Dafuge & Data: Stats and Summary Season Four
It’s all go here at Flamingo Land Stadium but before we get onto the details and summary of our fourth season with Scarborough you might want to check previous updates:
- Longball and DNA
- Season One Summary
- Season Two Summary
- Season Three Summary
- Problem Right backs
- Striker Health Checks
- Klingon Tactics
After a season of mid-table mediocrity (which was actually an overachievement considering we have just been promoted) we went back to the transfer market to see where we could make improvements. Our defence, and keeper, had been highlighted as a potential area of weakness, as had the under performances of tall boi Coburn.
Man United youth product Harrison came in to offer competition for the goalkeeper spot and actually overtook McDonnell in the coach recommendations the moment he arrived. Short arses Curtis and Wormleighton arrived to offer depth in the fullback positions. Whilst both short and small they both had attributes that suggested they might be aggressive. If you can’t get big men, get small men with a complex (and in the case of Wormy a Harry Potter-esque name).
To bring the average height back up again though we brought centreback Agbontohoma in. A strong leaping 6ft 4 brick outhouse.
Mazlan and Hardarson had been solid in midfield last season but not massively inspiring so Atkinson, with rave reviews from our half-blind scouts, came in to offer something for both the box to box and ball-winning positions.
Once again we recruited wingers as I was worried about how much more we could get out of Billam on the left, and Bright on the right. Peake looked like he had potential, as did McEvoy. Wasters like Kwame were moved on.
Upfront I was happy with Varian (who wouldn’t be? He was eyeing up the 100 goal mark this season), Salisbury and Cannonier. Coburn would get one last chance. But I couldn’t ignore the chance to sign Bennett, a 6ft 8′ targetman. Watch out Coburn.
Another Summary Another Blip
It wouldn’t be a summary without a blip in form, would it? The promising start we had enjoyed last season evaporated even sooner this time around. Points were coming in but not at a great rate. If this was our good run then the downturn would force us into the relegation zone.
Eager to head this off before it completely tanked the season we went back to the drawing board. Our attacks seemed a little stale, and whilst I love a good one-dimensional approach this was probably a little too extreme. We needed to work more space into the final third, and more options. Especially now the amount of man-marking on the likes of Varian was noticeably increasing.
Klingon Inspired Tactics
Our last lot of tactics were inspired by Klingons. Aggressive, combative and out to win at all costs. Our next tactical iteration kept this spirit but also found inspiration in the form of the Klingon Bird of Prey. That’s right. Just when this couldn’t get any nerdier.
Look at it. It has wings. Our tactic has wings. Look at it, its wings are curved, swept almost. Our wings were flat in our old 442. So I altered the wings slightly and used this as a chance to get even more targetmen on the pitch.
The changes were simple. The W-A became WTM-A. The fullbacks were on support rather than automatic to make sure too much space wasn’t left behind them. There were a few versions between the Way of the Warrior tactic and the Qa’pla (success in Klingon) but ultimately this slight change was all we needed.
It forced the player in the WTM role to take a more advanced position by default which gave more options and outlets for counters and long balls. It also helped draw out a defender earlier, which forced a lot of defences to then shift to cover. If a defender came out earlier to deal with the WTM, then that was more space for the PF, and if they shifted to cover both that was more space for the TM. And…(deep breathe) if they shifted to cover the TM, PF and the WTM, then there was more space from the W-A on the left, arriving a little later to the party.
All in all, it just opened a lot of space, reduced the number of defenders marking each player, and made the aerial route even more effective. A common string of moves was the longball to one of the targetmen, who would nod it on to the PF, who would then after drawing another defender to them play through the other targetman.
Or the PF would just take it on themselves, after getting service from either the left or the right. Either way, our form picked up. And I mean picked up.
The sliding down the table stopped and we managed to rise up the table like a majestic seagull caught in a sea breeze.
Throughout this, we only lost twice, and only once in the league. Both instances were against now promotion rivals Scunthorpe. This worried me as if we missed out on the title and automatic promotion we might have had to face off against them. Whilst we weren’t expecting to be in a title fight losing against them would have hurt.
League 2: The Promise Land
It came down to the final game of the season. All we had to do was match Scunthorpe’s result and we would be promoted. We faced off against 18th placed Chester. And it started badly. For a lot of the match, we swapped places with Scunthorpe and were in 2nd. Staring the playoffs in the face. We were goalless but Scummy Scunny had an early 2 goal lead against Eastleigh.
On the 75th minute though Peake popped up and tapped home to give us the lead and propel us back to 1st place. To add insult to injury Eastleigh scored 2 goals in the last 5 minutes to equalise against Scunthorpe.
The joyous news of the promotion was followed by the arse puckering news of a £1.9m investment in making the stadium meet league 2 specifications. Basically, there were three criteria, and we missed all three.
The new renovation would add extra seats, bringing up the capacity and seating capacity together. And our lovely astroturf was going to be replaced by good old fashioned sod. In the meantime though that would mean moving out of Flamingo Land Park and finding a new home.
I’ve not done a massive stats summary and break down of the new tactic because just look at it. We lost one league game and got promoted. I love stats, I really do. I think they are massively useful in football and life in general. If you’re not using the evidence you are just guessing and hoping. If Big Sam and Tony Pulis can use stats (and have been for about twenty years) then you have no excuse. In this case though the difference in results, and the end result of the title was clear. This wasn’t a case of assessing any marginal gains. The gains were massive.
The stats did suggest a bit of an overperformance though when we look at xG and xPts over the course of the season. But with promotion, all bets are off. We will just need to improve generally next season if we are to have any chance of survival.
In terms of xG against the keeper change from McDonnell to Harrison seems to have had an effect. Going from 15 extra goals conceded with McDonnell last season to just 8 with Harrison. Almost a 50% reduction.
Promisingly fouls and shot conversion were high. Key markers of our clinical cynical hoofball.
We will be turning professional, which is nice. And our wage budget has spiked to about £27k a week. I guess it will need to when we consider the cost of all the new contracts. We’ve also got room for more staff now. I might actually have to go to training now.
Thankfully de la Vega is now favoured personnel, as is Ethon Varian registered goal machine. Which I think is fair considering us being Manager of the Year and Varian getting both Top Goal Scorer and Player of the Year. Really we should be legends at this point. Bring on league 2 and the inevitable increase in profit made from away fans going on the dodge ’ems and slot machines.
The next two posts are time-wasting specials about wonder striker Varian, and our new stadium.