Inverness CT

Consistency key to Butcher's success

Written by Fraser Jackson.

By Fraser Jackson:
It’s hard to believe it now, but at the start of the season Terry Butcher was a man under serious pressure. The 2011/12 season had been a very poor one for Inverness as the club finished a highly dissappointing 10th place, only escaping a serious relegation clash due to the ineptness of Dunfermline. The off-season appeared to offer little hope as a number of key first team players were ushered out of the door: Jonny Hayes to Aberdeen, Gregory Tade to St Johnstone and most gallingly of all experienced defender Ross Tokely left for arch-rivals Ross County, with accusations from fans of treating this club legend unprofessionally. In their place came a series of replacements from the lower leagues of England. The early season also did little to ease the pressure with a series of frustrating draws leading to the club taking seven league games to record a win.
So how have Inverness managed to end up in such a positive position?

Perhaps the most important attribute of this season has been the consistency and stability of the side. Last season Inverness had 29 different starters over the course of the season, and just 9 of those started over 50% of matches. Injuries forced this rotation of players to an extent, however the club clearly employed a rotation policy to an extreme extent and players were unable to gain any consistent run of form in the starting XI. Only one player, Richie Foran, even came close to playing every fixture last season (playing 41 of 42 matches in all competitions). In stark contrast, so far this season 11 players have started more than 50% of matches with 9 players starting over 75% of matches. Gary Warren, Graeme Shinnie and Aaron Doran have started every fixture this season (26)  while Andrew Shinnie and David Raven have started in all but one of these matches. This changed strategy of  employing a settled group of starting players has allowed for more consistent performances and for these players to develop a greater understanding. It has developed a certain mentality within this group of players of togetherness and determination, best exemplified in the Highland Derby match against Ross County in this seasons Scottish Cup. After witnessing County scoring what appeared to be a 93rd minute winner, Inverness immediately converted a last minute equalising corner and duly won the replay. To be able to respond in this manner in the pressurised derby atmosphere shows a steely determination that Inverness have perhaps lacked in recent times. This trait was further shown recently at Tannadice when, after going 3-0 down against Dundee United in 8 minutes thanks to some poor defending, Inverness re-grouped and sustained an efficient attacking performance to go 4-3 ahead. They were only pegged back to a draw due to a controversial late penalty.

This season has also seen more consistent tactical formations allowing each player to clearly understand and adapt to their role within the team. Butcher has adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation which allows for both offensive and defensive strategies to be used. Below is the most common line-up used this season:

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