I had an off-the-record conversation with a club insider a year ago this week. He informed me we might be interested in Reeco Hackett, out of favour at Portsmouth, as he was ‘an upgrade’ on what we already had.
That deal never happened; it didn’t so much collapse as got put on the back burner. Like Morgan Whittaker a year or so before, we’d missed out on a player who could have made a big contribution in the six months we didn’t have him. How do I know? Because we saw what he can do in August and September after he finally did sign, and boy, have we missed him.
So far this season, Reeco has two goals and three assists for us, and whilst that might not seem spectacular, you have to remember he has been shifted about the pitch. He’s played centre forward, somewhere he is capable but not entirely suited. He’s played left-wing, right-wing, and this weekend, a hybrid of left-wing-back and left-wing. You could be forgiven for thinking his first 90 minutes since injury (he was taken off on 89, but given the stoppages in the first half, completed 90) in an unfamiliar position might have been a bit of a damp squib.
Not so. I felt he was very close to Man of the Match after turning in a display of attacking prowess, but also managing, along with Sean Roughan, to keep one of the most dangerous wide players in our division quiet. He passed the ‘Gary’s eye test,’ but did he pass the stats test? In his position, he needs to offer as much going forward as he does coming backward. Did he do that? Did he match up to Lasse on the other flank, a player who has been fit and able to compete for most of the season?
Reeco Hackett Versus Peterborough
The answer to the first question is absolutely, 100% yes. In my eyes, he had a superb game, showing exactly the qualities needed to play in the wing-back position.
Going forward, he offered a threat. One of his main attributes is dribbling, and he managed 11 during the game at an eye-watering 91% success rate. I cannot overstate how good that is – the best player in the division for dribbling stats per 90 is Kane Wilson at Derby, and he averages 9.31, and the best total per 90 minutes combined with success rate in Jordan Graham, 9.14 with a 63.33% success rate. Make no mistake, Reeco’s dribbling wasn’t good on Saturday; it was outstandingly good.
He got forward, getting three shots away, and created an opportunity for a teammate. Again, whilst he didn’t score, that’s a decent number, especially when you consider he managed four touches in the box as well – this was a decent attacking outing for the former Pompey man.
I remember when he first came to my attention, back when he was at Charlton. I recall looking at Karlan Grant, another former double-barrelled player who has since dropped the second bit of his name. He was outstanding, but during my research, another young man came to my attention – Reeco. I kept an eye on him at Bromley and was jealous when he finally got a Football League move. Never was I of the opinion he would be a good left wing back.
19 defensive duels he made on Saturday – the highest average per 90 is just over ten. Funnily enough, the third-best player in the division for the number of defensive duels is Jack Burroughs! In terms of success, Reeco got 63% on Saturday, which for an attacker playing wing-back is not a shabby outcome. Let’s not forget he was up against Mason-Clark, with 242 1v1 dribbles this season (the highest cumulative total), 8.57 per 90 (fifth highest in the division), and a 56.2% success rate.
Even the number of interceptions he made is impressive – whilst the divisional best is 7.86, Reeco made nine. Remember, the numbers I’m mentioning here for others are not averages; they’re the very top numbers.
Compared to Lasse
Huge disclaimer here – I am not releasing these numbers because I want to pit Reeco and Lasse against each other. Lasse is an established player and different in many ways from Reeco. I want to put the numbers here for pure comparison, with the caveat that Reeco was playing his first 90 minutes, and a direct comparison is only used because they both played wing-back. Remember, we are more of a 4-4-2 in possession, with Reeco playing advanced, so attacking I’d expect slightly higher stats than those from Lasse.
What I wanted to demonstrate here is just how effective Reeco was on Saturday, both going forward and getting back. His numbers hold up against an established full-back, a starting regular who has the backing of supporters.
I could go on with the comparisons – I could pull Jack Burroughs’ stats, which are really impressive – he appears in the top 20 in League One for a few metrics and is a big player to dislodge from the team. However, Reeco proved on Saturday that he isn’t just the tricky attacker; he isn’t just a player with a goal threat. He’s a proper all-rounder and a key player in the Michael Skubala Lincoln City era.