EFL League Two: Finding a replacement for Jerry Yates – data analysis
In this article, I will be using both data and tactical analysis to identify a replacement for Jerry Yates at EFL side Swindon Town. I will be looking for players who have competed in at least 20 games in the past season, operating in both EFL League One and Two, for which a newly promoted side can attract. With Yates loan finishing at the end of the season, there is the possibility he may not return, leaving Swindon with a hole they need to fill in their title-winning side.
The 23-year-old Rotherham United loanee bagged 13 goals as Swindon claimed the title on a points per game basis, moving above Crewe Alexandra. Subsequently, with Yates’s parent club Rotherham also gaining promotion to the Championship, this may leave the door open to a return to the County Ground.
However, with Yates impressive form and the current pandemic leading to sides having to reduce their budgets, Rotherham may have to look to what they have before recruiting Rotherham aim to avoid the drop. This could lead to Yates getting his shot at the Championship, leaving Swindon to go looking for a replacement, to partner the already permanent signing of Eoin Doyle.
In this data analysis, I will be identifying a replacement for Jerry Yates through data and statistics to bring up a shortlist. Then I will be using video footage to discuss their suitability to the role required by Swindon.
Jerry Yates at Swindon
Yates role has changed throughout the season dependent on Swindon’s tactical approach. In a 4-2-3-1, Yates has operated in either of the three positions behind the striker. When Swindon operated with a 4-3-3, Yates would occupy one of the wide positions. Second top goalscorer behind the impressive Doyle, there is no doubting his replacement will need to be able to carry the goal-scoring burden.
To identify Yates replacement, we have to look at Yates stats himself. Identifying areas where he has performed above the average in League 2, as well as important to the style Swindon operate gives us six performance Indicators, shown in Yates radar above. From here I identified the players in league 1 and 2 who performed above average in these six (Xg and Xg per 90 paired, same as Cross % and Cross per 90) areas. This gave a list of players who were then whittled down to those who show above-average statistics in at least five of the six areas.
Progressions Data Analysis
As already mentioned, Yates replacement must be able to provide goals. However, with no assists for Yates this season, this point towards a player who either is the recipient of an assist or progresses the ball himself while in possession. Yates, operating in multiple positions draws on his ability to carry the ball, showing above the average in both dribbles per 90 (2.62) and progressive runs per 90 (1.31).
On the first look at comparing Yates to potential replacements the first player who stands out is Sunderland’s, Lynden Gooch. The versatile winger showing the highest dribbles per 90 with 6.46, as well as higher than Yates for progressive runs of 1.72.
Next up is Nathan Delfouneso of Blackpool. Opposite to Gooch, Delfouneso shows the highest progressive runs with 2.55, while still holding an impressive 4.3 dribbles per 90
Lucas Atkins completes the list, with solid stats across both parameters. 1.89 progressive runs per 90, with 4.12 dribbles, leaves Atkins very central for this graphic.
Conversion to touch Data Analysis
With Swindon gaining promotion, the defences they will come up against will be of a higher quality to that of league 2 as sides drop from the championship. Although games against these sides won’t determine Swindon’s survival, having a striker who doesn’t need to be in the area to score is still highly desirable.
Yates himself shows a conversion rate of 24%, with on average 3.83 touches in the box per 90. Bein the standout player on the graph, any other options will have to be close in at least one parameter to feature.
First is Walsall’s Elijah Adebayo. The former Swindon man shows not only a high number of touches in the area per 90 with 4.57, but also an impressive goal conversion at 19%. Again, Gooch impresses with 3.28 touches in the box per 90 and second behind Yates in goal conversion with 23.4%. These two standout especially given their success in at least one of the two parameters, with Gooch showing a closer resemblance to Yates statistically wise.
Given the statistical data, I have identified a shortlist of three potential players that could be an alternative for Yates. Each player provides a slightly different skill, but all show similar attributes with the Englishman of who can fit into Swindon’s system according to data.
The next step is to take a tactical analysis look on each player to evaluate the individual’s style compared to that of Yates at Swindon.
Adebayo has played 1675 minutes, the lowest of the options, yet still managed 30 matches. However, Adebayo stands out for his exceptional conversion rate as mentioned of 19.05% highlighting his ability to be clinical in front of goal given his first season away from Fulham permanently. With 8 goals and an expected goal total of 11.29, he is performing slightly under expectations, yet also showing the highest expected goals per 90 at 0.61. However, with his conversion statistics, there is clear potential to be unearthed. A step up to league one would be a challenge for Adebayo, but at a newly promoted side, there is likely to be less pressure given his age and experience. With a low market value and one year left on his contract, there is room to negotiate, with a step up likely too much to turn down.
Playing as a striker as part of a two-man attack for Walsall, Adebayo certainly shows the physical attributes to make the step up. Adebayo’s ability to come deep and receive as well as make movements in behind highlights the potential to be a mobile number 10 in Swindon’s system operating in between the lines.
With Swindon being highly effective off the counterattack, Adebayo shows the pace and power in possession to progress up the pitch, with fewer progressive runs understandably coming down to his advanced position. In a side next season who may have to defend deeper, relying on the counterattack, Adebayo showcases the attributes required to play out wide as well as centrally. Adebayo can receive in between the lines and drive towards the area, as shown in the example below. With Swindon facing larger budget sides next season, a player with the ability to turn and drive at his opponent could be a vital asset to counter-attack when under the cash.
The Sunderland academy product has certainly shown impressive statistics, adding goals to his game this season. A versatile player, able to operate both wide and centrally behind the forward, Gooch performs above his expected goals tally of 7.4, finishing with 11 goals. Gooch also boasts premier league experience since his debut against Manchester City in 2013. With a market value of 540,000, and two seasons left on his contract, Gooch is certainly the most unrealistic signing on the list, but a clear example of the type of player Swindon will be looking for.
Gooch has grown in his role, since the sale of George Honeyman, Gooch has certainly look to take on the pressure. With Swindon’s changing systems, Gooch is a perfect example of a player who can alter their game to what is required. As mentioned earlier, Gooch shows the highest dribbles per 90 from those identified, picking the ball up from deep to attract defenders, leaving space elsewhere as shown in the example below. As mentioned earlier with Adebayo, Gooch’s ability to drive with the ball would come in useful given their counter-attacking style. With his small stature, Gooch is certainly a player to get around Doyle to support in high areas.
The final player on this shortlist is one with a different skill set, but still an option. Formerly a Premier League forward with Aston Villa, Delfouneso doesn’t show the goal-scoring statistics with only 3, performing under his expected goals tally at 5.05. However, given his slightly deeper role this season for Blackpool, Delfouneso has still shown his ability to create with a 30% cross accuracy. With a market value of 225,000 and a season left on his contract, it would be a possible sideways step for Delfouneso. However, at the age of 29, Delfouneso shows experience at this level with the stats to prove his impact which could help fill the void left by Yates.
Where Delfouneso shows his biggest attribute is driving from deep. With the highest progressive runs of those identified allowing him to penetrate the final third, either shifting possession out wide, as shown in the example below. Or making a move into the inside channel to cross for the aerial presence of Armand Gnanduillet. Delfouneso still shows the pace to play in the wide areas if needed, but as this drops, the technical ability will allow him to have more a central role to spread possession to those with pace in wide areas.
With the options on show, the stats point towards Adebayo to be best fit for Swindon replacing the outgoing Yates. Adebayo’s goal conversion alongside his most likely cheap asking price with potential to grow makes him an ideal candidate. Showing strong statistics across all six performance indicators gives me the confidence he can make the step up and fill the void left behind.
The lure of league one football would likely be too much for a player like Adebayo to turn down, it will be sorting his consistency to take chances which will give him the chance to have an impact. Although a former Swindon player, Adebayo has really benefitted from a full season of first-team football with the stats to show its impact on his development, making him a good option for Yates role.