Most Common Starting XI for Every Premier League Season

Mr Smith

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Edit: So in the wake of the football-less hell we find ourselves in, I thought it was long past time I updated this. I posted this thread back in 2016 to try and produce a rough representation of how our squad has shifted and evolved over the years. I've now updated it up to 2019, and also added in the contributions from others (as seen below, I originally started with the 2007/08 season which was the first that I can honestly say I saw most of). Feel free to suggest additions/adjustments!

OK so I apologise in advance if this thread has been done before, but it's been bumping around my head for a while that it'd be great to have on paper a picture of what our team has looked like from season to season. Now I don't think this should be restricted to which players had the most appearances each season, because that would be a bit boring. Rather, I'd like to use it to paint a picture of the team as a whole for most games. For example, in the 08/09 season, I've noted Giggs/Park on the left, because they both had periods of the season where they were first team choices, especially in big games. I'm quite young myself and my memory doesn't run too far back past the 07/08 season, so I'm looking forward to the rest of the Cafe filling in the blanks for me, but I'm going to get things underway.

05/06 season:

------------------------Edwin Van Der Sar

Gary Neville----Rio Ferdinand----Wes Brown-----Mikael Silvestre

Cristiano Ronaldo------John O'Shea/Darren Fletcher-----Ryan Giggs-------Ji Sung Park

----------------Ruud Van Nistelrooy-------------------Wayne Rooney


06/07 season:

------------------------Edwin Van Der Sar

Gary Neville----Rio Ferdiand----Nemanja Vidic----Gabriel Heinze

-------------------Paul Scholes--------------Michael Carrick

Cristiano Ronaldo------------------------------------------Ryan Giggs

---------------------Wayne Rooney---------Louis Saha-



07/08 season:

-------------------------------Edwin Van-Der-Sar

Wes Brown----Rio Ferdinand------Nemanja Vidic-----Patrice Evra


Michael Carrick--------Paul Scholes/Anderson

Cristiano Ronaldo-------------------------------------------Ryan Giggs

-----------------Carlos Tevez------------Wayne Rooney

08/09 season:

----------------------------Edwin Van-Der-Sar

John O'Shea------Rio Ferdinand-----Nemanja Vidic-----------Patrice Evra


----------------Michael Carrick-------------Darren Fletcher

Cristiano Ronaldo------------------------------------Ryan Giggs/Ji-Sung Park

-----------------Wayne Rooney---------Dimitar Berbatov

09/10 season:

------------------------Edwin Van-Der-Sar

John O'Shea------Johnny Evans------Nemanja Vidic------Patrice Evra


Antonio Valencia-----Darren Fletcher-----Paul Scholes/Michael Carrick----Nani

-----------------------Wayne Rooney-------------Dimitar Berbatov


2010/11 season:

----------------------------Edwin Van-Der-Sar

Rafael------Rio Ferdinand---------Nemanja Vidic--------Patrice Evra


Nani---------Michael Carrick----------Darren Fletcher-------Ryan Giggs

----------Wayne Rooney------Javier Hernandez/Dimitar Berbatov


2011/12 season:

-------------------------David De Gea

Phil Jones-------Rio Ferdinand-------Jonny Evans--------Patrice Evra


Antonio Valencia----Michael Carrick----Paul Scholes/Anderson-----Ashley Young/Nani

-------------------------Wayne Rooney----------Danny Welbeck


2012/13 season:

--------------------------David De Gea

Rafael----------Rio Ferdinand---------- Jonny Evans---------Patrice Evra


Antonio Valencia----Michael Carrick----Tom Cleverly-----Shinji Kagawa

--------------------------------Wayne Rooney

-------------------------------Robin Van Persie

2013/14 season:

---------------------------David De Gea

Chris Smalling------Phil Jones---------Nemanja Vidic----------Patrice Evra


Antonio Valencia----Michael Carrick----Tom Cleverley----Ashley Young/Adnan Januzaj

----------------------Wayne Rooney--------Robin Van Persie


2014/15 season:

--------------------------------David De Gea

Antonio Valencia----Chris Smalling/Phil Jones----Marcos Rojo---Ashley Young

-------------------------------Daley Blind/Michael Carrick

--------------------Maruoune Fellaini---------Angel Di Maria

-------------------------------------Juan Mata

------------------Robin Van Persie-----------Wayne Rooney

Footnote: This was the hardest one to do by far, as our system and personnel changed so much throughout the year. Some tweaking may be necessary.

2015/16 season:

---------------------------------------David De Gea

Matteo Darmian-----Chris Smalling------Daley Blind-------Marcos Rojo

----------------Morgan Schneiderlin/Fellaini-------Michael Carrick

Jesse Lingard-------------------Juan Mata---------------------Anthony Martial

--------------------------------------Wayne Rooney

2016/17 season:

---------------------------------------David De Gea

Antonio Valencia-----Eric Bailly/Phil Jones------Chris Smalling/Marcos Rojo------Daley Blind

--------------------------------------------------Michael Carrick

-------------------------------Ander Herrera----------------------Paul Pogba

Juan Mata/Mikhitaryan------------------------------------------Marcus Rashford/Anthony Martial

--------------------------------------Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Stray observation: as you might remember from 2016/17, our CB situation that season was fecked. We start with Bailly/Blind for 5 games until Blind is moved to left back, then it's Bailly/Smalling for about 10 games, then both get injured and it's Jones/Rojo fairly consistently until Feb, after which Rojo almost never plays again, and Jones pops in occasionally when we play a back 3. Incredibly, our CB pairing for the Europa League final was Smalling/Blind, which unless I missed something, was not a CB pairing we used at any point prior that season.

2017/18 season:

-------------------------------------------David De Gea

Antonio Valencia----Chris Smalling-----Phil Jones/Victor Lindelof------Ashley Young

---------------------------Nemanja Matic----------Paul Pogba

Juan Mata----------------------Jesse Lingard--------------------Marcus Rashford/Anthony Martial

-----------------------------------------Romelu Lukaku

2018/19 season:

---------------------------------------David De Gea

Ashley Young-----Chris Smalling------Victor Lindelof-------Luke Shaw

-------------------------------------Nemanja Matic

---------------Ander Herrera----------------------Paul Pogba

Jesse Lingard------------------------------Marcus Rashford/Anthony Martial

--------------------------------------Romelu Lukaku


Feel free to dispute any of these, and for those with encyclopaedic knowledge, please help me with the years before the 2000's.
 
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nemanja15

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10/11 I'd go with the line-up Fergie used in the CL knockouts... what he thought at the time was almost certainly our best team: van der Sar, Fabio, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Park, Rooney, Hernandez.
 

Gopher Brown

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How often did we actually play 3-5-2 in 14/15?

My research says we started with 3 at the back 13 times in 44 games, and I seem to recall we finished many of those games with a back 4.

Edit: my point is, have you put any research into your post?
 

Mr Smith

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How often did we actually play 3-5-2 in 14/15?

My research says we started with 3 at the back 13 times in 44 games, and I seem to recall we finished many of those games with a back 4.

Edit: my point is, have you put any research into your post?
Fair question, and I deliberated over the formation for the 2014/15 season more than the rest. And no, I didn't check what system we played for every game of that season (frankly, I wouldn't know where to get that information). I did however feel that the 3-5-2 best represented our shape, and more importantly our style, for the 2014/15 season, but more to the point, I'm not sure you'd find another system we used a great deal more frequently than the 3-5-2 (ie we also used a 4-4-2 diamond, a 4-3-3, and a 4-2-3-1 for a run of games that year). I may be wrong though, and you should feel more than welcome to correct me if you have the best information at your fingertips.
 

Mr Smith

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10/11 I'd go with the line-up Fergie used in the CL knockouts... what he thought at the time was almost certainly our best team: van der Sar, Fabio, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Park, Rooney, Hernandez.
That's a fair point. My overall intention here however is to give a general impression of how our team looked over the course of a season as a whole, and SAF didn't really settle on that XI until the final few months of the season. Up till then, Berbatov was almost in immovable object in the team, and it seems unfair not to include him at all. Also, Valencia was out for a very long period that year, and Nani was our player of the season. So I don't think a team without those players would do a good job representing our overall season. Fabio meanwhile, only put in 11 appearances in the whole of 2010/11.
 

POF

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Odd to include Hargreaves in the 2007/08 midfield. Anderson played more games than him that season and the best performances Hargreaves had were at right back.

You've missed Vidic from 2012/13 team also. He was back from injury and the best defender at the club that season.

Pretty good effort overall. This is a really tough one, especially in Fergie's latter years where he had squad rotation down pat.

The 2011/12 season is one where the team changed significantly through the season. At the start of that season United were hammering teams and playing superb attacking football orchestrated by Cleverley and Anderson in midfield.
 

matherto

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2006-07 would've been something like this I imagine.

Van Der Sar
Neville
Ferdinand
Vidic
Heinze
Ronaldo
Scholes
Carrick
Giggs
Rooney
Saha

Evra only displaced Heinze later on in the season, probably near the time Vidic got injured and we probably played Heinze at CB at times. O'Shea, Park and Brown played a lot too although I don't think any of them claimed a first XI spot more regularly than the ones above.

One of my favourite seasons, can't believe it was 10 years ago.
 

Mr Smith

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2006-07 would've been something like this I imagine.

Van Der Sar
Neville
Ferdinand
Vidic
Heinze
Ronaldo
Scholes
Carrick
Giggs
Rooney
Saha

Evra only displaced Heinze later on in the season, probably near the time Vidic got injured and we probably played Heinze at CB at times. O'Shea, Park and Brown played a lot too although I don't think any of them claimed a first XI spot more regularly than the ones above.

One of my favourite seasons, can't believe it was 10 years ago.
That looks pretty much exactly right to me, with your consent I'll add it.
 

ChaddyP

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great idea for a tread. Brought back memories in seeing the progression of the side over the years
 

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I'd put Young over Kagawa on the left during 12/13. Seems like we started most games with a flat 442 with Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley and Young to my memory.
 

Man-United

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2005-06 from what I remember:

VDS
Nevill, Rio Brown/Silvestre Richardson/Silv
Ronaldo O'Shea Giggs Park
RvN Rooney

Start of the season Smith and Fletcher often in midfield too but we ended the season a bit like that above, esp remember that we had O'Shea-Giggs in CM.

2004-05

Carroll
Neville Rio Silvestre Heinze
Scholes Keane Giggs
Ronaldo RvN Rooney

Smith played much too, Fletcher at the end of the season took a starting place, Fortune had a spell in the team as well but we played a lot with this team. It was maybe even more a 433 look when we had Fletcher or Fortune instead of Giggs, he played more as one of the front 3 when esp RvN had his injuries.

2003-04

Howard
Neville Brown Silvestre O'Shea
Ronaldo Keane Djemba/P.Nev Giggs
Scholes
RvN

2002-03

Barthez
Neville Rio Blanc O'Shea/Silv
OGS/Becks Keane Veron/Butt Giggs
Scholes
RvN

2001-02

Barthez
Neville Neville/Wes Blanc Silvestre
Beckham Veron Keane Giggs
Scholes/Ole
RvN


Could argue that our strongest team in 2009-10 didn't include Berbatov. And despite Rooney being poor in 2010-11 he played most of the games.
 

Dir Wangem

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I'd put Young over Kagawa on the left during 12/13. Seems like we started most games with a flat 442 with Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley and Young to my memory.
Nah, we primarily played Kagawa and Welbeck on the left that year. The former was pretty much guaranteed to start when he wasn't injured.
 

2 man midfield

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Nah, we primarily played Kagawa and Welbeck on the left that year. The former was pretty much guaranteed to start when he wasn't injured.
Wiki has Kagawa with only one more league appearance than Young that season, and Kagawa did spend a few games playing behind the striker. It's certainly debatable i'd say. We lined up for most big games that way, such as the 3-2 win at Stamford Bridge.
 

facund

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2015/16 season:

-------------------------------David De Gea

Matteo Darmian-----Chris Smalling------Daley Blind-------Marcos Rojo

----------------------------Michael Carrick

--------Morgan Schneiderlin/Fellaini--------Juan Mata

Jesse Lingard---------------------------------------------Anthony Martial

--------------------------------Wayne Rooney
Not sure Mata played more than a handful of random games in the centre last season. He spent a lot of time drifting there, but almost exclusively from the right wing.

To add to the group-

98/99 season:


------------------------Peter Schmeichel

Gary Neville------Ronny Johnsen------Jaap Stam------Denis Irwin


David Beckham-----Roy Keane-----Paul Scholes/Nicky Butt----Ryan Giggs

-------------------Andy Cole-------------Dwight Yorke


99/00 season:


------------------------Mark Bosnich

Gary Neville------Jaap Stam------Mikael Silvestre------Denis Irwin


David Beckham-----Roy Keane-----Paul Scholes----Ryan Giggs

-------------------Andy Cole-------------Dwight Yorke


00/01 season:


------------------------Fabien Barthez

Gary Neville------Jaap Stam------Wes Brown------Denis Irwin/ Silvestre


David Beckham-----Roy Keane-----Paul Scholes----Ryan Giggs

-------------------Teddy Sheringham-------------Dwight Yorke/Andy Cole/Ole Solskjaer


It starts to get a bit more difficult after that as the introduction of Veron and RVN led to some experimentation towards 4-5-1/4-4-1-1 formations, Solskjaer was played wide quite often and you never had a clue which position Phil Neville was going to turn up in the starting line-up (the same thing happened with O'Shea a year or two later). Transitional phases make it harder to lock down a definitive team.
 

Dir Wangem

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Wiki has Kagawa with only one more league appearance than Young that season, and Kagawa did spend a few games playing behind the striker. It's certainly debatable i'd say. We lined up for most big games that way, such as the 3-2 win at Stamford Bridge.
More than half of Young's minutes in the PL came when Kagawa was injured. The other times, Kagawa was generally playing AM. But whenever both were perfectly fit and Rooney + RVP were playing, Kagawa would take that LW ahead of Young.
 

Mr Smith

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More than half of Young's minutes in the PL came when Kagawa was injured. The other times, Kagawa was generally playing AM. But whenever both were perfectly fit and Rooney + RVP were playing, Kagawa would take that LW ahead of Young.
Yeah, that was more or less my thoughts in putting Kagawa where I did.
 

Mr Smith

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great idea for a tread. Brought back memories in seeing the progression of the side over the years
That was the idea really. It's interesting to note what players have remained permanent fixtures in the side; its remarkable to see how long Valencia, for example, has been a key player.
 

Jaybomb

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07/08:
VDS, Brown, Rio, Vidic, Evra, Hargreaves, Carrick, Scholes, Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez

08/09
VDS, O'Shea, Rio, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, Scholes, Ronaldo, Nani, Rooney, Berbatov

09/10
VDS, O'Shea, Rio, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, Fletcher, Valencia, Nani, Rooney, Berbatov

10/11
VDS, Rafael, Rio, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, Fletcher, Valencia, Nani, Rooney, Chicharito
(Harsh on Berbatov as he got the Golden Boot that season but he also got dropped for the CL Final somehow)

11/12
De Gea, Rafael, Rio, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, Cleverley, Nani, Young, Rooney, Welbeck

12/13
De Gea, Rafael, Rio, Evans, Evra, Carrick, Cleverley, Valencia, Welbeck, Rooney, Van Persie

13/14 (Moyes Season)
De Gea, Rafael, Smalling, Jones, Evra, Carrick, Cleverley, Mata, Welbeck, Rooney, Van Persie

14/15 (LVG's 1st Season)
De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Rojo, Blind, Fellaini, Rooney, Di Maria, Mata, Van Persie, Falcao

15/16 (LVG's 2nd Season)
De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw, Carrick, Fellaini, Rooney, Mata, Martial, Rashford

16/17 (Jose)
De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Blind, Carrick, Pogba, Herrera, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Ibrahimovic
-----------------


Probably got the majority of these wrong but this is the way I remember it.
 

JustAFan

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Odd to include Hargreaves in the 2007/08 midfield. Anderson played more games than him that season and the best performances Hargreaves had were at right back.

You've missed Vidic from 2012/13 team also. He was back from injury and the best defender at the club that season.

Pretty good effort overall. This is a really tough one, especially in Fergie's latter years where he had squad rotation down pat.

The 2011/12 season is one where the team changed significantly through the season. At the start of that season United were hammering teams and playing superb attacking football orchestrated by Cleverley and Anderson in midfield.
I was just getting ready to mention Hargreaves in that line up also
 

POF

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I was just getting ready to mention Hargreaves in that line up also
I thought Hargreaves was a massive disappointment at United and not because of injury. I was surprised how poor he was on the ball and the fluidity of the team's attacking play suffered when he was in central midfield.
 

Keeps It tidy

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07-08 would be more like

Van Der Sar
Brown Ferdinand Vidic Evra
Ronaldo Carrick Scholes Giggs
Rooney Tevez
 

Mr Smith

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Thought I'd update this as it's been a while.

Looking back, it's a fairly obvious thing to point out, but generally we were much more successful when we had a settled side. The exception, strangely enough, was probably 18/19; the players who were first choice actually barely changed at all after Jose was sacked, with the exception of Pogba coming back into the team.
 

MyOnlySolskjaer

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15/16 has to be the biggest lowpoint of the decade. A declining Rooney, Mata and Lingard as an attack.

At least now we have Rashford, Bruno, Martial and Pogba when he's fit.
 

Mr Smith

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15/16 has to be the biggest lowpoint of the decade. A declining Rooney, Mata and Lingard as an attack.

At least now we have Rashford, Bruno, Martial and Pogba when he's fit.
Also notable how all over the place the team sheets were during that period. 14/15, 15/16 and 16/17 were by far the hardest teams to get a common XI; so many players coming in and out. Stark contrast to the late 2000's when our team was pretty much set in stone.
 

Web of Bissaka

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Interesting good thread.

1) How about season 19/20?
It's basically "ended".

2) How is the lineup being made?
- Is it based on memory/assumptions or fact/stats i.e. no of names on starting 11 per PL games of every season?

^ would be better using actual stats.
 

arnie_ni

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Interesting good thread.

1) How about season 19/20?
It's basically "ended".

2) How is the lineup being made?
- Is it based on memory/assumptions or fact/stats i.e. no of names on starting 11 per PL games of every season?

^ would be better using actual stats.
Was going to say this, there shouldnt be Giggs/nani.

It should be based on starts not of memory. Or at least thats what i thought the op was doing until I seen the lineups
 

Mr Smith

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Interesting good thread.

1) How about season 19/20?
It's basically "ended".

2) How is the lineup being made?
- Is it based on memory/assumptions or fact/stats i.e. no of names on starting 11 per PL games of every season?

^ would be better using actual stats.
I'm holding out on the possibility of 19/20 eventually being finished; there's still 9 league games to go plus potential Europa/FA cup games. Which could for instance, be the difference between including Bruno Fernandez or Andreas Periera ;)

In answer to your other question, the answer is a little of both. I've used appearance records for each season, but as I said in my OP, I'm not just interested in how many appearances each individual player had, but how frequently the same players played together on the team sheet, in order to get an idea of the most common "shape" of the side each season.

Take 2010/11 as an example. Rooney and Berbatov have almost an equal amount of starts; by rights, I should keep them both and not even mention Hernandez, who has less starts but more overall appearances when you include him coming off the bench. In addition to that, there's a distinctive shift around February/March during the CL knockouts when after months of Rooney/Berba, you get Rooney/Hernandez and almost never see Berba again. Which is what is represented by the fact that I've gone with Rooney as a constant (though he admittedly also dropped out of the side for a month), and Berba/Hernandez.

In short, it's not an exact science, no.
 

luke511

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Lingard makes the team 3 times, no wonder we were so shit.
 

Mr Smith

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Lingard makes the team 3 times, no wonder we were so shit.
To be fair, he did have one very good year in 17/18. The following season, 18/19, is where he gets away with murder for me, almost unchallenged on the right flank and yet his productivity is the lowest it's ever been.
 

Chabon

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In short, it's not an exact science, no.
So, there is actually an easy way to do this 'properly', but it can lead to some weird 11s, including ones that literally never started a game together. Go to transfermarkt and pull up the squad statistics for an individual premier league season, and then arrange the players by minutes played. So, this would be this year's squad, and you just tap that clock icon to put them in order, and the 11 players with the most minutes played is:

First 11: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire (c), Lindelof, Shaw; Fred, McTominay, Pereira; James, Martial, Rashford.
Subs: Young, Matic, Lingard

That's actually a not unreasonable representation of our starting 11 this year, but obviously, even over the course of a full season, it can be a pretty close thing. Starting 11s can change dramatically in response to fitness and form, and then there's players who rarely seem to be first choice but rack up huge numbers anyway. For example, did you know that John O'Shea started almost precisely half of Manchester United's league games in his ten full seasons at the club? Exactly how many times did he seem like he was first choice in those ten years, and yet, he's gonna make a lot of seasons' starting 11s based purely on minutes. You can do it by appearances instead, but you end up with someone who makes 20 sub appearances getting in ahead of someone who played hundreds more minutes (O'Shea again).

Some years it's all very straightforward, and then others its a bit mental. 2011/12 for example we invariably played with two CMs; Carrick pretty much every game, and then almost literally anyone else depending on who was fit (including Rafael at one point). The 11 most used players that season shoved into a coherent formation looks like this:

First 11: De Gea, Valencia, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra (c); Carrick, Jones; Nani, Rooney, Young; Welbeck
Subs: Smalling, Giggs, Hernandez

Valencia played just five games at RB that season, and Jones just the six in midfield, but how the else do you make those 11 players into a team? Scholes started 14 of our last 18 games, but he only signed in January and is 15th in minutes played, so he can't really be considered part of the starting 11 for that season, and yet...

I think when I'm procrastinating today I'll come up with a combined system and then do the starting 11s for every season since football began.
 

Walters_19_MuFc

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The reoccurring theme with most of the teams is width and quality of winger, especially under Sir Alex. Unfortunately, after season 13/14, it went to pot. Whilst the jury is still out with Ole, one thing he understands is the philosophy of this club. He seems to be moving towards what we used to have in abundance on the wing - pace and directness. If we can secure a player like Sancho, added to what we already have in Rashford, Greenwood and James, then although it could still need improving, it would certainly prove to be a step in the right direction.
 

Chabon

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Right, going mostly off minutes played in the league with a bit of my own memory thrown in, and with the occasional bit of adjustment for the sake of coherence, I came up with the following. Note that if there's a second player listed it's because they were pretty close to or actually did share the position that season:

92/93


93/94



94/95 (pre-Selhurst Park)

After Cantona's suspension we were a shambles, we didn't have close to a clear starting 11 for the rest of the season, we didn't even have a regular formation. Lee Sharpe played at left back a few times, ffs.

95/96


96/97

We didn’t really have anything like a settled starting 11 this season, or even a settled formation (we played 3 at the back a few times, usually disastrously). so the above is a compromise at best.

97/98


98/99

This was the first season where Fergie regularly rotated multiple positions by choice.

99/00


00/01

This is the season when larger squads and constant rotation really start to become a thing, so the 11s are gonna tend to be less credible from now on.

01/02


02/03


03/04 (Pre-Rio's suspension)

After we lost Rio we never had anything like a settled eleven for the rest of the season. Funny how history repeats itself.

04/05


05/06 (a season of two halves)

Scholes went blind, Smith broke his leg, Ruud annoyed Fergie, Vidic appeared, Richardson... There's no exact dividing line, but we had very different teams in the early and the later stages of the season, so, see above.

06/07


07/08


08/09


09/10

Scholes and Berbatov didn't play the same position, obviously. We'd swap formations depending on which was playing.

10/11
 
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Chabon

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11/12 (another season of two halves)

The personnel differences aren't as pronounced as the last time, but Scholes coming out of retirement due to our complete absence of midfielders (Rafael and Park ring any bells?) so completely changed the side that I thought it needed to be recognised.

12/13


I tried to carry on, but the Moyes season is such a complete shambles (pretty much a different back four every game) that I gave up. I can't even begin to imagine how hard LVG's first year would be as well. Both managers were insanely indecisive, no wonder we were shite.
 

DWelbz19

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Great work @Chabon

I mean, we already know it, but it really is mental how many seasons Giggs was a mainstay for.

Also, Keane’s frequency is interesting. What was the deal there? First choice in his first season then it’s up and down until 2000-ish.