I love hardworking players. But lets be honest, ‘hardworking’ is the bottom line any football fan expects from an individual who turns out for a football club.
I wrote a post recently which praised Brett Pitman & Freddie Sears, but reading it back recently, I feel it definitely did not do the Jerseyman justice, especially given his overall attitude, performances and the ease at which he has settled at Ipswich Town.
Let’s rewind; around the time that Murphy was touted to leave, I used the number 9’s ‘characteristics’ (what he excelled at) to attempt to find out Championship level players who could replace him.
Pitman’s goal getting, physical attributes and the fact he also took a good amount of shots, meant that he was a great fit at Ipswich, and arguably a more than capable replacement were Murphy to leave. Not only this, but compared to the crop of strikers Ipswich had in Sears, McGoldrick, as well as Murphy, actually saw Pitman’s offensive outputs placing him somewhere between Murphy and McGoldrick.
But what do I mean by that? I’m referring to the physicality, the aerial dominance & shots which places him akin to Murphy, and his ball-work in terms of influence and creativity, á la McGoldrick, placing him somewhere between the Tractor Boys’ two DM’s. Pitman is a fantastic player to have on Ipswich’s roster.
I even created a pair of Knutson radars to compare his performances this year and last;
He’s just impressive, and looks to be developing by finding his role in the current Ipswich set up.
I also had a look at Ipswich’s strikers, and how Pitman matched up with them this year – in addition, I compared him to the top 10 strikers in the league this year (by non-penalty goals)
Non-penalty goals sees Pitman as prolific – his rich vein of goalscoring, the understanding he has developed with Sears and Murphy, as well as the resurgent Douglas has seen him pop up with goals.
For any Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich, aerial wins are key – the amount of long balls played are second to none; Pitman is surprisingly good in the air, winning 39.2% of the headers he contested.
Conversion rate is fun, it’s hard to tell what’s sustainable and what’s not – Last season’s average conversion for strikers who played over 900 minutes was 14% – Pitman and Murphy are currently above that (granted Murphy has taken waaay less shots than he did last season), and it can be argued that a few of the top 10 scorers are overachieving also. But then Ighalo finished last season with a conversion of 30% – so one in 3 shots he took resulted in a goal. Madness.
I’d like to bring up McGoldrick here – low non-penalty goals, low conversion, a ton of shots (arguably too many, and I believe from some pretty poor locations – standard McGoldrick..) (I’m working on a piece which examines his impact in and out of the team – spoiler, he gets on the ball a lot.. check out his passes per 90) – No assists, and a really poor key pass effort. Some may say he’s not played much, but all these metrics are adjusted for a quarter of the minutes played (he qualifies) and adjusted for per 90 (also standardises things). McGoldrick has been poor.
Assists and key pass-wise; Pitman’s been up there. Involved in the passing plays, and laying on goals for his teammates. It’s impressive, the man can do everything at a good, average level – and at this standard, the Championship. this jack of all trades approach is excellent. For the functional play that McCarthy promotes, the calibre & standard Pitman has brought to the front line has been excellent.
With returning players such as Fraser, Bru and young Teddy Bishop may mean the aging legs of Murphy, Douglas and Skuse are rested – But surely there should always be a place for Ipswich’s number 11.