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What does the data tell us about Sunderland’s full-backs last season?

With a lack of depth at full-back ahead of next season, Brandon Feeley evaluates the performances of Sunderland’s and other League One full-backs in 20/21 to understand where the club needs to strengthen this summer.

Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Understanding Pizza Plots

Using WyScout’s data, I have created a visual called a Pizza Plot to compare statistics against left and right-backs from the 20/21 League One Season.

This is a fairly simple system, comparing other players stats against a selected individual will give a score between 1 – 99. The higher the number, the better they performed in comparison to other fullbacks in League 1.

However, this does not apply to Discipline stats, where you need to reverse the logic. The lower the number, the better they performed.

All stats as stated as measured per 90 minutes and only players who played more than 25% of the season are included.


What can the Plots tell us?

They can tell you a lot about what type of player you want. Look through the examples and you will find a variety of full-backs. You have more attacking, more defensive and even some fullbacks who are consistent at both. For Sunderland, we are going to in the transfer market for full-backs and it’s unclear what type of player Sunderland want.


Denver Hume - Offered Contract

Sunderland v Northampton Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Denver has often been criticised for his defensive abilities, whilst I agree with parts of this, I also think he’s still got raw ability but needs to stay fit and have a consistent run in the starting eleven.

Evaluating his stats shows what most people’s logic would think, defensively poor but a very good attacking full-back.

When you consider these stats, it is important to remember each team plays different styles of football and Sunderland don’t defend as much as Northampton or Swindon, meaning our defensive stats should be lower and attacking/passing stats slightly higher.


Callum McFadzean - Released

Unfortunately, McFadzean just wasn’t cut out for a club like Sunderland. He certainly tried his best but ultimately that is the minimum expectation when you play for Sunderland.

Some of his defensive stats are quite good as he has done several basics well, one thing the Data doesn’t measure is how many times you are caught out of position which McFadzean consistently achieved.


Max Power - Released

Like McFadzean, I always thought Power gave 100% but I never really liked him at right back. Power’s passing stats have always been incredibly high and he registers as one of the top passers in the division.

The defensive stats are similar to Hume but he has worse attacking contributions, which makes Power’s tenure at right back look ineffective.


Conor McLaughlin - Released

McLaughlin I felt was a disappointment at Sunderland.

From playing with Millwall in the Championship, I expected him to a league-leading full-back. Injuries robbed him of a lot of game time however, his stats are okay.

If McLaughlin could have stayed fit more often, I possibly would have kept him as data suggests he is good enough.


Selected League One Players

Luke Garbutt - Blackpool

If the wage cap didn’t exist, I believe Garbutt would have played for Sunderland.

His numbers as expected are really solid, they aren’t league-leading but a really consistent all-around player. This is the type of player I want Denver Hume to become, Garbutt has a reputation for being an attacking left back, but his defensive numbers are also impressive.


Lewie Coyle – Hull City

Possibly the best statistically at full-back. Just as Garbutt is consistent, Coyle is the same but more effective.

What is interesting is Coyle doesn’t venture in the box much as he’s scored at 15 for Touches in Box which is significantly lower than previous examples so far.

Coyle had an excellent season for Hull and Sunderland desperately need a player like Coyle at full-back.


Josh Ruffels – Oxford United (now Huddersfield)

Ruffels has just signed on for Huddersfield Town so I decided to include him in the examples. Defensively the strongest from the examples given, but weaker going forward.

Ruffels is more of a traditional full-back and does his defensive duties extremely well above anything else.


You can find more examples below from League 1. If you want to see specific players information, please comment below or contact me via Twitter @brandonfeeley97

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