In the hours after our 1-1 draw with Peterborough, I was asked to look at the passing stats, specifically those of Tayo Edun.
He has come in for some criticism in recent weeks, astounding as we’re top of the league and he’s our regular left-back, but you know how football is. In the opening few minutes of the Posh game, we were being dominated and Tayo was the one fans were quick to point the finger at for being out of sorts. Typically, I defended him, as I did on the podcast when Ben picked up on the misses too. Well, now is the time for me to start talking about passing stats, and to (in my opinion) surprise a few people with the outcome.
Let me first ask you a question. Who played the most passes against Posh this season, accurate or inaccurate? I’d say write it down, but it’s pointless. Do you have a player in your head?
Yup, the former Fulham man played 46 passes in total, more than any other Lincoln City player. That alone gives him a greater margin for error anyway, but the next two highest were TJ Eyoma on 44 and Liam Bridcutt on 41. Maybe, because he got on the ball more than any other player, it is easier to see the things he didn’t do as well? I just think a couple of stray passes in the first few minutes sets up a perception that he’s not passing well, whereas the truth is very different.
Of course, it may have been those passes were largely inaccurate, so who played the most accurate passes all game? I suppose it stands to reason it would be one of those who played the most passes right? Wrong again. In fact, Lewis Montsma played the most accurate passes, 35, from a total of 40. The next highest? Tayo Edun and TJ Eyoma with 34 successful passes each. Also, before I hear ‘but they were sideways passes’, Tayo played 25 forward passes in the game, 18 successful, and 11 into the final third. The simple fact is, Tayo Edun’s passing was regarded as weak this weekend by some supporters and those supporters were wrong.
Across the squad, the range of passing accuracy does vary significantly. In terms of percentage, the best passers of the ball were Adam Jackson (34 passes, 32 successful, 94%), and Anthony Scully (29 passes, 26 successful, 90%). Tayo’s success rate was 74%, which left him 1% behind Brennan Johnson’s 75%, but having played four times as many passes. Across the squad, there were success rates of 72%, 71% and 40%, all worse than Tayo from far fewer passes too.
My point here is this – I was asked about Tayo’s passing stats because people felt his delivery was a weak link (in a 1-1 draw with a side everyone thought would win the league), and it wasn’t. In fact, it isn’t most weeks, but for some reason, that is the preconception. I also know that sometimes, the commentary team pick up on something Edun does and that sticks in some fans minds – it is almost a perfect storm of negative perception. It has led me to focus on what he does do well, which led to this article, but it shouldn’t be down to me to discuss.
I find it odd that I have also seen calls for us to sign a left-back, with local media asking whether we needed one and fans responding rather resolutely. Yes, I can see the benefit of having another left-back in the squad, but we have Sean Roughan and Max Melbourne, both players Michael has opted to leave out of the squad in favour of Tayo. I think that speaks volumes for the progress Tayo has shown this season and that the perception of his game is perhaps wrong. Also, Tayo had started just four Football League matches before joining us, so we’re talking about another young player still learning his trade.
I understand people have opinions and football would be rubbish without them, but I also hope that when facts are presented in this manner, it can put to bed some of the preconceptions and perceptions of a player which are simply wrong. He might not be a natural left-back and he might have a bit to learn, but this season he’s started 14 matches in a side who are four points clear at the top of League One. He must be doing something right….