South Shields – Moneyball Blueprint Series – Ep2

Welcome to the South Shields Moneyball blog series update. If you missed the last series update of the save, then you can view this (HERE).

Today, we will be going over the following:

  • How we found a new striker with the use of data
  • Final half of season results & league table update
  • Data Analysis on current squad
  • Data Analysis on finding targets for next season
  • Plan for next season

How we used data to find our lethal number 9:

So, as you would have seen in the last update, although we were having a high amount of shots on goal, we were lacking the final finish. January came and we could not wait till the end of the season before reviewing this further as this could be the difference between us going up and staying in the same league and missing out on promotion.

So myself and Beth (Recruitment Analyst) got to work and used the data available to us to identify the new number 9. There was a series of factors that we had to bear in mind such as, the value of the player as we had no transfer budget, availability, game time and their output in their current games.

With the help of the data hub, we were able to quickly see what we were looking for in a striker. So, reviewing the above and taking into account other metrics, we found that the strikers were getting the shots off but just not converting them simply. Therefore, the first metric I would look for in a new striker is their shots on target ratio along with their XG and of course goals.

With goals, it is a little tricky as some teams may not be providing the right service to the striker, so we mostly looked at shots on target/XG.

I could not retrieve the actual live example but this will give a good idea of how we were reviewing the players available to us. Firstly, we can see the strikers shots per 90 and then shots on target per 90. Straight away, Heath caught our eye as he is ranking high in both departments which is ideal.

Along with the above, we reviewed the XG compared to Goals data. If we look at the above data and the below, we can see that Jalloh is a player we should be looking at right away as he is not only getting his shots off he is converting them well.

These are just a few examples of the type of data we had to review before making a shortlist of a few players. Jalloh was of course on the shortlist however, a work permit prevented us to progress talks with the player. Then we went to look at Heath however, his club wanted a fee for the striker, which prevented us from talking to him too. Our 3rd choice and Beth’s preferred option was Kai Brown, who also showed up well however, not available to display at present. Statistically the player looked like the solution to our problems and we made the free signing!

Scroll across to check out our new signing, further details.

Final Half Results:

As we can see, a fairly great run overall. This great run was helped with no further cup games which we had to participate in and here is a fun stat. Kai Brown our new number 9 was signed after the Witton defeat and we lost 1 game out of the last 15, was this enough to go up as champions?

League Table:

WE ARE GOING UP! Almost hit the 100 points mark as we ended the season in style. Overall, I was very pleased with the football played along the way and most importantly, we are promoted! Here is some high level stats which shows how well the team did this season:

As we can see above, we were a very dominating side overall and look very threating on the attack especially.

Data Analysis On Current Squad:

In this section, we will be doing a high level overview on the current squad and see who there main performers were. This data helped me figure out who will remain at the side next season and who we need to move on and find stronger replacements as we will enter a completive league next season.

CB:

  • Shaw is also our assistant who played less of a part during the season and he will be leaving the club as we search for a new assistant and a strong centre half
  • Agnew who was in the youth team has stepped up well, a good backup for next season
  • Morse and Bodenham had solid seasons and looking for more the same next season

FB:

  • Hunter was the most consistent performer and contributed to more assists than the other full backs
  • Neary was another player brought up from the youth who didn’t play too many games but didn’t do a bad job, covering for Adams
  • McGowan, a winger by trade but utilised him in full back and did a decent job covering

CM:

  • Rose/Ross were the CDM’s this season. Rose had a great season protecting the backline and also contributed with 8 goals along the way
  • Briggs has been a great asset for the team, playing as a CM on attack mainly and overall a great season along with Lowe who established himself in the team
  • Tee had lesser games than Briggs & Lowe however, shows great potential for the future and scored 10 goals last season for the club

Wingers:

  • Kempster was the top performer and one of the best at the club, a great contribution from out side scoring 19 goals
  • Hooper had a decent season too however, has not been performing well in training and his work off the ball to help the team when tracking back is something I had noticed and will need to bear in mind for next season, especially with the teams style of play
  • Main had lesser game time than the other players but was unable to make a good contribution, he will be moving on next season

Strikers:

  • Despite playing almost half the games, our new signing Brown has solved the issue of putting away our chances. He has come in and scored 10 goals, almost the same as the other 2 strikers at the club. As we can see, Brown has also a better shot on target reading and gets off more shots on goal per game
  • Massanka, mainly a target man did help the team but was not able to be as clinical. Certainly a good player to bring off the bench
  • Despite scoring 11 goals, we had high hopes for Osei however, he made most of his appearances off the bench & towards the end of the season played out wide

Example Of How We Are Recruiting For Next Season:

So, in this section I will just do a quick overview on how we will be looking for players to strengthen out team for next season. If I did it for each section and every bit of detail, I will long out this write up however, willing to do a separate topic on player recruitment if enough people want to know more on this.

For the sake of the example, we will look at how we find the best possible right back on offer purely off data.

Firstly, as we seen earlier from the data hub that crossing is a big part in our game from the full backs, this is something we need to look at for our next recruit. We then seen how our current right back Hunter assisted 13 goals, which mostly came from crosses so this metric here is quite important to us. We can see below, a graphic of the best right backs available to us based on crossed attempted vs completed.

Next up, we want to match the above with ensuring the ideal right back also is good in the tackling department. Again, from the data hub we seen that this is something which we needed to improve on, therefore a metric that we will be ensuring is included in the relevant positions.

Once we do a few more of the above with some further metrics, we shortlist the top few players per graphic and then throw them into a shortlist.

As per above, we group up the players and then compare them against each other in a lot more detail and factor things such as games played and versatility. Just by the above graphic, we have shortlisted Callum Mendez-Jones as he is someone who appears to tick the boxes we require for a right back such as his crossing abilities along with his actual assists in the season.

We would repeat the above on all the other positions and shortlist regardless of if we actually need a player for that position or not. This is because at anytime you player could be linked with another club and move on, we need to be ahead of the game and replace fast.

Next Season Plans:

Going to the VNL (North) next season will be tough and competitive for sure, therefore it is important we make some quality singings.

The vision is to play the same football in the same way and start to add in some quality to the side, which I am sure you will see in the next update. We had our yearly youth intake, the first one for the club as previously there was only a handful of youth available.

As we can see, some great talent that we have inherited and can develop. The plan is to also try and pick up some youth released players and start to build on this team, where in the future the players can have a pathway to the first team and if good enough be picked up for a free by the bigger clubs, so the club can make a profit.

We want to apply the similar model to Brentford and ideally look to profit from our signings, as realistically we wont be able to compete when it comes to our own budget.

Conclusion:

That rounds it up for today’s series, again a detailed update on how things are going up north! I have found a real passion for analysing and that is why my recent blogs have been more detailed, as I have more of a interest in this and actually benefit from the data so I can improve the team.

Next update will be interesting as we find out how the Shields get on in a competitive league and who comes through the door next!

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