Taking over a club half way through a season on Football Manager can be tricky. You’re usually there to stop the immediate tumble down the table and barely have a chance to catch your breath let alone analyse your whole squad. Tony’s (the hero of this tale…I think) dramatic final day victory meant survival for The Posh. It also gives him a chance to improve the club in the 21/22 season.
While discussing the save, Tony mentioned he needed to strengthen when it came to left sided full backs. Knowing his funds were limited I wanted to highlight that there was more than adequate talent already in the squad, encouraging him to spend his sparse finances elsewhere. So, what did I see in his current left backs, Dan Butler and Frazer Blake-Tracy?
I’ll mainly be focusing on the numbers rather than the on-field performances with interceptions, tackles, assists, chances created & clear cut chances taking centre stage. I’ve highlighted the attributes for both players I (and the game) think are important for full backs. 11 to 13 is considered good/great for the league.
As we can see, both are incredibly similar in age and attributes. The game highlights Blake-Tracy as having the potential to improve, suggesting he could be a good Championship player in the future (Peterborough are currently in League One). There is one difference that immediately makes me favour Blake-Tracy over Butler, his anticipation.
With this in mind, I decided to compare interceptions per 90 and tackles per 90 to see how active (and successful) both players (and the whole squad) had been when snuffing out attacks.
Butler shines here for interceptions per 90 coming out as the best player in the whole squad for players that made 15 or more appearances in the 20/21 season. Blake-Tracy isn’t far behind logging good numbers in tackles per 90 as well. It’s worth mentioning Blake-Tracy started in all of the 12 games Tony was in charge for. Using a 4–4–2, he certainly got the best out of the 25 year old.
Butler and Blake-Tracy performed their defensive duties well but let’s shift the focus further up the pitch with assists per 90 and chances created per 90.
Here, for the first time, we have a clear difference between the two. Although Blake-Tracy edged the amount of chances created, Butler turned those chances into assists more often. Looking purely at the numbers that could be down to two things. His good corner and freekick ability and his slightly better crossing ability. These numbers are pretty poor for both player with Blake-Tracy registering just 1 assist all season while Butler chalked up 3. There’s a lot of room for improvement for both especially when it comes to crossing.
It takes two to affect an assist and in a struggling team goals can be hard to come by. I decided to look a little further into the quality of the chances they were creating with clear cut chances created.
I included the leagues overall ratings once again for comparison. In terms of full backs on that list, Matthew Sorinola (MK Dons) and George Cooper (Plymouth Argyle) are capable of playing at full back but spent the season playing as wing backs in a 5–3–2. Thomas O’Connor (Gillingham) is also another potential full back although I suspect he played significantly more in midfield. The nearest comparison then would be Lewis Coyle (Hull), a right sided full/wing back playing in a 4–2–3–1 as the East Yorkshire side won the league. Blake-Tracy’s 10 clear cut chances is certainly respectable for a side that finished 20th.
There is no doubt that Peterborough massively underperformed throughout the campaign finishing just outside the relegation zone when the media predicted a 6th place finish at the beginning of the season. It would be easy to justify overhauling the whole side but sometimes there’s a glimmer of hope even in the darkest of times. Dan Butler and Frazer Blake-Tracy are certainly that and have the potential to shine even brighter next season. Both defended well while Butler’s set piece and crossing ability could become even more effective with the right players getting on the end of them. Blake-Tracy’s form and good clear cut chance creation are also extremely encouraging.
Sometimes it’s better to take stock before dipping into the market. Finding better options with just £868k in the bank would have been extremely difficult. Pinch the pennies, improve the profit, push on.
Up The Posh