Sheff Utd - Bias Buster - Numbers and Stuff

cockbeard

Fans' Favourite
#1
So we've all got thoughts on what happened Saturday, what went wrong, who was to blame, what went right. I've been poring over the figures, at least the ones that are public. Taught myself how to use some imaging stuff so I could create a bunch of overlays as well. If any of you guys find this useful, I'll do something similar after most matches, might not get it for a few days, as would like to use it to answer questions and look at the impressions that folk drew from the game

Lazy Forwards
Most everyone who has mentioned the forwards thought they did nothing. There are two ways to get the ball, either from your team mates behind you, or from the opposition in front of you. I'll address the first scenario later, but there is no good reason not to go and get the ball yourself. We are supposed to be a pressing side, those three have well over 400 appearances and 100 goals between them, this is not new players learning to play the Eddie way. A defensive action is a tackle, block, interception, or clearance. The ones in blue were performed by the forward line, the ones in red were by Billing or Lerma

DefActionsFwdVsMid.png

So a very clear difference in workrate there. They cannot even say that Sheffield Utd never had the ball in front of them, as we can see three tackles from Billing deep in the opposition half. Turning over possession in dangerous areas is incredibly useful, while the defence are still transitioning into attack and cannot reset their positions easily. Fraser, Wilson and King know this, but did nothing to make it happen, why not?

Well maybe the reason they were not getting in the face of the Sheffield United defenders was the same reason they weren't getting much service from midfield. I wrongly assumed a massive gap between the middle and the forwards, but it seems that isn't strictly true. The three of them were standing in the same place though, this offers very few options to a primarily defensive midfield looking for targets to hit. They want three targets not one. However all three forwards average position was far too close to each other to be useful. From 50 yards away in the wind that we were experiencing that 15*5 yard box was effectively a single spot

PlayerPositionFinal.png

To my eyes I kept seeing a huge gap, but in reality just look how compact we were, yet zero width. I would have thought playing against 3 centre backs would be crying out for wide players to go around them and exploit that space. Which did happen a bit, but this bunching up in the middle really restricted options for the defenders and midfielders to hit anyone early

Rico
You can also see from the above graphic that Rico played over 10 meters deeper than Smith, so people saying they saw little of him going forward are bang on the money. His passing was terrible as well, no other word for it. When we're rumoured to be in for a player I'll check their passing percentage first and if it's low 80s or below I immediately either write it off or at least reduce the probability in my head hugely. Rico was playing very withdrawn, he was busy defensively, but passing at 60% accuracy means he's making more work for himself by giving the ball away. Very very poor day. Not really restricted to any particular kinds of passes either, short and long balls were going awry, so maybe a bad pair of boots, who knows but needs addressing.

RicoVsSmith.PNG

Apart from that he compared pretty well with Smith, but 17 loose passes will get noticed by anyone, so yeah deserves a lot of the pelters he got. I still don;t think he needs to be dropped though, at least not unless Kelly were fit

Seems overall we did far too much defensive work, and that stems from the front three doing zero defensive work. With the greatest respect, this was Sheffield United, they didn't have Brian Deane and Chris Kamara, it wasn't Liverpool or Man City, we should have had a lot more of the ball, and showed them how to play, not let them play in front of us

Anyway feel free to ask further questions, will try to dig out some facts to tell us what actually happened. Numbers taken from whoscored.com
 
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SlowDownDerek

Fans' Favourite
#3
Good effort this. Not just because it backs up how I saw Rico's game and the fact that lack of width up front didn't help.us create but it's an interesting way to look at the game.
 
#6
Be very careful with a average position charts. They are the most misleading graphic in all of football. King and Fraser swapped flanks on several occasions. That makes their average positions look central. Obviously this would not be the case. Honestly that part of the analysis becomes worthless once this point is understood.
Most everyone who has mentioned the forwards thought they did nothing. There are two ways to get the ball, either from your team mates behind you, or from the opposition in front of you.
When you are Man City, forwards don’t need to look for the ball. They just need to find space between the centre backs or between CB and full backs. The reason is because Man City midfielders can play crisp 20 yard passes forward to feet. Our midfield can’t do this so either our forwards need to drop deep to get the ball, or we need a third central midfielder to close the gap between midfield and attack. A problem a lot of teams have but something we will need to find a solution for.

But again. Any comments about lack of width must be taken with a pinch of salt using these graphics.
 

cockbeard

Fans' Favourite
#8
Heat map showed very similar, I took the average position as I thought it the easiest for folk to read, but that is a fair point, and one I didn't really take into consideration
 
#9
Moaning about Rico using those stats because of his passing compared Smith's seems unfair, when pretty much every other stat Rico was better than Smith.
There was also one pass that Rico plays down the line to King, and King didn't move and it got intercepted, is that Rico's fault?
Interesting stats, but can be used to prove or disprove very similar things sometimes.
 

cockbeard

Fans' Favourite
#10
Makes complete sense, I was actually trying to defend Diego, but all that said 62% pass completion is very difficult to overlook, especially when you look at the rest, those that were with us a while were way higher

Just calling what I see is all, also the only reason Ryan is so high is becasue he only passed once or twice
 

cockbeard

Fans' Favourite
#11
Heat map showed very similar, I took the average position as I thought it the easiest for folk to read, but that is a fair point, and one I didn't really take into consideration
If I had access to five minute windows like Garvan and that guys who look at this properly, then I could give better insight, but I only get 90 minute averages, oops
 

AFCBade

Fans' Favourite
#12
Interesting analysis.

My defence of Rico was more around digging him out for the goal and equal worse marks rather than saying he had a great game. Wilson and king had poorer games for me.

Thought rico performed better defensively (this had been a big concern) but particularly suffered when Fraser switched wings as there was such a big gap between him and forward line. For the wingback formation to work the fullbacks need to be further forward and create chances. Rico didn’t do this.
 
#13
Nice stat summary but as has been mentioned, statistics can be misleading when you're looking at averages in a very dynamic and fast moving arena... Nonetheless, interesting to see.

Not related to the stats (here) essentially, but for me, Billing and Lerma did well together, and I know it's just one game, but I wonder if we can play a central 2 of just these 2. They are both great workhorses and both covered the ground we needed them to, but between them they have limited 'continued' ability to unlock defences, as was proven on Saturday.

We seriously lacked a Lewis Cook, Harry Wilson type player, that can 'see that pass'...

I fear for the front players moving forward as I think we'll end up needed to play 3 in the middle and sacrifice a front man... It's just who?
 
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Neil Dawson

Fans' Favourite
#14
Interesting read and thanks for sharing.

Stats can be a lot of things normally good in my eyes but sitting there, hoping Rico came good and wincing every time he gave the ball away I knew his pass rate would be like this.
 
#15
Nice stat summary but as has been mentioned, statistics can be misleading when you're looking at averages in a very dynamic and fast moving arena... Nonetheless, interesting to see.

Not related to the stats (here) essentially, but for me, Billing and Lerma did well together,, and I know it's just one game, but I wonder if we can play a central 2 of just these 2. They are both great workhorses and both covered the ground we needed them to, but between them they have limited 'continued' ability to unlock defences, as was proven on Saturday.

We seriously lacked a Lewis Cook, Harry Wilson type player, that can 'see that pass'...

I fear for the front players moving forward as I think we'll end up needed to play 3 in the middle and sacrifice a front man... It's just who?
We often debate on here about 4-4-2 versus other more 'between the lines' formations such as the 3-4-3 we used on Saturday. Indeed on paper that 3-4-3 looked tasty I thought. It didn't work, but that may just be the unfamiliarity, so I wouldn't rule it out.

We've done so well with 4-4-2 in the past because of the flexibility of the players playing within it. It was only really 4-4-2 on paper. In reality we had so much fluidity in it with attacking wing backs, narrow wingers, a deep lying forward, a midfielder breaking to the edge of the box etc. We've also sometimes looked really crap playing 4-4-2 in the past because we fall into the trap of rigidity where it becomes 3 straight lines. It's a danger inherent to that shape.

Billing and Lerma in a 4-4-2 could absolutely work, as long as the attacking players around and ahead of them have the work rate and the understanding with each other to be flexible, inter-change, cover each other etc.

If your squad doesn't yet have that understanding (I wonder if Howe thinks this is the case ) then it explains why he'd pick a formation that inherently promotes positional flexibility and a blurring of lines, such as 3-4-3 with it's wingbacks and wide forwards.

The only place this conundrum can be worked out is the training pitch - Eddie's second home.
 
#16
So according to the stats Rico had a poor offensive game, but a good defensive game, whereas the opposite is true for Smith. I'd also be interested to see how many of Smith's passes were just backwards moves; watching live thats what it felt like.
 
#17
From what I could see - The only thing Smith did to lift himself marginally above Rico on Saturday is take the ball on a few runs past a player or two, opening the odd gap up. Whereas Rico looked lacking in the confidence to do that. In terms of their (in)ability to keep the ball they felt much of a muchness, and positionally they both seemed a bit clueless!
 
#18
At the end of the day the front 3 creating f*** all and EH doing nothing to help it is my biggest takeaway from that game. We were honestly not much worse than against Cardiff last season in our opener, except Cardiff didn't score one of the only chances they created and we managed to get another goal. Sheffield seem around the same level Cardiff.
 
#19
The Rico issue: some people seem to think that identifying a poor performance by the guy is persecution. Cockbeard's research shows that his showing on Saturday was poor (pass completion rate awful) but that's not the full story. I'm afraid Rico is consistently sub-standard - surely the key reason Eddie brought in Kelly.

I'd rather have Charlie D in there until Kelly is fit, despite Charlie's loss of pace. He occupies space effectively, knows how to link with team-mates and can play an accurate long ball. None of that is happening with Rico. Can Rico come good? Yes, possibly, because his effort can't be faulted. But he's unlikely to improve faced by the likes of Man City, Everton etc in coming weeks,
 
#20
I am not sure that Fraser is interested any more, given he was refused a pay rise by the Board and will now no doubt be leaving at the end of the season. I would presume he would be the one that gives way to Harry Wilson who has been promised the game time , or Danjuma once his mysterious foot injury clears up.
As for Rico, I couldn't believe he was even in the starting line-up given last season clearly showed he was not up to Premier standard.