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Tinkermen: Ranking the five managers to make most changes to starting XI’s in a Premier League season

Long gone are the days when football managers relied on a core XI of players, with the most successful sides arguably those with the deepest squads in the modern Premier League.

The biggest sides in the division are often stockpiled with elite talent but that can prove problematic for Premier League managers, often chopping and changing their line ups to ensure both freshness and morale are maintained.

We’ve decided to look back at the division’s most notorious ‘Tinkermen’ of all-time, ranking the five managers to make the most changes to their starting line up in a Premier League season:

Jurgen Klopp – 135 changes (2017/18)

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Jurgen Klopp’s second full season as Liverpool manager saw the German regularly rotate his options, utilising 27 different players throughout the Premier League season and making 135 changes to his starting line-up.

Goalkeepers Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius played exactly half of the Reds’ league fixtures each, with the goalkeeping position amongst those most uncertain with neither able to nail down a regular place.

Liverpool’s memorable run through to the Champions League final also saw rotation necessary during the final stages of the season, Roberto Firmino the least rotated of Klopp’s options – missing just one Premier League fixture all season.

Sir Alex Ferguson – 135 changes (2012/13)

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Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season in charge saw Manchester United claim a record-extending 20th top flight title, despite the side being amongst the most rotated in Premier League history.

Somewhat remarkably, only three players in the squad made more than 30 league starts during the campaign, leading scorer Robin van Persie (35), Michael Carrick and Patrice Evra (34) the most selected players for Ferguson’s title-winners.

United were crowned as Premier League champions with four games to spare, allowing Ferguson even greater room for rotation as the title celebrations began early.

Steve McClaren – 136 changes (2005/06)

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Sitting just ahead of Ferguson is former assistant Steve McClaren, who made 136 changes to his Middlesbrough side during an unforgettable 2005/06 season for the North East outfit.

The season may have ended without silverware but the Teesiders enjoyed memorable runs in cup competitions, reaching the last four of the FA Cup and embarking on a dramatic run to the UEFA Cup final.

The success of McClaren’s side in Europe saw the future England boss rotate his side heavily in domestic competition as they finished a lowly 14th in the Premier League, their focus on a UEFA Cup venture that included sensational comeback victories over Basel and Steaua Bucharest to reach a final date with Sevilla.

Sir Alex Ferguson – 140 changes (2008/09)

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Another inclusion for Ferguson and another title-winning season for the Manchester United legend, the Scot tinkering with his side as they secured a third consecutive Premier League crown.

Rotation was necessary for the Red Devils who played a mammoth 65 games in all competitions throughout the campaign, their commitments including Community Shield, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup duty in addition to winning the League Cup and reaching a second successive Champions League final.

Ferguson fielded 28 different players in his starting line ups for Premier League fixtures, including the emergence of teenager Federico Macheda whose crucial goals helped United pip Liverpool to the title.

Pep Guardiola – 143 changes (2019/20)

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Despite there still being a game left to play, Pep Guardiola has already set a new record for most starting XI changes in a single league season, the Manchester City manager making 143 changes to become the Premier League’s ultimate Tinkerman™.

Guardiola possesses the biggest wealth of options available in English football with the Premier League’s most expensively assembled squad at his disposal, City arguably capable of fielding two XI’s capable of challenging at the top end of the division.

The Spaniard has, however, struggled to find his best side this season with defence a notable concern, and will perhaps hope for a more settled outfit as City bid to reclaim the Premier League title next season.

Read – Champions League, Europa League and Relegation – The Premier League’s final day permutations

Read Also – The definitive list of the 15 most iconic football jerseys of the nineties

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