Boring, boring City?

City’s win over Doncaster on Saturday certainly wasn’t one that supporters will recall as a classic in a few year’s time and it enabled what I would guess is a minority of supporters to continue with their theme that we are a boring team who are over reliant on work rate and the long ball forward. While I’d agree that, compared to last season, we are shorter on the “X factor” that Malky Mackay said players like Craig Bellamy provide at this level, I have little sympathy with the long ball argument – I can only think of Nat Jarvis’ goal at Oxford as an example of one we have scored from that method this season and that’s not bad when you consider that we have scored seventeen times in eight matches. Eight of our goals have come from crosses (which some critics say we don’t provide because we don’t have any quick wingers) and I’d say that six have come from passing movements that could in no way be described as long ball.

Therefore, if we are a long ball team, we aren’t much good at it because only less than 10% of our goals are as a result of that approach. I’d say the long ball tag can be easily rebuffed then, but the boring accusation is much harder to confirm or deny because it’s very much in the eye of the beholder and it’s the sort of thing that needs pretty convincing proof to make someone on either side of the argument change their mind. Last night on one of the messageboards, there was an attempt to prove that we weren’t boring by comparing our goal attempts figure for the season with three teams (Brighton, Southampton and Leeds) that one of the critics argued played more “attractive” football than us. The figures showed that Brighton and Leeds were a long way behind our total of goal attempts while Southampton had matched our figure – the Saints and Leeds had more efforts on target than us though.

The critics came back by saying that efforts on goal doesn’t equal entertaining football, fair enough I suppose, but I would argue that it is a signal of intent – I’m sure those being critical of City would have used the figures to back up their point of view if they had shown us to be behind those other three clubs. Anyway, I decided to extent things beyond just four clubs to include all of those in the Championship and, to try and get some sort of equilibrium to things, I also compared the number of goal attempts sides have had against them so far. I’ll say now that I don’t think my findings can conclusively prove or disprove that we are “boring”. On top of that, I think some of the figures are very surprising indeed and so I’m sure there will be those who feel they are of no use whatsoever, but I would argue that they do offer a clue as to the footballing philosophy of teams at this level and that City’s figures show that they are a side who tries to go out and win every game.

Nat Jarvis, the scorer of our one goal this season from a result of long ball football.

Anyway, starting off with goal attempts by clubs in descending order (all teams have played six games except those marked with a * who have played five);-

Peterborough  67 efforts on target, 35 off target, total 102

Millwall 52, 40, 92

Southampton 50, 31, 81

Cardiff 41, 40, 81

Burnley* 36, 44, 80

Watford 50, 28, 78

Middlesbrough 52, 25, 77

Hull 42, 33, 75

Portsmouth 36, 39, 75

Blackpool 37, 37, 74

West Ham 38, 32 70

Leeds 43, 25, 68

Birmingham* 28, 38, 66

Palace 33, 31 64

Derby 35, 28, 63

Leicester 29, 34, 63

Bristol C 30, 32, 62

Ipswich 30,30 60

Brighton 31, 27, 58

Doncaster 27, 31, 58

Reading 26, 31, 57

Coventry 32, 24, 56

Forest 27, 23, 50

Barnsley 20, 22, 42

Liam Trotter scores for Millwall in the 2-2 draw with Peterborough at the New Den - a match which included an amazing 45 attempts on goal!

In ascending order, here’s the number of attempts on each team’s goal so far;-

Birmingham* 28, 23, 51

Doncaster 26, 30, 56

Middlesbrough 26, 30, 56

Southampton 32, 26, 58

Forest 32, 27, 59

Burnley* 34, 26, 60

Watford 27, 36, 62

Millwall 29, 34, 63

Portsmouth 33, 30, 63

Hull 32, 32, 64

Brighton 36, 28, 64

Leicester 40, 25, 65

Blackpool 32, 38, 70

Palace 44, 29, 73

Cardiff 36, 38, 74

West Ham 42, 33, 75

Coventry 43, 32, 75

Barnsley 44, 31, 75

Peterborough 47, 30, 77

Ipswich 47, 33, 80

Reading 41, 44, 85

Bristol C 39, 49, 88

Leeds 51, 39, 90

Derby 49, 50, 99

Kevin Kilbane scores for Derby against Doncaster in a game between a team with the second best shots against record and the one with the worst - you might be surprised which one is which!

Finally a comparison between attempts on opponents goal against attempts on their goal;

Millwall 92, 63, +29

Peterborough 102, 77, +25

Southampton 81, 58, +23

Middlesbrough 77, 56, +21

Burnley* 80, 60, +20

Watford 78, 62, +16

Birmingham* 66, 51, +15

Portsmouth 75, 63, +12

Hull 75, 64, +11

Cardiff 81, 74, +7

Blackpool 74, 70, +4

Doncaster 58, 56, +2

Leicester 63, 65, -2

West Ham 70, 75, -5

Brighton 58, 64, -6

Palace 64, 73,  -9

Forest 50, 59, -9

Coventry 56, 75, -19

Ipswich 60, 80, – 20

Leeds 68, 90, -22

Bristol C 62, 88, -26

Reading 57, 85, -28

Barnsley 42, 75, -33

Derby 63, 99, -36

Before anyone else says it, the most important table is the one that measures how many points each side has and having had a little experience in working with them myself, I’d agree that statistics can be made to “prove” anything. However, my interpretations of some of the figures in that final section are;-

1. Brighton are a counter attacking side who are maybe not really as good as they looked in winning at our place.

2. Doncaster are a team that could start climbing the table with the confidence injection of a win or two.

3. I’d be confident if I was a West Ham fan because, surely, there seems to be a lot more to come from them yet.

4. Millwall and Peterborough might regret not picking up that many points when they are playing so well.

5. Leicester are still flattering to deceive.

6. Southampton and Middlesbrough are there for the long haul.

7. Reading and Forest fans should not take it for granted that they will be able to recapture last season’s form.

8. Watford could well surprise a few people again.

9. Barnsley are in for a struggle.

10. Derby fans should appreciate their time up near the top of the table because its not going to last.

As for City, I’m in the we’re not boring camp, so what those figures say to me is that we need to get our shooting boots on (we’ve got the second highest number of shots off target in the division), our low position in the shots against table when compared to our league position indicates that we give our opponents a chance because we are prepared to push men forward, as evidenced by our high position in the efforts on goal rankings. Now to me, that sounds like a description of an entertaining side, but, no doubt, others will disagree. I’d like to see how anyone in the City are boring camp could come with legitimate grounds as to how they back up their argument though.

This entry was posted in Out on the pitch, The Championship and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.