Possession: Making It Count

I was interested to read Peter Shirtliff’s comments to the Adver today in which he was confident that possession of the ball is key. Peter said to the Adver:

“I think there’s a lot of rubbish talked, to be honest with you. Alright, you don’t want to get out-numbered in midfield, which is basically what people are always talking about. But I wish somebody would just come out and say that instead of saying teams should be playing 4-3-3 or 4-5-1. It’s all because of the World Cup trends and everybody jumps on the bandwagon a little bit. Ultimately, if you’ve got possession of the ball it doesn’t matter what shape you play.

That’s what the game’s about. If you’re playing 4-4-2, have possession and are getting round the back of teams and creating chances then it’s not a problem is it? We’ve played 4-4-2, we’ve tried 4-3-3 and we would like to think that the players are flexible enough to do both. It’s flexibility of players, but at the end of the day all the tactics in the world cannot beat somebody who can get past a man and have a shot at goal. However you do it, you’ve got to produce goals at the end of it.”

So how have Town controlled possession in the 3 league games and what has been its affect on the results?

Opposition Res STFC Poss OPP Poss STFC Shots On STFC Shots Off % Poss per chance OPP Shots On OPP Shots Off % Poss per chance
Brighton 1-2 54% 46% 6 4 5.40% 4 4 5.75%
Hartlepool 2-2 58% 42% 3 3 9.67% 7 2 4.67%
Brentford 1-1 55% 45% 1 6 7.86% 2 6 5.63%

In all 3 games Town have had the better of the possession, although never dominating the game with a more than 60% amount. This fits with Peter’s expectation of our game where possession is the key, however with all this possession have Town produced the goods?

Well…evidently not as we haven’t secured a victory in our opening 3 games.

Only against Brighton, a game that we lost, did Town better their opponents in terms of the percentage of possession needed to create a chance, i.e. resulting in a shot at goal, with an opportunity for every 5.4% of possession compared to Brighton’s 5.75%.

It is clear that possession alone isn’t all as both the Hartlepool and Brentford games saw the opposition playing a significantly more efficient game. Town therefore really need to turn the possession into chances.

So far the midfield have failed to deliver a sufficient number of good quality chances to the forwards. Our midfield has been such a contrast to last season. Evidently we are missing Ward on the left, but the lack of form of Douglas, Prutton’s unfamiliarity with our approach, JP McGovern drifting inside or O’Brien being short of tricks to get down the left and get the ball into the box are all exposed by these figures.

Of course, conversely, I could point the finger at Austin, Pericard and Dossevi for not being clinical enough from the chances they were given. However these figures reaffirm what I’ve seen with my own eyes, our inefficient midfield, so I can’t hold them responsible.

Regardless of possession, clearly the more opportunities created for the strikers, the more chance of success.

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