This is part two of my data analysis with the assistance of tactical analysis to see the best-suited signings for Nottingham Forest, check out part one which covered possible left-backs for Forest if you haven’t already. In this recruitment analysis, we are looking into replacing Matthew Cash as there is high speculation of him leaving in the summer transfer window. Before we get into the players we need to delve into Cash’s play-style and see what attributes have helped him be one of the standout players this season.
When we put all of Cash’s qualities into the graph it highlighted five key areas which stood out to his game. The three key ones which stood out the most were his; interceptions, defensive duels won and his progressive runs. However, we also added his successful dribbles and successful crosses as this is something which fits Forest’s play-style as well as own. This season Forest have ranked sixth highest in the Championship for crosses with 16.04 per 90 and they have predominately focused on counter-attacking under Sabri Lamouchi as they have scored the third-highest from this category (five). Below we can see his player radar and how it pans across his strongest attributes.
Initial data check
For my data, I will be keeping the theme on trying to find a player between the bracket of the age of 17-26 to find an up and upcoming player who is going to peak in their career whilst at Forest. We will also only be scouting the Championship as this keeps the data variables fair between the players so they are all equally compared and the data will also look at Cash’s attributes to find a like for like player.
I started the data analysis by first finding players who match Forest’s playstyle to help narrow down who matches Cash. The first part looked into progressive runs and dribbling success rate statistics as their full-backs are required to carry the ball and exploit teams on the flanks. In the data, Cash was situated amongst five other players as the top performers for these categories. Progressive runs are key to Forest as players are carrying the ball over ten yards on counter-attacks and looking into dribble success is important to take on their opponents successfully as they don’t play progressive passes they opt for ball carriers in their team. This season they rank 17th with only 64.15 attempted progressive passes per 90 minutes.
In the image above, we can see five clear options that are surrounding Cash with all bar one (Max Lowe) producing higher progressive runs than him, however, none of the players close to Cash tallied a higher dribble success ratio than him.
The next part to solidify the options I looked into dribbling alone as this is one of Cash’s biggest strengths. As he is a converted winger to full-back he possesses the ability to explode past opponents and this is something that the replacement needs to also have. In the image below, the results show us Jayden Bogle showing up again along with a few players who were in the second cluster of players such as; Anfernee Dijksteel.
Cash’s transition from a winger to full-back has been key under Lamouchi. He has developed his defensive game immensely. On his player radar, this has become a big part of his game and his interceptions and defensive duels won percentage stood out. When comparing this to other players in the league in the image below, we can see Bogle and Dijksteel appearing once again.
Now we have narrowed down the players we can compare them to see who matches Cash’s player radar. In the image below, these were the players who came up in the data sources, however, their other attributes fell short in areas which Cash excels in.
In the image below, we found three options who come closest to Cash’s player radar. They were; Dijksteel, Bogle and Djed Spence. From the results we can see the only struggle is players lacking in their interceptions compared to Cash but they keep relatively close in the other aspects and even outperform in some areas as Bogle outperforms Cash in successful dribbles, Spence tallies higher progressive runs and Dijksteel has a greater amount of defensive duels won than Cash.
I will now use footage to tactically analyse the players selected above so we can gain context on their play-style as data can only tell us so much information.
The first option is Dijksteel. The 23-year-old is recovering from a three-month injury, however, before his injury, he has been a consistent performer for Middlesbrough. As shown in the data Dijksteel’s strength is his defending but his attacking stats is an area of weakness as I will go onto analyse.
Best defensive option
Dijksteel is the best defensive option out of the three options. His defensive cover and style suits Forest’s deep defensive shape when they are out of possession. He likes to maintain his defensive line and recover the ball then offload the ball to his teammates. Dijksteel does this by standing up his opponent and controlling the situation when going one versus one scenario. In the image below, Dijksteel shows the defender down the line and he can keep up with their pace if they knock it into space with his quick acceleration, plus, he covers the players’ options to play it inside into a teammate or allow them to cut inside themselves.
Again in the image below, Dijksteel shows his opponent down the line and this allows him to know where he is going and then he can utilise his strength and speed to win his duels which he has done 5.79 times per 90 this season.
Another key attribute to Dijksteel’s game which Forest would benefit from is his positioning as he stays compact to his centre-back when defending. This is something Forest have embedded this season as they will allow high possession to the other team by sitting back and staying compact. Statically speaking they ranked 15th in the league for ball possession with 47.5%. This means Dijksteel already has the defensive tactics to fit straight in for Forest and defensively he is the best option out of the selected candidates.
In the image above, Dijksteel is tucked tight into his centre-back and has maintained his positioning. More so, he is ready to pounce if the ball is switched across and try to intervene the pass. This is something Cash looks to do as Forest look to sit deep then jump at the chance to counter-attack the opponents.
Weak in attack
In attack Dijksteel is statically the worst in all three attacking categories we looked into. This is partially down to his low input in attack as he is often preparing to cover for his teammates and rarely venture too far forward. Ultimately, Forest need a defensive player to fill in, however, to get a similar player to Cash they also need to have attacking flair and this is what Dijksteel lacks. In the image below, Dijksteel keeps his positioning wide but he is ready to track back; Middlesbrough frequently avoid playing through him in the attacking phase as they know he is ready to get back for his team.
Even though Dijksteel doesn’t offer much on the ball for Middlesbrough, he does have great positional awareness with his winger. In the image below, Dijksteel notices he is taking up the space inside where his winger can drive into, he makes a move towards the touchline to create a hole and his teammate dribbles into the vacated space and wins a penalty after a late challenge. He may not offer a high amount in attack on the ball but his off the ball movement can poise useful space for his teammates to exploit.
Overall, this would be a good option for Forest but Dijksteel doesn’t meet all the requirements which Cash has and it won’t be the best possible option if they want a like for like player, instead of someone who fits their needs.
Yes, this is a Derby player and we are looking at players for Forest. However, we are looking for a like for like replacement for Cash and Bogle has come up in the data as a similar player so it is worth looking at a young talent (19) into closer detail. From the data, we can see Bogle’s clear strength in his ball-carrying ability with a massive 3.09 successful dribbles per 90.
Bogle is employed high and wide in the attacking phase of play. This benefits Bogle as he can freely move up and down the wing. For Derby Martyn Waghorn will drift inside into a central role and allow Bogle have the space on the wing, likewise, Forest do this with Cash and Joe Lolley playing as an inside forward. In the image below, Waghorn moves inside to receive the ball centrally which attracts the oppositions left-back, Bogle smartly runs on the blind side of the Stoke winger and he doesn’t see his run and this allows him to use the space created by Waghorn on the flank.
As we can see Bogle gets into advanced areas of the pitch, this allows him to cross the ball. One area that is a weakness for Bogle is his low crosses. Across the 2019/20 season he has totalled 237 crosses so far, 97 of these were low crosses and a massive 84.5% were inaccurate. His decision making in the final third situations ultimately costs him. For Forest, they average 16.04 crosses per game, so this would need improving to fit into the team.
In the image above, Bogle had the option to drive at his opponents and as we analysed he is great at dribbling and in this scenario he had the opportunity to drive inside, instead, he opted for a cross and it resulted in him losing possession as it was unsuccessful.
In the defensive phase Bogle naturally keeps his high positioning, this allows him to press the opponents high up the pitch and attempt to regain possession as quickly as possible. It helps suffocate the opposition inside their own half and forces the long ball as his quick pace and stocky build makes it hard to get past him in 1v1 situations. Although, this can cause him to be out of position due to him attempting to recover possession high up the pitch. In the image below, Bogle is caught out of position and leaves his defence exposed. This occurs frequently and it would be a weakness as it doesn’t match Forest play-style.
Comparing this to Forest they like to sit back, this season they rank 24th in the Championship for pressing intensity (PPDA) with 453.42. This shows Forest like to reserve themselves from pressing, however, Bogle is someone who likes to stay high and try to regain the ball as quick as possible. This does have pros and cons as he can win back the ball early and set Derby off on an attack straight away but he can get caught out as well.
It isn’t unheard of players moving from one rival club to another but it is rare. Bogle has the capabilities of Cash, however, realistically this deal may not be feasible.
At 19-years-old Spence is certainly on the come up and he could be a great addition for Forest and someone who could replicate Cash if he departs. In the player radar’s he had the most similar graph to Cash across the five categories; it was slightly small in his amounts, yet, it still followed the same structure of Cash.
A massive aspect of Spence’s game is his pace. This helps in both phases of possession as he can press his opponents and then turn a defensive phase transition into an attacking phase in a matter of seconds. In the image below, Spence has taken up his position in a low defensive line but he notices a chance to join his teammates and step out and press the opponent. This creates an overload and allows Middlesbrough to recover possession via a misplaced pass from their overload.
This is a perfect play-style for Forest as Spence stays compact in his defensive shape but he is ready to break and counter-attack with his electric pace. Comparing this to Dijksteel who possessed the same quality of keeping his defensive shape but Dijksteel lacked in his transitional phase, however, Spence excels in this department and he is able to support his attackers; just like Cash does for Forest.
In the image above, Spence demonstrates his pace as he makes a long run from deep into the space in front of him. Middlesbrough play a similar game plan to Forest as they rank 10th for dribbles per 90 with 27.17 which is similar to Forest who rank 6th with 28.35 per 90. In this passage of play, Middlesbrough have recovered the ball and quickly broke with ball carries and fast-paced movements, Spence breaks down the line and he receives the ball to the back post where he taps it in.
Spence stays wide to allow Middlesbrough to let their wingers play inverted by taking up the half-spaces. He will keep in uncongested centrally and stretch the opponents’ defence which helps his teammates exploit spaces. In the image below, Spence is found high and wide in the attacking third and this allows his winger to cut inside and be more of a threat towards goal instead of the winger being less effective in the corner as he has more options centrally.
However, he has the ability to come inside and get on the ball in dangerous situations and link up with his winger if the opportunity arises. In the image below, his teammate is holding up the ball and he notices the space to pick up the ball and get into a better position to cross. His teammate lays off the ball and Spence drives into the space and sets up a big chance at the back post from the onrushing Hayden Coulson.
Nevertheless, Spence can be caught out in the transitional phase from attack to defence due to his support in attack. In the image below, Spence is recovering from an attacking phase but he is situated high and he has left his teammate in a 2v1 scenario. However, as we highlighted earlier with his immense pace in this play he makes up the lost ground and gets back to make a vital challenge.
His defensive stats lack but under Lamouchi Cash’s defensive has rose to the next level and he could do this with Spence if they push to get him. He has all the characteristics to be a like for like replacement for Cash and it is someone who is under the radar so it could be a relatively cheap option to bring in, plus, at the tender age of 19, he has the potential to follow in Cash’s footsteps and become one of the best right-backs in the league.
If Forest lose Cash it will be a big blow and they need to replace him but the signing needs to be a to buy a readymade player who can fit straight into their system as they are in a play-off spot and the Premier League is around the corner with Liverpool and co.
From the data, Bogle is the most suitable option as he is the only player to occur in every data search I did. However, this is an unrealistic option due to him being an academy player at Derby and now their first-team starting right-back. If they could somehow squeeze a good enough deal it is definitely the closest option in the Championship to Cash but it will be near enough impossible to sign him from their rivals. This is where Spence appeared in the player comparisons and as he showed a similar player radar to Cash. Then in the footage he also showed key characteristics which are alike to Cash, plus, the game style at Middlesbrough matches to Forest so it would make it an easy transition from one club to another.