Guardiola’s tinkering has got to stop

If the key to winning is a settled team, then Manchester City stand absolutely no chance of taking the Premier League title this season.

According to statistics compiled after 14 games, City’s Pep Guardiola has made a whopping 46 changes to his line-up so far this season, the highest of any coach in the league.

The stats, which represent each time a player from the starting XI in the previous league game has been replaced, do not make good reading for the Spaniard.

Fourth-placed City may be top of that particular table, but looking at the names around them seems to indicate that it is not a good place to be and that chopping and changing is most definitely not a winning formula.

Look below them and the next three names in the table are Swansea (34), Sunderland (33) and West Ham (32), while Pep’s cross-city rival Jose Mourinho lies fifth in the number of squad changes with 31.

Not really validation that change is good!

One could argue that City’s star squad and participation in Europe necessitates the resting and rotating of players and that their reserve players are of high enough quality for the changes not to have much of an effect.

But look at the other end of the tinkering table and you will see, league leaders Chelsea, have made just eight changes in their 14 league games.

It took Antonio Conte a while to find the winning formula, but once he did he stuck with it. The appearance of Cesc Fabregas for the injured Nemanja Matic on Saturday was the first change Conte had made in eight games, which also happens to coincide with the Blues’ eight-match winning streak that has rocketed them to the top of the table.

A settled first XI was also key to Leicester’s surprise title victory last season as boss Claudio Ranieri, who earned the nickname the ‘Tinkerman’ during his spell with Chelsea, quit his tinkering and stuck with the same eleven players for more than 80 percent of Leicester’s games.

While it’s true that City have had their fair share of injuries, Guardiola has still made dozens of unforced changes to his line-up and this looks set to continue following Saturday’s double sending off that ironically robs him of his only ever-present starter in Fernandinho.

Apparently, Pep still does not seem to know what is his best starting line-up, a worrying notion so far into the season.

All the evidence suggests that the next change Guardiola needs to make is to stop making unnecessary changes.

Richard Hazeldine

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