Scott Allan 2019/20 – scout report
Scott Allan’s football career has been very tremulous, to say the least, since his promotion to the first-team squad at Dundee United where his youth career was developed. He has been signed by five different clubs and has been loaned out eight times in a period of just 10 years. Allan had his first taste of senior football in 2010 when he was loaned from Dundee United out second division side Forfar Athletic, before returning to Dundee United where he impressed at the start of the 2011/12 in the Scottish Premiership, sparking interest from the Premier League.
West Brom signed the midfielder in 2012 but he failed to make an appearance for the Premier League side and after loan spells with Portsmouth, Milton Keynes Dons, and Birmingham City, he was released at the end of the 2013/2014 season. Allan then returned back to Scottish football, signing with Hibernian, and after a good season for the Edinburgh club, Celtic signed him. He struggled once more to get into the side where he was loaned out a further three times before Hibernian resigned him at the start of the 2019/20 season.
This season Allan has settled well in the Hibernian team, playing his best football and being an important cog in Jack Ross’ midfield. In this tactical analysis in the form of a scout report, we will examine how Scott Allan has become a key player for Hibernian. The report will also outline key attributes that make the 28-year-old a creative spark in the attacking midfield position this season.
Scott Allan has been deployed in an advanced central position just behind the striker(s) as an attacking midfielder in either a 4-2-3-1 or more commonly of late a 3-4-1-2 formation. The midfielder’s task is to play in between the lines and look to receive the ball and create goal-scoring opportunities for his teammates. He certainly achieves this as he has fantastic vision and has an exquisite passing ability.
Allan attempts 35.06 passes per game, with a 72% pass accuracy rate. His accuracy may be below the average for a midfielder in the league but that is because he plays more risker passes,; he is always looking to play incisive passes into dangerous positions for his teammates and so in his attempt, his passes are more likely to be cut out. The Hibs midfielder is never deterred from playing these types of passes and has the ability to punish disorganisation in an oppositions defensive structure if it arises.
The 28-year-old has all the attributes for an extremely effective playmaker as he has great awareness of space to receive the ball, great vision to spot teammates in dangerous positions and has the range and weight on the ball to execute a defence-splitting pass. This is evident in the move below against Aberdeen where Hibernian win the ball back and Allan creates a good angle to receive it in acres of space.
Before receiving the ball, Allan scans over his shoulder checking where the opposition players are but also the positioning of any teammates on the left-wing. Recognising he has space and time, while also realising there are no teammates in an advanced position on the left, he smartly dribbles over to the right where there are more Hibs players. Out in space on the right-wing is Martin Boyle who makes a run from his wide position into the right half-space.
Allan has the vision to see the run early and the execution to play a perfectly weighted ball in behind. Boyle does not have to break stride as he is through on goal and finishes past Joe Lewis. The attacking midfielder’s passing ability and creative endeavour have resulted in the 28-year-old contributing to eight assists this season which is the fourth-best in the league.
Allan is very effective in the final third but he also contributes and is an important figure in progressing the ball forward where he plays 6.74 progressive passes p/90 – only Danny Swanson from St. Johnstone and Celtic’s Oliver Ntcham have played more. Coupled with this, the midfielder has got four second assists and two third assists which shows how important the midfielder is in the build-up and supply of chances for his team.
What makes the 28-year-old so effective is his ability to deceive and manipulate the opposition with his body positioning and his exquisite passing. We see this in full effect against Motherwell as Allan receives the ball under pressure in midfield and his body position and hips are facing out to the right. The red arrows signify the passes the opposition anticipates the Hibs midfielder can make due to his body position.
This causes the pivot for Motherwell to press forward to try and either tackle or intercept the closest lateral pass which creates space in behind. Allan has manipulated the midfielder and pulled him out of position as the 28-year-old with his great passing ability threads an unexpected ball (yellow arrow) into Florian Kamberi which catches the opposition out. The pass is the crucial element that cuts the defensive unit open before Hibs end the move with a goal.
Shooting and finishing
The attacking midfielder’s precision passing and his ability to trick and manipulate the opposition with his body position, as mentioned in the previous point, has been translated to his shooting and finishing. The 28-year-old has the ability to sell the keeper into positioning himself incorrectly and the ability to place the ball precisely into space opens up, which was evident in the game against St.Mirren.
Allan receives the ball at the edge of the box and he dribbles into the area towards the penalty spot where he bears down on goal. As the midfielder shapes up to shoot, he is engaged from a defender on his left, causing his hips to point out to the right and it looks like his shot will follow the trajectory of the red arrow below.
The keeper anticipates this type of shot so he moves his feet across and sets himself to dive out his left, however in doing so it opens up space in the opposite corner. Allan has the precision to finish the ball into this corner (yellow arrow), cleverly deceiving the goalkeeper and the nature of the low finish makes it extremely difficult for the keeper to recover across and make the save.
The Hibs midfielder has certainly improved his shooting and finishing this year but coupled with this, he looks hungry to score goals which have seen him record his best goal return in his career this season with five goals. Allan is also second in the goal-scoring ranks for Hibernian this season behind striker Christian Doidge. The midfielder looks to get himself in or around the box and instead of just providing the chances, he now finishes more of them as well, which was evident in the game against St.Mirren.
In the move below, Hibs are on the counter-attack where the ball makes its way up to Allan in space. He drives forward with the ball before playing it out to Boyle in support in a more advanced position out on the right-wing. Recognising the opportunity and lack of options in the middle, Allan continues his run forward into the box.
Boyle gets to the crossing position and spots the run from the midfielder at the edge of the box. Allan makes a darting run just inside the box, attacking the space and Boyle cuts the ball back to the midfielder running onto the ball. The 28-year-old hits a first-time deft finish down into the far bottom corner past the keeper.
Taking into account all the goals and assists, including second and third assists, Scott Allan has directly contributed or been involved in 45% of Hibernian’s total goals this season, which shows the midfielder is an extremely crucial element in the creation and scoring of goals in John Ross’ side.
There is a perception about creative flair players like Scott Allan being good when his team is in possession but when they are asked to work defensively, they tend not to contribute and are not willing to get ‘stuck in’ and win the ball back for their team. The midfielder certainly does not fall in this category, he might not be flying into tackles but instead, he is more selective, waiting for the right opportunities to be aggressive and press/counter-press or being passive with his defensive positioning by blocking off passing lanes/ disrupting the opposition build-up.
Allan is quite effective in Hibernian’s defensive unit in terms of recovering the ball high up the pitch, creating dangerous attacking platforms for him and his team to create goal-scoring opportunities. In the visual below, we see how effective the attacking midfielder is at winning the ball back mainly through a combination of counter-pressing and positioning.
The 28-year-old is covering and winning the ball back in the central zone which is disrupting the opposition’s build up play well, contributing effectively defensively but also by gaining the ball in this position he is picking it up in the most dangerous attacking zone referred to as ‘Zone 14’ in which to capitalise and create opportunities. Allan’s defensive actions in the final third have led to being directly involved in Hibernian scoring three goals.
The attacking midfielder has great anticipation and coupled with his defensive positioning, he is very effective in creating attacking opportunities from defensive phases of play like in the game against St. Johnstone. The St. Johnstonesquad have possession of the ball with their midfielder but he is forced back towards his own goal by a Hibs player. Sensing an opportunity to win the ball back, Allan comes from his central position across to help his teammate.
The 28-year-old doesn’t aggressively dive into to win the ball back but he instead blocks any forward passing lane to the centre, leaving the St. Johnstone midfielder with one passing option behind. Allan waits and anticipates the pass back, and with pressure coming from his Hibs teammate, the pass is not struck with as much pace as Allan is able to incercept it and capitalise on the opposition’s disorganisation by running straight down on goal and scoring past the keeper.
Area of concern
Allan is such an influential and important figure in terms of goal creation and overall goal contribution for Hibs, as shown in this analysis. But better quality opposition like Celtic and Rangers are able to disrupt Hibernian’s build-up play and while also keeping sustained possession, they force Allan to drop, thus he doesn’t receive the ball and they curb his influence as a result.
In the game against Rangers in December, Gerrard’s tactics shut off the supply to Allan by keeping sustained possession and also disrupting Hibs by pressing them high, forcing them into high hopefuls balls which did not favour the 5ft 8 midfielder. Also, Gerrard instructed Ryan Jack to man-mark Allan, resulting in the midfielder having just 28 total actions in the game which is way below his average of 56 actions per game.
Rangers won that game and didn’t concede as they effectively stopped the supply to Hibs’ main creative spark. Allan tried to drop to get on the ball to dictate the play and become more influential but this causes the concern over the midfielder as he doesn’t have the athleticism or strength to play in a deeper central midfield role. We can see that below against Rangers as the Hibs midfielder drops to receive the ball.
He receives the ball in space and tries to dribble past Jack but he doesn’t have the athleticism to drive by the Rangers midfielder or the physicality as he is shrugged off the ball too easily, highlighting the fact he can be overwhelmed in a deeper midfield role. He is able to create from deep if given space but if he is in the position for a sustained amount of time against a good quality team and players he can be overrun as he does not have the physicality when pressed to retain the ball.
Scott Allan is having a tremendous year this season and is one of the most creative players in the league this season. His passing ability and vision are exquisite as he cuts open opposition defences at will and it is a joy to watch. The midfielder has added a goal-scoring threat to his game which makes him even more dangerous for teams coming up against him. Overall he is a vital cog in the Hibernian midfield in both attacking and defensive phases of play.
The 28-year-old career has been a bit of rollercoaster but it looks like he has finally found the perfect fit at Hibernian under Jack Ross, where the former Sunderland manager’s tactics facilitate and nurture the attacking midfielder’s strengths and undoubted talent.