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Different types of Attacking-Midfielders; a thought starter

Disclaimer; this post isn’t about Ozil. Much.

Mesut Ozil is killing it this season.

With over 15 assists already, the German international is on course to hit and surpass Thierry Henry’s record of 20 assists in a Premier League season (anyone else unsurprised that this is another Arsenal player under Wenger who holds this accolade?) – But what shouldn’t be forgotten is the stick that Arsenal’s record signing got in the first season and a half he spent in North London. As the narrative goes, Mesut was not a big game player nor was he the type to be prolific in front of goal.

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This tweet by Simon Brundish got me thinking; how long should different types of players be given to make an ‘impact’?

Let’s examine another player alongside Ozil; Alexis Sanchez. Arguably, he also counts as an attacking-midfielder and I’m sure it cannot be argued that his debut Premier League season was better than Ozil’s.

Where Ozil played 2150 minutes in the Premier League, scored 5 goals and registered 9 assists (a scoring contribution of 0.586 per 90) in his first season, Sanchez played 2953 minutes, scoring 16 goals and 8 assists (a scoring contribution of 0.732 per 90)

So Alexis had a higher impact; but ultimately, they are two very different attacking midfielders. Where Ozil is a ‘creator’ and a orchastrator, Alexis is perhaps more direct. Let’s see if this hypothesis holds.

Alexis took 3.5 shots per game, made 2.3 key passes and attempted 3.3 dribbles per game. Conversely, Mesut’s first season yielded 1.2 shots per game, 2.9 key passes and 1.7 dribbles.

Already we can see Ozil’s emphasis on creating chances than attacking a full back, and perhaps this is why he tended to play narrow for Arsenal even when placed on the wing.

But the secondary factor is this; where Alexis’ game relies upon getting the ball, attacking individually, receiving and letting shots fly, Ozil needs to have the movement, space and time to pick out the passes he wants to make. And this would require the players around him to also understand his game.

The purpose of this post is Liverpool’s #11, Roberto Firmino. As a rule of thumb (which stems from probably a comfort with multiples of 5), pundits refer to a great midfield player as someone who posts 10 goals and 10 assists a season.

In Ozil’s three seasons with Real, he averaged about 6 goals and 15 assists per season.
Alexis at Barca in his three La Liga seasons averaged 13 goals and 8 assists per season.

So where does this leave Bobby Firmino? In his last 3 seasons at Hoffenheim, he averaged 9 goals and 8 assists a season – so perhaps a bit more balanced than the examples examined above. Last season, he took 2.9 shots per game, made 2.1 key passes and 4.2 dribbles – which actually points him to be closer to Sanchez than Ozil in this comparison – his scoring contribution was (in 2918 minutes played) 0.524, with 7 goals and 10 assists. These came in 33 starts, and was slightly down from his previous season. Another factor to his slow start at Anfield could be starting every game two seasons back to back, and representing Brazil at the Copa America this summer.But I am no sports scientist and cannot speculate on this in an informed manner.

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Using just one example of comparing Ozil and Alexis (given their 3 season stints in Spain prior to joining Arsenal), this could be a reason why Firmino is taking time to bed into Liverpool.

From my understanding, attacking midfielders can be ‘a Sanchez’; a direct runner, who takes a lot of shots, is good with the ball at their feet. Or, they could be more of ‘an Ozil’; less shots, more creativity, with an emphasis on assisting than scoring. The latter I feel requires a few things.

  • Understanding the role; making sure that the role and all the tasks a player has to complete on the pitch are understood and being met – and that they are comfortable doing so
  • Cohesion with teammates; for Ozil, players need to trust that if they make the run, Ozil can find them, and similarly that if they are to utilise his creativity, the man needs space. This positional understanding, trust & chemistry are important to ensure moves look as fluid as they can.
  • Acclimatising mentally & physically; this includes on and off the pitch. On the pitch, the pace, space and movement need to be adapted for the environment an attacking midfielder finds themselves, and off the pitch, the club should ensure that the player is in the right state of mind to perform and ‘hit the ground running’

In this vein, I feel that though Firmino may not have sparkled, his passing networks and interplay with his team-mates will increase similar to Ozil’s has, and he possesses the ability to run at full-backs and contribute in a way that Sanchez can. It’ll be interesting to see how Klopp utilises and changes the use of the Brazilian midfielder.

The Football League Awards – The Case for Daryl Murphy, Ipswich Town FC

The transformation and renaissance of Daryl Murphy has been incredible this season.

Aged 32 years old, the Irishman joined Ipswich Town permanently following three separate loan spells with the Blues, and since being moved to a more central position, has flourished. The 6 ft 3 striker is the current top scorer in the Championship this season, and has lit up Portman Road this season with some wonderful performances. Under Mick McCarthy and Terry Connor, Murphy’s finishing has improved and his work-rate is as faultless as it has been in the previous three spells.

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Much of Murphy’s career was spent on the left hand side due to his reliance on his left foot (14/24 of his goals have been with his left – 7 headers and 3 with his right foot) and his weaker foot was highlighted when he missed a glaring opportunity to put Ipswich 2-1 up against Brentford last month straight after half-time.

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The above graphic from Squawka shows the placement of Murphy’s goal placement – These are more varied than the other two contenders, Bamford and Deeney, and similarly a majority of his goals are taken from within the 18 yard area – with two long shots taken as well (vs. Cardiff and Brighton – I believe?)

Shots however, are where I feel Murphy (and to an extent his injured partner in crime David McGoldrick) fall down – The two have taken he most shots in the league, which could attribute to Murphy’s profilic goalscoring (though some have been goals of real quality)

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This moved Murphy’s conversion rate (goals per shot taken) to 15.8% – lower than that of Bamford (16.8%) and Deeney (17.3%) – He is also the main contributor to Ipswich’s goals with 35% of the goals scored in the Championship this season scored by the number 9. This said, his goalscoring has dropped off in 2015 along with Ipswich’s form and the emergence of new signing Freddie Sears. However, this has allowed Murphy to display his other attributes – his aerial prowess through flick ons and wins, as well as his tireless running along the opposition back four. Holding up the ball has meant that he has been able to bring other players into the game as Ipswich move forward.

The style that Ipswich have played this season of long forward passes and organised pressing/hard work has suited the attributes of Murphy’s game and this has been evidenced in his excellent season. The ITFC Player of the Year is a a front-running contender in the race for Championship Player of the Season, but Troy Deeney is arguably more deserving due to his prolific nature for the past three seasons. This said, without Murphy’s impact and influence, it could be argued that Ipswich – on their shoestring budget – would not be contending at the level they have found themselves this season, surrounded by teams with far better squads and finances.

The Football League Awards – The Case for Patrick Bamford, Middlesbrough FC

Patrick Bamford. Where to start with this guy.

Chelsea spent £1.5m on the then 18 year old after just 12 minutes of first-team football for Nottingham Forest, following scintillating displays in the FA Youth Cup – scoring 9 goals over two rounds (four goals in a 5-1 win at Southampton and five in the previous round – a 9-1 hammering of Wigan) meant the London club spent big on a prospective attacking midfielder or striker – a ‘centre forward’. Since moving to Chelsea, the youngster has been on loan at MK Dons, Derby and finally a season long loan at Middlesbrough which has lead to his nomination for both Young Player of the Year as well as Championship Player of the Year.

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Slightly different for Bamford, given he’s been farmed out on loan by the youngster-averse Chelsea FC – But he has excelled in the league, wherever he has been. Bamford is a player who thrives in the box – His pace, good feet and excellent finishing makes him a formidable asset to have. Boro have utilised him often behind a striker, and Bamford often overlaps to chase onto a flick on. Karanka’s system of patient, calm football means opponents are worn down before Bamford pulls his pacy party trick out of the bag – He twice made Tommy Smith of Ipswich look a fool as he cleverly outpaced the New Zealander to slot home two very good goals.

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Like Deeney, Bamford does a lot of his work within the 18-yard box. He loves to finish into the bottom right hand corner, as his two goals against Ipswich showed. Leadbitter, Reach and Lee Tomlin have all assisted 3 Bamford goals each, whilst Bamford himself has contributed to 5 goals in addition to his 17 (unsure why Squawka are only showing 16 in 36.. Dubious goals?)

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Bamford’s contribution of 17 goals is 27% of the total of 64 goals scored by Boro this term, and the Chelsea loanee has contributed 25 key passes, and taken 93 shots.

So, Patrick Bamford has played the least amount of minutes than the other two nominated for Player of the Season. Bamford has no doubt shown glimpses of real talent, and for me should be given a run in the Chelsea side (He probably won’t) but his inconsistent use as well as wider contribution to the team has been arguably less so than other players within the Championship. Many fans and players may feel slightly hard done by the inclusion of Bamford in a top 3 for the second tier of English football – but none will doubt the talent the youngster has.

Unexpected Lethargy; Huddersfield vs Ipswich review

It wasn’t a good day at the office, let’s be honest.

An extra days rest, a slightly rotated side and a buoyant mood following a draw against hotly tipped Bournemouth meant Ipswich were favourites to win the Huddersfield game, particularly from the viewpoint of the Blue Army following.

A la Watford, a rotated Ipswich side had fans on Twitter wondering why Bishop and Sears had dropped to the bench, and where David McGoldrick was as he was replaced by Stephen Hunt on the Ipswich bench. Zeki Fryers continued at left-back, with Chris Wood and Richard Chaplow coming into the side. The reported formation was 4-4-2, which would have seen Varney play down the right and Tabb on the left. My understanding of this was that it as a 4-4-2 off the ball moving to a more narrow 4-3-3 when in possession, with Varney and Murphy either side of Wood, spearheading the attack. Tabb and Chaplow would be either side of Skuse, who would do his usual job mopping up in front of the back four.

But it didn’t really pan out that way.
An early chance for Jay Tabb was blocked away and a early shot from Nakhi Wells was blocked by Tommy Smith of Ipswich; and just as Ipswich were beginning to get their way back into the game (following a minor scare for Cole Skuse), a wayward pass from Fryers toward Berra was underweighted, allowing Wells to show his talent to nip in and finish past Bialkowski. A balanced opening ten minutes was suddenly followed by a half dominated by the home side. Huddersfield by and large have nothing to play for, but seemed to utilise the absence of width in the Ipswich side and the lack of confidence being displayed when the Tractor Boys had the ball to wreck havoc down both flanks.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 18.34.55The heatmap above, from WhoScored shows a few key things. The middle of the park for both teams, particularly Huddersfield, was bypassed and emphasis was put on the flanks. Given the joy that was being found on Ipswich’s left, the young left back Zeki Fryers was targeted by Sean Scannell – Time and time again, the full-back seemed pegged back; in total, Fryers lost possession 3 times, more than any of his back 4 counterparts. The formation seemed to trouble Ipswich, as the 5-3-2 with both James and Scannell bombing forward especially with Conor Coady doubling up alongside Scannell when he could. The organisation and energy of the Terriers seemed to be greater, which is odd because that trait is normally associated with the energetic, hardworking Ipswich. After predicting a 2-0, 3-0 even 4-0 win before the game, fans were quick to scapegoat Chris Wood, Zeki Fryers and (of course) Tommy Smith for the woes that Ipswich faced being 2-0 at half time. As @Chompx3 on Twitter mentioned, W 13% D 27% L 60% is the record that Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich have in the league when going down by a goal.

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Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 18.46.36Chris Wood and Richard Chaplow were replaced at the break by Freddie Sears and Teddy Bishop but it was Jay Tabb who produced the cross for the energetic Luke Varney to nod home (becoming [via @Chompx3 again] Town’s 19th different scorer this season) – The introduction of Jonny Williams no doubt will have excited fans, but the energy and drive to carry the ball forward was too late and Ipswich dropped the 3 points.

The possession was just not there for Ipswich. Far too many wayward passes and the second half was when the team begun to get a foothold in the match. However, after spending much of the first half ball-watching and sweeping up the occasional Ipswich attack, the Huddersfield back three kept calm and were assured when releasing the ball. As the full-time heatmap shows, there was a definite move along the left hand side (Tabb, Williams) but not enough within the final third, whereas Huddersfield enjoyed dominance down the flanks.

With regards to Chris Wood, I’m on the New Zealander’s side. He’s not played much all season, but it just hasn’t clicked yet for the striker. Of the mid-season signings of Sears, Wood, Chaplow, Varney, Fryers and Williams, it was Wood who the Ipswich fans were crying for (ignoring the fondly named ‘Joniesta’) and it has been Sears, Varney and Chaplow who have made the impact (the ‘underwhelming signings’) So what’s gone wrong?
This could be linked to the fact that Wood is not a striker of the same mould as Murphy and Varney, in that his aerial prowess isn’t there when it comes to the flick ons and knock downs that the former two have become known for. Nor has he been on the ball enough to show a talent to create (of his 11 passes, 9 were forward but he lost possession 6 times in one half).

Zeki Fryers got some un-needed stick. Drafted in as a two-game replacement for Tyrone Mings, the Crystal Palace youngster stood up strong under a baptism of fire when Ipswich were incredibly lucky to gain a point at Portman Road. Against Hudderfield, he was targeted by Scannell whilst also being hassled by the likes of Coady, Wells and even Vaughan.

For this particular game, I would have rested Sears and Bishop yes, but instead of Wood, I’d rather have seen Paul Anderson on the right hand side, with Varney and Murphy up front feeding off each other. Both are strong in the air, and the crossing ability of Anderson coupled with his energy driving up and down the right hand channel would have been invaluable in defence and attack. I do not miss David McGoldrick, and the addition of Jonny Williams will be crucial off the bench, but the Tabb/Skuse axis with one of Bru/Bishop/Chaplow is one I think that works. The third striker is where I think the game was lost today – Varney works incredibly hard down the right, but if Sears was to be rested (ran his little socks off on Friday) then Anderson would have been the man to replace him in my opinion – if only for his dead ball delivery!

The next game, like this one, should not be underestimated. I feel Mick will show his stubbornness once more, but restore Mings at left-back, but continue with the front 5 – I’d imagine Sears will replace Wood. For a mass change, I’d haul off Murphy, who has not shown his late-2014 form of late (I’d wager that Murphy would have shot hard, early and true with his right after rounding the keeper – I’ve not seen the chance, but) (Perhaps the Brentford miss and Leeds penalty is still playing on his mind?) Though his running and aerial prowess is still there, would a front two of Varney and Sears not be worth trying? Or playing a **modern** narrow diamond of Williams, Tabb, Skuse and Bishop?

Blackpool, though relegated, have a team made up of players on one year deals. Virtually none will want to stay, I’d imagine, and they will be playing for a contract next season at a similar sized club – the rest of the season are job interviews for them. So the team should not be underestimated, and Ipswich need to return to the organised unit that press hard and play for each other – the ones which gained plaudits on Friday evening, and who worked hard to steal a win at Watford.

If Ipswich do not make the play-offs, which I believe we can but would not be disappointed if we did not, it will not be a huge issue. The team will have yet another summer to gel, develop the side and recruit within our means once more.

Any comments, debate or questions welcome to me on Twitter once more @Scribblr_42

Screenshots taken from WhoScored.com

Introducing (for this blog anyway) the PDO/SoT Ratio graph!

Before you look at this and or thing wtf is PDO, or why do SoT’s matter, a good collection of definitions in the ‘stats’ world is this here.

The above graph is produced by Owain Thomas, a dedicated Championship stats blogger (and Cardiff fan) – his Twitter is here.

So left to right is the % share of shots on target a team has over the season. Bottom to top is their scoring% + save%. As Owain’s graph shows, the higher a team is, the ‘luckier’ the are, the further right they are they ‘better’ they are. Green dots are those in automatic promotion,

I feel sorry for Blackpool, patched together a team at the start and it just hasn’t clicked. Not sure whether they’ll survive, plus the stuff coming out of Bloomfield Road about the Oyston quotes from that textual flurry.

Notable also, is the position of Middlesborough – many Town fans (arguably, on that unbiased medium, Twitter) were commenting on how poor Leadbitter looked and how they were surprised at how Ipswich dominated. The buzzword that I subscribed to and agreed with was organisation. Mick has really organised the team well and the squad is beginning to get to a level of understanding between the key positions – translating into being a difficult team to break down on the pitch. Boro, however, generally have been very good – and beyond Bournemouth being a quick, very flash side who score a hat load of goals whilst rarely keeping a clean sheet, Karanka’s men are a lot more regimental in their approach. I think they will be there or there abouts come May.

Derby are an odd one. Given their personnel, they should be far and away dominating this league. Solid manager, strong squad and some exceptional individuals (Bryson, Martin and of course, Hughes are all awesome players – back 4 are equally solid) yet they seem to have been slipping up here and there. Highest PDO in the league and a fairly average Shorts on Target ratio. They should be doing much better with the players they have.. Efficiency springs to mind.

Brentford, our Boxing Day opponents, are very much in a similar boat to Town. Similar PDO/SoT, and seem an organised team. One of those squads which has been promoted and fears no-one. Their manager has them ready for every game, would be a pity if they don’t make play-offs at least. It’s a funny division, this, and I worry if they stay this year, they could be in a relegation scrap next term.

Blackburn, the team I have a little soft spot for, also plodding along nicely. IMO, should be doing better with the talent they have, particularly in both the middle of the park (Cairney) and at the back (Hanley, also Jason Steele – one of the better keepers in this division). Up front, of course, they have Jordon Rhodes and Rudy Gestede. I could be wrong, but Gestede seems to have been pushed wide a few times. He’s a talented lad, and one I’d want Mick to go for should we get promoted/lose McGoldrick, but his talents are wasted on the wings. He knows how to stick the pigskin in the onion bag.

Fulham, Brighton & Wolves get notable mentions. I wanted Wolves to be doing a bit better than they are, especially with some of the talent they have – Fulham have begun to show why their yoof are so highly rated, and McCormack has found his shooting boots and got a bit fitter. Scott Parker’s not doing too bad either is he? Need to be more efficient with their shooting, and experience will benefit the youngsters. One or two seasons, and there’s some real talent at the club who can push on. Brighton have just lost Sami, so expect a minor surge when the new manager comes in. They’re not a bad team, I just feel for Hyypia. Seems like he put his hands up and said it wasn’t working, so fair play but I like to see a manager either go at this point or stay till the season ends and then go pretty soon. It allows the new man to prepare, get his head around the club and pick out areas he wants to improve.

So Town seem to be doing good on more metrics than I’d imagine – but the league is so barmy, any team who can string 3-6 results together can suddenly be amongst it and the optimism can sling them to the big prize.

What on earth happened to Darren Bent?

Darren Bent burst onto the scene as a 17 year old at Ipswich Town, making 3 starts and scoring once against Middlesborough in the 2001-2 season. As an Ipswich fan, I take pride in our youth system, and Bent came through with the ‘other’ Darren, Darren Ambrose as two promising players who moved on in the future following financial woes at the club.

Darren Bent was exciting. He was a true goalscorer and had the pace and power to frighten defenders – and most of all, and most importantly, he knew where the back of the net was (as the cliche goes) – so what has gone wrong and why is Bent, one of the hot young properties in England, now a 30 year old struggling to get a game at Aston Villa (after being frozen out last summer, bizarrely after being handed the interim captaincy which subsequently lead to a move to Fulham)

So let’s break his career down;

Ipswich Town FC
I could do a biographical piece, wax lyrical about how he was always eager, worked hard and had the confidence and pace at such a young age to take players on – how at a birthday party when I was 7-10 or something he was at Laser Quest and signed my friend, the birthday boy’s cast. How he was part of the Joe Royle dawn, where we coulda shoulda woulda been promoted with a team of very average players who worked incredibly well together.

ANYWAY.
Here’s how he did;

    Age Apps Starts Mins Goals Assists PG NPG Mins/G P90 Ap90 NPGp90 SCp90
ITFC 2001-2 17 6 3 320 1 0 0 1 320 3.6 0.00 0.281 0.281
ITFC 2002-3 18 35 24 2328 12 0 0 12 194 25.9 0.00 0.464 0.464
ITFC 2003-4 19 36 31 2842 16 0 0 16 178 31.6 0.00 0.507 0.507
ITFC 2004-5 20 45 45 3932 20 16 0 20 197 43.7 0.37 0.458 0.824

2004-5 is the tasty season – the meaty one where he scored 20 in the league and assisted 16. The partnership with the Big Finn Shefki Kuqi was monsterous, and as I mentioned and bemoaned, Town should have been promoted. But in any league, in any season, 20G and 16A are incredible – reflected in an impressive scoring contribution of 0.824 per 90 – for context, Benzema last season’s was 0.84, Neymar was 0.83 and Ross McCormack was 0.785.

So this curve is a combination of staying fit, playing games and being the focal point of every Town attack. Then came a failed promotion, the hawks circled and just like that, he was a £3m Charlton Athletic player.

Charlton
Bent moved aged just 21 in 2005-6 (Crucial); he was at the height of his confidence, ready to take the Premier League by storm. And he kinda did. Scoring twice I think on his debut, then finishing his first season as the highest scoring English striker. Nailed on to go to Germany ’06 and tear that up too, the young and hungry Bent. Right? He should be on that plane with Rooney, Owen and Peter Crouch, right? Wrong.
Sven picked f*cking Theo Walcott (who hasn’t been to a World Cup since). 16 year old Theo Walcott. Fresh from signing on to Arsenal.

England were knocked out on penalties by Portugal and Walcott did not play a minute. Peter Crouch lead the line against Portugal because Owen was injured and Walcott was.. well… 16.

Anyway, enough of me moaning. This is how he did;

    Age Apps Starts Mins Goals Assists PG NPG Mins/G P90 Ap90 NPGp90 SCp90
CAFC 2005-6 21 36 36 3160 18 0 3 15 176 35.1 0.00 0.427 0.427
CAFC 2006-7 22 32 32 2863 13 1 3 10 220 31.8 0.03 0.314 0.346

Eh. Less exciting but still a good number of minutes played, and a very solid return. Started taking penalties at Charlton too – Tommy Miller wouldn’t ever let him near the ball at Town. Anyway, 25 non-penalty goals in 68 appearances is nothing to be ashamed off. So what do Spurs do?
They sign him for £16.5m – with add-ons I guess. Insane.

Tottenham Hotspur
And so it began. Spurs signed him and there was HUGE pressure for him to perform. In a team where Defoe and Keane ruled, how was young 23 year old Darren gonna get a game? Harry had faith. Right?

    Age Apps Starts Mins Goals Assists PG NPG Mins/G P90 Ap90 NPGp90 SCp90
THFC 2007-8 23 27 11 1149 6 5 0 6 192 12.8 0.39 0.470 0.862
THFC 2008-9 24 33 21 2175 12 2 1 11 181 24.2 0.08 0.455 0.538

Faith or no faith, his first season, Bent didn’t start much at all – just 11 starts, and 16 appearances from the bench. HOWEVER – check out that scoring contribution. 0.862 – higher than ITFC levels, but again, pinch of salt. The boy was coming off the bench, but he was assisting again. Which was good.

Season 2, not so good. 11NPG and 2A but 21 starts. More game time = less insane scoring stats. Either way, 0.538 means he had a hand in a goal every other game he played. Good stuff. So no wonder Sunderland came a-knocking, with a £10m rising to £16.5m fee agreed.

Sunderland AFC
Boom, Bent is approaching his prime here – and it’s another World Cup year. Capello seems like a guy who knows what he’s doing right? So Bent moves up the country to Wearside, and the Stadium of Light. Starts every single game, 19NPG, 4A and a SCp90 of 0.612. Bish, bash, bosh. Nope – not enough. Rooney, Defoe, Heskey and Crouch chosen, and Benty left at home. Disappointed again.

Ted Knutson of the wonderful, beautiful StatsBomb has actually done a great radar on this season. This visual aid is much better to understand than my data dumps and non-visuals.

    Age Apps Starts Mins Goals Assists PG NPG Mins/G P90 Ap90 NPGp90 SCp90
SAFC 2009-10 25 38 38 3383 24 4 5 19 141 37.6 0.11 0.505 0.612
SAFC/AVFC 2010-11 26 36 36 3128 17 2 3 14 184 34.8 0.06 0.403 0.460

Hmm. Second season he secures a HUGE money move to Aston Villa – £18-24m is quoted. He repays that by scoring more goals in the second half of the season than the first. Villa love him, they’ve got a goalscorer and Martin O’Neil has the money to make things happen. All is wonderful. Rosy.

Then the injuries begin.

Aston Villa ft. Fulham

Bent’s time at Aston Villa is a weird one. He’s still there, aged 30 – but he was frozen out last summer and spend the summer on loan to Fulham (doomed for relegation. Chaos that was)

    Age Apps Starts Mins Goals Assists PG NPG Mins/G P90 Ap90 NPGp90 SCp90
SAFC/AVFC 2010-11 26 36 36 3128 17 2 3 14 184 34.8 0.06 0.403 0.460
AVFC 2011-12 27 22 21 1858 9 1 2 7 206 20.6 0.05 0.339 0.388
AVFC 2012-13 28 16 8 815 3 1 0 3 272 9.1 0.11 0.331 0.442
FFC 2013-14 29 24 11 1249 3 2 0 3 416 13.9 0.14 0.216 0.360

Definitely in decline. 2011-12 ended in injury for the big man, 2012-13 was recovery and eventual freeze out and 13-14 was a loan to a club where Berba was the main man for a bit, then Bent came back into the fold toward the end (still, scored a goal at Old Trafford to crash Moyes’s party)

Now 30, Bent (in my eyes, and from the scoring stats) is still a good player.

Ipswich fans, Murphy’s SCp90 last term was 0.462 and McG finished with 0.540 – Nouble was similar to Bent with 0.350 (doesn’t mean they’re similar – I mean it does, but don’t let this prejudice you)

So what has happened to Darren Bent? A crisis in confidence, the wrong moves at the wrong times, and little faith. This should be a cautionary tale to any young, budding striker who moves to a Premier League club for big money. Is Connor Wickham the next? Jordan Rhodes is one who can be regarded a success – dropped a division, scored mad goals and then got a big move to the Championship – where he’s still on of the best strikers.

I’d love Darren Bent back at Ipswich. Would be an excellent swansong, but that’s my rose tinted glasses.

 

 

Championship Transfer Roundup

Following a record breaking summer in 2014 in the Premier League, Championship clubs have also been similarly busy as 24 teams gear up to continue their assault on the league in order to win promotion to the most lucrative league in the world.

Relegated teams Fulham, Norwich and Cardiff flexed their cash muscle and recruited some top players. Fulham raised eyebrows by signing Ross McCormack for a princely £11m – which was put into context by the signing of Shane Long and Mario Balotelli in the Premier League. But with parachute payments and the huge cash injection that promotion can bring, in the grand scheme of things, spending that much money could be a shrewd move in 12 months time.

Over the next few posts, I’ll go through each of the teams and pick out the key transfers, including the stats if I have them. I don’t know each player extensively, nor do I know that much about each of the 24 clubs, but will give a view where I can.

As always, any questions/queries/debate, contact/follow me on Twitter – @Scribblr_42