I wasn’t satisfied with my analysis that Depor have won their last four games simply because they were playing against lower-ranked teams. They were, and I’m sure it contributed, but they couldn’t do exactly the same things again and again and get completely different results, as sane people the world over will know. There had to be something differentiating those games from the others. I put on my Inspector Montalbano (he was training with Vicenza yesterday – I wrote about it for Forza, here) coat and pressed my ear to the ground. Depor, of course, changed manager in February, bringing in Fernando Vazquez before a run of games against that was unforgiving to say the least; Sevilla (L), Real Madrid (L), Rayo Vallecano (D) and Barcelona (L). That run of games, though, presumably allowed Vazquez a bit of ‘free time’ to incorporate changes to his team for this recent run of games against the bottom feeders – all won.
I actually read a report about Depor’s upturn saying that the fans had to take some credit for their unwavering belief. Now, unwavering belief is creditable behaviour, but there’s no way on Earth I would credit the fans with any part of the Depor revival (Secondarily, looking at the way attendances fell (other than Barcelona and Real) over the season until the current run, and the derby against Celta, I’m not that certain I should credit them with unwavering belief when it seems progressively fewer and fewer did believe. Graph here I digress). I’m quite loathe to credit a manager to any great extent, either – the difficulty and ease of Depor’s opponents is surely the key thing – but he has obviously done something, and I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, which is why I didn’t mention Vazquez yesterday. That was probably a little remiss, all things considered. That’s why I wanted to flag him up in today’s title.
Sid Lowe has said Depor were attacking more under their new manager. Now, I like Sid, he’s a good knower of things. The overall shots analysis showed nothing of the like, as you’ll recall, but I knew I could take that up a notch in the hope that something would be revealed. As it happens, there is something going on a little further upstream.
There was no change in formation; that’s been a stable and standard 4-2-3-1 (I make that 4-5-1, though could accept 4-2-4), so there’s nothing changed there. What has changed, though, is the spread of shots. I noticed when looking through the team shots tallies. As a basic illustration, Depor’s defenders had one shot on target before Vazquez took over (24 games). Since then, they’ve combined for seven in eight games (seven in four, really). There’s a new positivity to Depor’s team – in fact, looking at the numbers, there’s almost a shoot-on-sight policy been adopted.
A similar story is true of the midfielders, as you can see below, which has brought about four goals in that time.
That leads us to the following graph, wherein players are ranked in terms of shot PER POSITION per game (so if, between the four defenders, there is four shots, that’s one per defender) to see if the dominant position that is aiming at goal has changed, too. Look, particularly, at the bars towards the right, as they’re the most recent games, and you’re looking for evidence that they’re changing from lighter blue to darker blue. They do, its fair to say, seem to be doing so.
This is all well and good, isn’t it? Let’s look a little deeper. I’ve done seasonal (seasonal. Across the whole season. Remember that) percentages for both shots that were shots on target (accuracy) and shots on target that were goals (clinicality) for the three positions. Now, if a striker is getting 50% of his shots on target into goals, he’s doing well. I’m sure you can see where that is going.
Depor’s recent good run has come from allowing all players to shoot at goal more often – particularly their defenders. They have been, as it stands, inordinately successful at it. It will not last. That’s how these things go. The defence’s clinicality will return to the norm. Shots will fly over, they will trickle into goalkeepers’ arms; they will not nestle in the back of the net. It might not be immediate, but that figure will drop, which is natural – the question, perhaps the problem, will be whether the rest of the team are capable of picking up the slack when it does.
Depor have been successful by adopting a more attacking mindset over the last few games – they’ve been fortunate enough to have their defenders come to the party and contribute with goals, but at an unsustainable rate. Going into the rest of the season, they’re relying on a quirk of probability (the defence’s scoring run continuing) or a slight improvement from the scoring performance of the midfield. Either way, the story is the same as yesterday’s post. This current run is timely, but it needs to be built on.