Friday, June 6, 2014

Graphic: How crazy were Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Cardiff City team selections?

It was obvious from early in his reign as Cardiff City manager that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was going to do things differently at Cardiff City.

His variegated selection strategy was perhaps the highlight of his five-month spell as a Premier League manager. Unfortunately for the club, this approach worked as well as one would expect and the club was relegated in twentieth position.

While former manager Malky Mackay managed to conjure some decent performances from his players, Solskjaer was on a hiding to nothing and it was perceived by many that his ever-changing player rotation did nothing to help that. But just how random were his team selections?

The graphic above shows every player used by Cardiff City over the course of the English Premier League season. The first twenty games denote Mackay's reign, where the portion after the dashed red line represents Solskjaer's time at the club. Each player's minutes are marked for each game.

The randomness with which Solskjaer selected his midfield is by far the most striking aspect of the chart. Whittingham in, Whittingham out. Kim Bo-Kyung moves from creative hub to also-ran. Aron Gunnarsson? Just plain forgotten about. Magnus Wolff Eikrem? Purchased with great fanfare, then seldom used.

The defence fairs little better, as Solskjaer vacillated between equally-ineffective lineups featuring one of a back four or a back three.

While still occasionally effective, throwing everything you can think of  at a problem and seeing what sticks is hardly a method that establish oneself as a problem-solver. Neither does it even inspire player confidence in management abilities - if the gov'nor can't stick to a system, how can he expect his charges to?

Should Solskjaer wish to avoid the Wrath of Tan next year, he needs to pick a system that works and persist with it.

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