As you know, I’m not at home this week and therefore finding it tough to do any content for you.
However, I wanted to get Wyscout fired up briefly this morning to give you a stats comparison between our new boy, Paudie O’Connor, and other Lincoln City defenders last season. There will be some of you who love this sort of thing, others will rightly point to the difference in levels as a reason the stats are not worth paying attention to.
My point here is not to compare the players per se, but to give you an indication of how O’Connor did for the Bantams, and how that was reflected in our player’s contributions to our team. Those who find it interesting please read on, those who don’t, just sit tight and wait to see what he can do for yourself!
This was a key area of weakness for me last season; at times we didn’t dominate aerially and we almost never had a threat in the attacking box, let alone the defensive one. Certain players bullied us, certain teams absolutely battered us in the air and that was something a lot of fans felt needed correcting. We need a monster, a player that actually mixes it with Josh Magennis, who goes through weaker forwards like a combine harvester through a herd of scared deer (disclaimer, I’ve never seen that happen, but hopefully you get the metaphor). Is that O’Connor?
In all competitions (bar the FA Cup, which Wyscout only picks up in the third round), he contested 8.78 aerial duels per game, winning 70%. In total, he played 4550 minutes in all, and made 444 aerial duels. I’m impressed by the number of aerial duels won; most times you’ll see that number being closer to 50%.
Our highest defensive performer in terms of duels contested was Adam Jackson, packing 8.12 aerial duels per game with a 65.97% success rate. That’s in the ballpark, but Jackson played 2206 minutes (excluding the FA Cup). There’s one of the key drivers behind this move; it’s not just what O’Connor should do for us, but the period of time he can do it; 40+ matches.
Other aerial duel figures include Joe Walsh (7.18 per game, 54.95%, 1141 minutes played), TJ Eyoma (5.72, 38.16%), Regan Poole (5.39, 54.7%) and Lewis Montsma (4.55, 57.39%). The feeling I get is O’Connor could be here to play the Adam Jackson ‘warrior’ role, with either a player on both sides in a three, or (long term) a player like Montsma there to play the ball out from the back.
A defensive duel, for those interested, is not just a tackle; it could be a chase for a loose ball by two players, one an opposition attacker the other our defender (or, O’Connor for Bradford). How does our new boy do in this metric?
He contested 294 defensive duels last season, 5.82 per game, winning 72.8% of those duels. I’d worry if any defender had a stat under 50% – you expect the defenders to be able to win balls from attackers more often than the other wat around.
How did our boys measure up in this stat? Interestingly, it tends to be full backs that contest more of these balls; Jamie Robson contested 7.63, Norton-Cuffy 7.32 per game, the first centre back on the list is Eyoma with 6.93 and a success rate of 76.63. In terms of our dedicated centre backs, Adam Jackson contested 6.25 per game, winning 70.07%, Walsh 6.78 per game with 69.77% and Montsma 5.97 with 74.83%. That puts O’Connor’s numbers in the ball park, certainly in terms of percentage, so it’ll be interesting to see how that develops with the step up.
Fouls and Cards
We’ve heard all about this so-called hot head from the Bradford fans looking to reduce the impact of letting him go, does it stack up? Is he a suspension risk?
O’Connor stacked up 10 bookings last season, which could result in a suspension depending on the competitions. That would have left him behind Maguire (11), and McGrandles (14). He was dismissed twice, which is the biggest concern, but his red cards per 90 (0.04) was the same as TJ and Morgan Whittaker.
In terms of fouls per game, O’Connor would have sit 13th zin the squad; he committed 0.85 per game, fewer than defenders Walsh (1.26) and Eyoma (0.9). Jackson (0.68), Montsma (0.71) and Poole (0.58) all committed fewer fouls.
Blocks and Interceptions
Here’s another little bugbear of mine; how many times did a goal get past our keeper having gone through a collection of bodies? It happened plenty, and I sometimes wondered why defenders didn’t seem to put their bodies on the line quite as much as we’d hope they would. It might be perception of course; some games we were utterly committed, blocking more shots than I block people on Twitter (Charlton away, for instance). Joe Walsh was the best at this; he blocked 0.95 shots per game, with Eyoma 0.87, Montsma 0.79, Jackson 0.72, and Poole 0.53. O’Connor would come in the top three at 0.83.
In terms of interceptions, O’Connor made 6.23 per game; that’s passes etc rather than shots. That bested our defenders, with Montsma on 5.93, Eyoma and 5.42, Walsh on 5.21, Poole on 5.2 and Jackson on 4.89. It suggests we have a hands-on defender who can get his body on the line. However, can he pass?
This is the final metric I’ll give you today (my bacon is nearly ready). Any footballer can pass a ball, whatever you might think, but where would O’Connor rate currently? We can all remember Cian Bolger reprimanding his own supporters as he was barracked for trying to play a passing game that didn’t suit, is O’Connor going to be the same? Certainly, Bradford’s style differed from ours; the defender made 29.29 passes per game, with an accuracy of 80.62. In terms of outliers, it would leave him just below the average passes per game for our squad; Lewis Fiorini being just above on 30.92, but in terms of accuracy he’s be above the average, with Maguire on 78.82%.
Our defenders definitely got plenty of passes in: Montsma made 52 per game with an 82.94 success rate, with Walsh next (49.22, 83.49%), Poole (49.05, 79.85%), Eyoma (47.92, 84.84%) and Jackson (45.17, 86.63%). There’s no doubt O’Connor will be asked to play a few more passes per game, but I also expect the numbers for the other players to come down, with around 40 the average. Crucially, his accuracy isn’t way off, which hopefully means he’ll fit into a more passing-centric style.
You know my feelings; this is a decent signing for us and a player with potential to push on. He’s liked by a majority of Bradford supporters and has a decent upbringing at Leeds. He held his own from Blackpool in League One a couple of years ago, albeit on a short loan, and he’s better and stronger for his time with Bradford City. His numbers stack up: he’s a seemingly competent defender with a challenging streak. Of course, we don’t want suspensions for silly reds, so that has to be addressed by Mark Kennedy, but other than that, I’m happy with what I’ve seen in the stats.