Wolves blog: Kenny Jackett is the Championship's 'tinkerman'
There's one tally this season that is remarkably higher for Wolves than their two previous campaigns, writes Wolves blogger Graham Large.
Perform a Google search for the word 'Tinkerman' and one name will appear prominently. The manager who is currently sitting top of the Premier League.
In his Chelsea days, Claudio Ranieri was known as The Tinkerman, such was his predilection for rotating his line-up or experimenting with a new formation and style of play.
Yet since taking charge of Leicester, Ranieri has kept his line-up tinkering to a minimum and relied more on subtle changes to his team's teams shape and playing style, which have been the foundation of Leicester's remarkable success.
However, whatever Ranieri's penchants, Wolves boss Kenny Jackett could give him a run for his money in the tinkering stakes.
On Tuesday night, Connor Hunte became the 32nd player to make a league appearance for the club this season. That's right, thirty-two players, nearly three starting XIs in total, since the opening weekend at Blackburn through to Tuesday night's win against Bristol City. And that number could still climb.
There are currently only three teams in the Championship that have used more players than Wolves: Rotherham, Charlton and Fulham – all of which are struggling at the wrong end of the table.
In the contrast, the vast majority of the teams in promotion mix have all used less than 30 players, with Championship pace setters Burnley using just 23.
Last season's Championship winners Bournemouth used only 24 players, and the previous season's top two, Leicester and Burnley, fielded 23 apiece.
It suggests that managers know when they're on to something good. A settled line-up and a relatively tight-knit squad is a much safer bet than too many options that cause nothing other than the proverbial selection headaches.
Last season Wolves used 27 players in their first campaign back in the Championship, and the season prior – the 2013/14 League One winning campaign – 28 players contributed. But during the ill-fated 2012/13 season, 35 players featured for Wolves. That comes as no surprise given the fact Ståle Solbakken took a close look at most, if not all, of his squad and Dean Saunders did a lot of tinkering in a desperate, though albeit fruitless, bid to stave off relegation.
There is a definite trend. The more players they used, the less successful Wolves were. And here, perhaps, lies the paradox of the club's 2015/16 campaign.
Yes, the Wolves squad has undergone a dramatic overhaul over the last year, but we're now seven months into the season and Jackett is still struggling to identify his strongest side.
In fact, just three Wolves players have featured in more than 70 per cent of minutes played by the club in the Championship this season: Dominic Iorfa, Kevin McDonald and Danny Batth.
It's one thing to bemoan your luck by blaming injuries to key players, as Jackett has done with some cause, for the past few months, but that's no excuse. Players do get injured at inconvenient times, others lose form and some lack sharpness because they are not getting regular game time. It happens to all teams.
Jackett has also made quite a few baffling selection decisions in recent weeks, none more so than recent signing Joe Mason, who has only started four out of eight games since joining from Cardiff, despite netting three times.
The constant chopping and changing in midfield is also a likely factor of McDonald's turbulent form. Whilst some would argue that tinkering is the best way for a manager to find the right mix, others would prefer a settled XI with a lower rate of attrition.
If Jackett is to remain at Molineux past the end of the season then Wolves need to build on the renewed momentum from the wins over Derby and Bristol City, and here's hoping they can continue their resurgence with a win against Birmingham.
But if Kenny spends the rest of the season scratching around, trying to find his best formation and starting line-up, then I'm afraid the writing is on the wall.
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