This post is partly going to be a selfish exercise on my part as I look to lay out a logical way of sourcing my next striker. My troubles with Stracqualursi are well known and although he may return after his loan spell a more settled player I’m still not convinced that he is the right sort of player to maximise the role that I wish to use up front.
Umut Bulut, in the Toulouse squad at the start of the game, has been something of a success with 17 goals in our first season and 14 so far this season but not only is he 29 and in need of replacing soon, I also get the feeling that an improved player here would really kick us on in terms of goal-scoring and attacking prowess. By trying to lay out what has made Bulut a success, not just in terms of the goals he’s scored but also overall team play, then I want to identify the attributes that I should be looking for in my new signing but also preferential PPM’s and things to avoid.
I hope that it will prove an interesting read as well as a means of ensuring that I don’t make the same mistake twice. Worst case scenario – you’re all bored to death and I waste another £5m… bugger.
The first thing I did was to look at the goals that Bulut has scored so far this season. He’s got himself three penalties and a couple of real poacher efforts where he’s pounced on a loose ball in the area or tackled a dithering defender to finish early but the other goals are all more or less variants of this:
He’s got quite a few goals by showing some pace down the channel between centre half and fullback to run onto a pass from midfield and slot home. This is definitely where Stracq was lacking. The Argentine’s inferior attributes for acceleration, pace, dribbling, agility and flair were preventing him from getting into position to utilise his superior finishing and composure. This is where I made my mistake. I was looking for a better finisher but underestimated the impact of the attributes which govern how he gets into those positions. This is why Stracq only manages half the number of shots per game as Bulut. As Vito quite rightly pointed out in the comments section of the Stracq v Bulut article it would therefore make sense to ensure that there are other players making those forward runs should I continue to use the former Everton striker.
However, as I am looking to sign another new striker then I have free reign over the attributes which I will be targetting and I’ll certainly be paying attention to the following, with Bulut’s corresponding value in brackets and in order of priority:
- acceleration (16)
- pace (15)
- dribbling (11)
- agility (15)
- anticipation (13)
- flair (10)
The next thing I looked at was Bulut’s stats using the customisable views on the squad screen. Here are the key ones that I’ve picked out.
So these are typically defensive stats but I thought it was worth including to point out a couple of items – Bulut “only” averages 4.3 headers per game. This makes sense as we tend to keep the ball on the deck, including goalkeeper distribution. With his average jumping and heading attributes (13 and 12) he’s only won 50% of them but Stracq only won 56% of his with 16 for both attributes. Looking at the heading maps for two fairly high profile games in the match comparison tool, I wanted to find out where these headers tended to take place:
Of the 8 headers, only 3 were within the box and legitimate scoring opportunities. Looking through the other games, though, that Lyon game is very much the exception and the heading maps are a lot more like the Twente game with the majority of contested headers taking place around the halfway line. I’m not so concerned about headers here as we have numbers in midfield to work for the second ball; so whilst aerial presence would be a nice bonus it isn’t as critical as I thought it was when I was originally searching for my new striker.
Therefore, heading and jumping aren’t critical but I would still be very keen on ensuring a relatively high strength attribute. Bulut has 14 here and I think this is the minimum I would accept. The lone striker often takes the ball with his back to goal and has to hold off a challenge of two before bringing others into the game. Which brings me on to the next part of the striker’s game…
Just under 30 passes per game and a pleasingly high 85% completion rate. Only 15 “key”, defence splitting passes though which is lower than I would like and is, in fact, the one area where Stracq performed well. Again, I looked to the match comparison tool for more detail.
The first thing to notice is that the majority of the passes are central and fairly deep for a striker. This is to be expected as it’s exactly the role I want the striker to play, dropping back to link with the midfield. What is also worth noting is that the majority of the passes are simple short balls back into a midfielder’s feet, accounting for the high pass completion rate. Again, I am quite happy with this as I don’t always want the striker to be playing high risk passes. There is, however, evidence there that suggests a certain level of creativity would be beneficial.
There are several forward passes, more than likely key passes given the striker’s positioning and these are high reward plays given their positioning on the park. Picking one forward pass at random, you can see this in effect:
Although Riviere was offside, you can clearly see the potential for the striker to be a key creative entity for the team and provide scoring opportunities for players around him. Therefore, I’m also going to be looking for the following attributes, again Bulut’s corresponding values in brackets:
- passing (9)
- creativity (10)
- anticipation (13)
- decisions (11)
This is something that I hoped to have cracked with Stracq given his superior attributes in this area but only providing one side of the role I wish him to play wasn’t good enough to nail down a long term place.
Moving on to the final set of statistics…
These are your orthodox striker’s stats. In support of the above section, 0.12 assists per 90 minutes really isn’t in line with what I was hoping for from this striker. Even Stracq has managed 0.38 and 2 in his 6 starts (2 subs) at Marseille. Essentially, I’m starting to look at a morph of the two as the perfect player.
Second thing I notice from that is the 31 dribbles “past opponent”. This stat doesn’t count any dribbles which are made through open territory and so I take it with a pinch of salt but, for a lone striker, being able to beat your marker with a bit of skill and turn of pace is likely to leave you in a very advantageous position, particularly a striker who stays as centrally as we saw in the passing maps above. This supports my desire for the first set of attributes listed above.
The last thing to notice there are the absolutely critical statistics – shots. 3.26 shots per game isn’t a bad ratio. As a team we average 14.5 shots per game so the striker is ably supported from midfield and out wide. I’d obviously like to see an increase but it’s certainly better than the paltry 1.55 Stracq managed. However, it is worth noting that Bulut has taken 79 shots so far this season and scored 14 of them, a success rate of 17%. He has managed this with a finishing attribute of 12 and a composure attribute of just 9. Were I able to source an alternative striker with better attributes then I could reasonably expect this success ratio to go up so long as the replacement was as mobile as Bulut and getting into the same sort of positions.
Stracq, with his 15 finishing and 14 composure, had a success ratio of around 9%. Clearly impeded by the lack of settling in but also, in my belief, being forced into low percentage shots from poor areas due to his lack of mobility.
So, in other words, I’m definitely looking for an improvement on Bulut’s finisher attributes:
- finishing (12)
- composure (9)
- off the ball (13)
A couple of attributes which I haven’t touched on are aggression and influence. Crassus suggested in the comments section of the Bulut v Stracq article that the latter’s low influence attribute could be a limiting factor because other players wouldn’t give him the ball because he is not asserting enough authority over the play. This isn’t something I’ve come across before but something which I will be keeping an eye on for new signings.
Similarly, aggression has been mooted as dictating how “hungry” a player is to get on the ball. Again, Stracq’s is lower than Bulut’s (11 v 18) and this will also be something which I’ll pay attention to without specifically searching for it.
Lastly, there are two attributes which I think are key to the targetman role – teamwork and work rate. Both Stracq and Bulut have similarly high values here so I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two but I will definitely be considering these for the new signing.
And what about PPM’s? Well, given the deeper role that I want him to typically perform, I wouldn’t be looking for someone who has the “tries to beat offside trap” PPM. “Comes deep to get the ball” might be preferential, along with “plays with back to goal”. Bulut has the “moves into channels” PPM but I can simply impose this using tactical instructions, which I have done, so I can ignore this. One that I hadn’t previously considered but, looking at the passing map might be beneficial, is “plays one twos”. If I can find a suitably pacy striker then a quick one-two with one of the inside forwards could put the striker clear despite his initial starting point from deep.
In conclusion, then, what have I learned from the above?
The first thing is to agree with Vito. Should Stracq come back from his loan and remain at the club then I will continue to try and get the inside forwards to provide the forward runs he isn’t capable of. I will also consider playing one of them as an out and out winger in an effort to increase the number of headers he can contest in the box to utilise his clear strengths in this area.
Secondly, when looking for a new striker, the attributes I’m looking for are:
- acceleration – 15
- pace – 14
- dribbling – 12
- agility – 15
- anticipation -14
- flair – 11
- passing – 14
- creativity -12
- decisions – 12
- finishing – 14
- composure – 12
- off the ball – 14
- strength – 14
- teamwork – 15
- work rate – 15
Obviously, with my relatively low reputation at the moment it’s obviously going to be mission impossible finding someone who ticks all those boxes and is willing to join Toulouse. Indeed, the only striker in the game who meets those requirements is Wayne Rooney. However, by using the “match x of 15” option at the top of the player search window, I can start to find those who tick a majority. Once I get to 12 of 15, then I find 5 options willing to move but rule out Streller, Kléber and Barda by virtue of age. The two remaining players are:
Not a player I know but an interesting option.
He has two PPM’s – move into channels and runs with ball through centre. The second worries me a little as I don’t want him to dribble with the ball too often when he’s isolated up front but his dribbling attribute is excellent.
He fails the criteria above on strength (-5), teamwork and workrate (both -2).
Again, a player I don’t know and someone the Saints signed from Japanese football.
He also has two PPM’s – moves into channels and plays one-twos… very interesting.
He fails the criteria above on passing (-1), strength (-2) and teamwork (-4).
Here’s the comparison between the two:
I’m not even close to making a decision yet but this exercise has already proved fruitful as I’ve found two strikers I hadn’t considered before. I may even wait until the end of the season when I hope to have a higher reputation for both the club and myself and should be able to attract a higher standard of player.
What do you make of the two above? Which would you go for between the two? Do you disagree with my questionable logic? Would you sign a different type of striker and amend the tactic or stick with Bulut? Plenty to consider there so please feel free to give me your thoughts in the comments box below. Any and all suggestions are welcomed.
End of Season Update
Now we’ve got to the end of the season, I’ve started looking in earnest and have identified the following:
Roman Bezus – Vorskla
£3.6m up front, £400k after 50 league goals
PPM’s – None
Fails filter on:
- acceleration (-2)
- agility (-2)
- anticipation (-2)
- work rate (-1)
Still got a little room to improve and is something of an all-rounder.
Doesn’t speak French and doesn’t appear to be particularly ambitious.
My over-riding concern here is that he’s a little “second tier”. Now that we’re a regular top 3 team and into our second season in the Champions League then perhaps we should be looking at a more top-class alternative.
Mounir El Hamdaoui – Ajax
£2m up front, £275k after 30 league goals
- Places shots
Likes to lob ‘keeper
- Tries first time shots
I’ve got a good past experience with Hamdaoui from a brief spell at Ajax. I know that he’s absolutely clinical in one-on-ones and this could be key as Bulut was particularly wasteful in this area.
Doesn’t speak French and isn’t ambitious. Poor influence is a slight worry too.
But for me, he’d be worth it. His only PPM is “avoids using weaker foot” although I’m not convinced that’s going to be a major issue. For me, he’s really the prime target but I’m unsure that he’s going to be worth the money and may have settling in issues too.
This post is partly so I can check their profiles while I’m at work tomorrow and partly to get your opinions… so feel free. What do you reckon?