Consistency is key to top flight football success

Fresh from fielding a virtual second string XI in the weekend’s defeat to Brazil, many pundits and fans were left wondering if England has the squad to triumph in South Africa.

But Professor Alan Nevill, of the University of Wolverhampton’s School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, has revealed that the key to success lies in picking an unchanged side – something that Capello was unable to do in the 1-0 defeat in Dohar.

His new research shows that the most successful teams over the past 40 years have been those where managers have made the fewest changes during a season.

Yet despite this, it is getting increasingly more difficult for managers to pick unchanged sides, with England and Chelsea star Frank Lampard one of the few top flight players to have represented their club in all games throughout an entire season (2005-2006).

Professor Nevill said the main reason why managers no longer picked the same side – despite proof that it is the most successful strategy – was most likely to be the increasing demands of the modern game.

“There are a number of explanations why managers no longer pick the same teams,” he said.

“The most likely one is that the demands of the modern game and increase in tempo mean it is becoming physically more demanding with much greater risks of injury.”

Other factors include an increase in the number of red and yellow cards leading to player suspensions.

Two managers who may be interested in the findings are Rafa Benitez at Liverpool, who famously went 99 matches fielding a different side or Claudio Ranieri who lived up to his ‘Tinkerman’ nickname by constantly changing his team while at Chelsea.

Professor Nevill carried out the research with Adam Watts, from the University’s School of Applied Sciences. Their paper, Does Selecting a Consistent Team Lead to Greater Success in Professional Soccer, has recently been published.

Further information

For more information or a copy of the research paper please contact Emma Kilvert in the Media Relations Office on 01902 322003.

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