South Shields – Moneyball Blueprint Series – Can We Compete? – Ep3

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:

  • Transfer Business
  • Pre Season
  • Half way point results & League table
  • Data Hub View
  • Performance Analysis
  • Board Meeting

Transfer Business:

So, we start by reviewing the incoming transfers for the upcoming season post the team’s promotion to the Vanarama North.

As I detailed in the last series, I gave a deep insight into how we go about recruiting players and the amount of data we review before even considering a move for a player.

Our first official “Moneyball” signing was our new number 9 Brown, who we picked up mid-way through last season. He happened to make the difference in terms of us going up automatically, by banging in the goals which we previously lacked.

The signings below, again were carefully selected. We identified a few positions which we needed to strengthen and had various players on the shortlist but due to many reasons such as player availability, wage budget, demands etc, it was not as simple to pick up the ideal player right away.

However, I was very happy with the signings below as these were ranked very well in their positions stats wise. As we can see, no loan signings or buying players from divisions higher up, these players are from clubs either at the same level or below. The idea is that, we develop these and then move them on if it comes to that. Alex Bradley was signed in December due to our CDM Ross falling out of favour and requesting a move away, where he will be playing his football in the US and was sold for 11k. The transfer will go through in January however, Ross was moved to the reserves due to his attitude and missing training. Therefore, it was important that we brought in cover and we had tabs on Bradley for some time & a huge asset who can play right back as well as CDM, which is ideal.

In terms of outgoings, all of these are players who were loaned out to gain experience. Ross will not appear on the out list until January, hence me mentioning him above.

A few of the players below, may be names you are not familiar with. So, let me break down where some of these guys came from, as these faces were not mentioned in the incoming transfers section or for the youth intake last year.

So, with the promotion in place and the club developing well, it was decided with the board that we start to develop players here and make a pathway for them to the first team. We had a good youth intake last season however, we wanted to take it to the next level.

We shortlisted youth players who were due to have their contracts up for expiration at the end of June from Premier League or EFL top clubs. The idea was that, once they were released that we sign up these players under a youth contract, which would only cost the club approx £150 per player with no upfront fee. From here, we would look to get these players out on loan and develop them, so in the future we can either sell them for a profit or introduce them into the first team. Here are the players who we signed up on a youth deal:

  • Banda – Newcastle
  • Cadogan – Crystal Palace
  • Howe – Middlesbrough
  • Tshaka – Southampton
  • Wildbore – Fulham

Pre Season:

Overall, we had a good pre-season and plenty of positives to take from it. We have kept to the same style of play but just improving on it as he jumps up the levels & doing some solid work on the training field to develop the players. From the above games, I was confident to go into the league season knowing we would be competitive.

Season Results – Thus Far:

UNDEFEATED in the league! The best possible start to the season especially with being newly prompted. We’ve shown that the step up to the league is no issue to us at all as we continue to play in the same confident way as we did last season.

We also had a decent run in the FA Cup and forced League 1 Derby into a replay and narrowly missed out, just goes to show how much the team have turned up again this season.

League Table – Thus Far:

Gateshead are really giving us a challenge at the top, as they are clear favourites to go up this season. We have 1 game in hand and can potentially re-claim top spot from them, which is very impressive for us. Again, it will be top place that goes up automatically but already in the season, there seems to be a gap building up between the top 2 and the rest, so it will be interesting how things play out in the second half of the season.

Data Hub:

I won’t go into great detail on this section but just wanted to show the data hub reports and why they are so crucial for the way we progress the save.

Firstly, when recruiting new players this area plus extracting our team reports is very important so we can measure the metrics and see in which positions we need improvement or what level the new player will have to be at depending on their position. For example, we complete a high number of crosses and these mainly come from our full backs. So, when looking for a new full back, I will need to review their crossing output first of all then look at other metrics such as tackles per game etc.

Another key reason for this view is so i can keep close tabs on how the team are progressing and which areas we need to improve in. Last season, our heading wasn’t exactly a stand out performer for our centre backs but this season I recruited a defender who was dominant in the air as well as someone who was fairly confident passing the ball. Also, if we look outside of transfers then we can look at the data to see which of our players are not quite matching up compared to the rest of the league and then review their induvial stats to see if we can identify any patterns.

Performance Analysis:

In this section, i wanted to highlight how the team are performing so far, not just as a team but individually per position too.

As we can see above, so far this season we are coming out on top in most metrics compared to the other teams in the league. Gateshead like to keep the ball slightly more than us but even with our fluid football, we are still able to control most games possession wise too which is great to see.

Before we look into the player performance stats, I wanted to highlight that this data is used as part of the recruitment process such as when we bring in new players or when we know to let one go. This gives us good insights on how a player is performing, especially the new singings as we will see in a moment.

CB:

  • Sikora looks like he has settled in well and looks to have solved our issue in terms of winning more headers which we lacked last season
  • Note that Agnew has played far less games than the rest of the group
  • Sikora is putting in more key tackles than the rest of the group per game, however the the other guys make up for it in the interceptions metrics.

FB:

  • Malton has done fairly well however, it seems he needs to improve on his tackling and has only contributed to 1 assist compared to Hunter with 4
  • Wade was introduced into the first team and has settled in well, another homegrown player we are looking to develop
  • Hunter is being linked with EFL clubs, which is no surprise with his output

MID:

  • Rowe our new CDM has also started off well and is protecting our backline well. As we can see, he is also winning headers which is something that our previous CDM was unable to do, so another great recruit
  • Briggs again is the standout player for us in the middle, with not just his goals but also his key passes
  • Lowe & Tee have shared out their games but also performing well at this higher level, as they are also contributing to goals as well as assists

FWD:

  • This graphic also includes our wide attacking players, which are Kempster, Clark, Sinclair and at times Brown
  • As we can see, our front line is doing well and sharing out the goals well. Clark has contributed to 6 goals along with Kempster from out wide
  • Heath has taken over the number 9 role and is performing well, as he is also winning headers which is an asset for us, as Brown moves out to the wide and still managing to score

Overall, I am happy with the group and it looks like the new signings have started of well. There isn’t an issue with scoring goals or relying on 1 position like last year, we have recruited so that we can get goals from all types of positions which is made us even stronger.

How the loan players are performing:

As we can see, most of the group are doing really well on their loan spells. Just to highlight our young striker that we signed “Wildbore” who is scoring for fun in the league just below us, no doubt he will be catching the eye of other teams. Again, pleased with how these players are performing and will surely develop overtime.

Board Meeting:

The board are currently very happy with how the club is being managed and particularly how we are playing entertaining football, which is filling up the ground. The chairman offered an extension on my contract, which i happily accepted as we look to take the Shields up the football pyramid with the moneyball theory.

This for me has to be the most exciting save i have ever done, it feels way more realistic and looking into all the data fascinates me the most. On the next update, we will look at if we managed to get a double promotion or will the Shields have to battle it out in the Vanarama North for another year!

That wraps up this write up today, I hope you enjoyed it!

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