On the eve of the Football League season we’ve produced a graphic for this season’s League 2 teams, to be followed by versions for the other English divisions, up to and including Premier League, in due course.
First of all we came up with a headline measure for continuity: of all the minutes played across a club’s squad in league matches last season, what percentage were accumulated by players who are still at the club? This gives us a more reliable measure than just counting players, as it will be dented more by a first team regular leaving than by the departure of a fringe player.
We also wanted to see what else we could get into our graphic without cluttering it and decided to look at to what extent each club relied on a core of players. We counted how many players had represented their clubs for at least 25% of possible league minutes, which felt like a sensible definition of a ‘first team’ player. Counting how many players met this criterion for each club gives us a useful measure of squad rotation and we can also count how many of these have remained at the club.
Finally we added in a measure of what percentage of the club’s total league minutes had been accumulated by their 11 most-used players last season, which gives us a different way of looking at how much or little each manager rotated their squad.
- What’s really interesting here is the teams relegated from League 1. 3 of the 4 teams that came down have jettisoned the bulk of their squads over the summer – with Bury’s team virtually unrecognisable – while the 4th, Hartlepool, have only moved on 4 of their first team regulars from last season.
- Despite surviving on goal difference last season, Dagenham & Redbridge’s line-up is the most similar to that of their previous campaign.
- Wimbledon and Portsmouth’s heavy personnel changes and use of short-term deals during 2012/13 are evident here – their most-used players racked up a significantly smaller proportion of the clubs’ pitch minutes and many have since moved on.