different versions of a starting 11 this season (2020 to 2021) from 36 games.
Just say that again and out loud. We have had 33 different starting 11's this season. Wow!!!
Consistency and rhythm have been missing this year. Is there any wonder given the above stat?
Before I continue I must say that the stat is not as big as it looks. I'll explain later on that. It is big and it is needed in isolation to get the attention (even though it's not as big as it looks) but then when reviewing in more detail it does highlight a particular issue with team performance this season.
Only in 3 of our 36 games (8.3%) have we selected a team that has played before this season. (For info I'm not accounting for differing formations etc ... IE if a team of 11 played 4231 then the same players played 352 the following week this WOULD count as selecting the same team).
It's just looked at in terms of starting 11 so doesn't take into consideration any subs etc.
Three other points of note;
1) The amount of times we have selected the same 11 has been twice at the most. IE The above 3 times comes from 3 different teams that have been selected twice. There is no team of 11 that has been played 3 times or more this season.
2) On each occasion of the 3 teams to be played again it was in the game straight after. IE There wasn't a time we played a team of 11 and that same 11 was played in a game about a month later etc.
3) One of the most criticised team selections this year was the line up versus Ferencvaros and we played the exact same team the game after. Only 3 times have we played the same team in 36 games and 1 of them was for a game that fans were demanding a change. The irony eh!
These stats could be a reason to defend Neil Lennon and highlight the difficulties this year or they could be used to criticise and highlight the presence of indecisiveness in him this year. Or indeed this information may produce different insight.
My opinion is that it is a bit of both but concluding on the side that it highlights Neil Lennon's indecisiveness this season. (Something to comment on further another day).
On Sunday 2nd August 2020 we played against Hamilton at home for the first game of the season and our line up that day was;
- Fimpong, Jullien, Ajer and Taylor
- Brown and McGregor
- Forrest, Christie and Elyounoussi
It's hard to believe that 36 games on that group of 11 were never selected again this season as a starting 11.
The team selections that have been replicated are;
- as mentioned above the Ferencvaros team was played again the following game against Motherwell
- the team at Hampden versus Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup Semi was played again the following game at home to Sparta Prague, and
- the team at Motherwell away was played again the following game at Hibs away
Below is the full list of games and selected players;
I did say earlier that the number of 33 is not as big as it looks. This is because you only need the odd change here and there and it multiplies that potential variant. IE Have 3 forwards for 2 positions and 2 keepers and already you have 6 potential different team selections. Add in 3 centre backs for 2 places and it is 18 potential variants.
More to follow on;
- changes to formations
- changes to our front two partnerships
- dropping players and when we have dropped them
And when looking into those details it would highlight that 33 is far too big a number and has not been necessary this season (even accounting for the unusual times we have faced).
For a benchmark last season we had 42 different team selections. But that was from 53 matches and that works out at 21% of teams were played more than once (compared to 8% this year). There was also one team we played 4 times and one team we played 3 times (compared to none 3 or 4 times this year).
Also for benchmarking Rangers have changed their team 30 times in 37 games this year. They have also had a team that they have played 3 times. That 30 out of 37 means 19% of times the have played the same team again.
So 33 doesn't seem such a big number now but compare it;
- Celtic 2020/2021 - 8%
- Rangers 2020/2021 - 19%
- Celtic 2019/2020 - 21%
So Rangers this year (and ourselves last year) have selected the same team MORE than DOUBLE the amount of times we have.
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