Squad usage: League 2, 5 Oct 2017

Today I’m switching another graphic from last season back on. This one looks at how each club has used their squad, and in addition to individual graphics for every team I’ve also created a summary of the division as a whole.

It’s sorted by how many different players each club has used (with the number who started a match used as a tie-breaker), but also shows the average number of changes to their starting XI, the number of minutes played by their most-used combination of players so far and how many players have been ever-present. This all applies to league matches only.

Colchester have used the most players this season, with 26 turning out for them, although only 21 have started a game compared with the 25 different members of Port Vale‘s starting line-ups so far. Vale are also one of two clubs – the other being Morecambe – who haven’t yet kept a single combination of players on the pitch for 90 minutes.

At the other end of this extreme are Exeter, who have seen the same 11 players rack up a combined 465 minutes together already and are also one of two clubs with four ever-presents (the other being Luton). The Grecians also have the lowest level of squad rotation, averaging just one change to their starting line-up per game, contrasting sharply to Vale’s 3.1.

Fellow promotion chasers Notts County have relied on the smallest group of players so far, with just 18 turning out in total, although they’ve handed starts to 17 of them which is one more than Crewe.


What I’ve done for every club below is to plot out their league campaign minute-by-minute and then shade in a bar for each player showing when they were on the pitch. The players’ bars are then laid out next to each other, in descending order of how long each spent on the pitch this season (also shown as a percentage of the club’s total playing minutes), to allow for comparisons.

I’ve also factored in a calculation of what each club’s most-used combination of 11 players was and shaded the minutes that they were on the pitch together using a darker colour. At the top I’ve also included the total number of minutes that they featured alongside each other, which is often surprisingly low.

To make reading across the graphics easier, I’ve drawn vertical lines separating each match and each month, plus horizontal ones between each player’s row and beneath the 11 most-used players.

Club-by-club graphics

Here are a few quick observations to give you the idea. Exeter’s sequence of six matches where the same 11 players start is clearly visible, with the introductions of Jayden Stockley and Hiram Boateng from the bench late on also a pretty established pattern in the first half of September. We can see a similar trend at Accrington and Cambridge, while Mark Robins looks to have hit upon his preferred combination relatively recently.