Middlesbrough finished the last season in 7th place and narrowly missed the promotion playoffs. They scored 59 goals but also conceded 50 times, finishing the season with a record of 20 wins, 10 draws and 16 losses and a goal difference of +9. It was Boro’s 1-4 loss on the final matchday that derailed their promotion playoff hopes. As a result, the club from North Yorkshire need to upgrade their defensive department if they are to mount a better challenge for promotion this season. They have brought in Irish defender Darragh Lenihan from Blackburn Rovers on a free transfer to do just that.
Lenihan made 43 appearances in all competitions for Blackburn Rovers last season, 41 of which came in the EFL Championship. He played for 3,619 minutes, during which he scored three goals and assisted once. It took his goal involvement to one every 904 minutes from centre-back. Most of his successful duels came in the form of aerial duels, followed by ground-based defending duels and 50/50s. With a height of 187 cm, it is easy to see why this is the case. The Irishman also won quite a few aerial battles in the opponents’ penalty box, mostly from set-pieces.
Lenihan completed lots of interceptions during his time on the pitch. As a defensive-minded player, most of these came in the defensive third with quite a few of these coming inside his penalty area. He won 58 tackles and 43 interceptions or 2.51 tackles and interceptions per 90 combined. The Irishman also made some of his interceptions in the midfield.
Lenihan was most active and influential in the right-sided region of the centre-back. He also covered for the right-back whenever the latter made advancing and overlapping runs into the final third. Two of his appearances came from the right-back position. Often, the Irishman stopped opposition attacks and recovered the balls, though most of his recoveries came inside his half. He rarely made advancing runs.
Seen in the above visual is Lenihan’s pass map. He was a very reliable passer of the ball for Blackburn. Even though he completed multiple balls into the attacking third and some into the opposition’s penalty box, he mostly opted to play simple short passes to teammates in more space and in a better position.
Darragh Lenihan was a very dependable defender for Blackburn Rovers last season but did not renew his contract with the club. Blackburn’s loss is Middlesbrough’s gain. Boro will hope that the Irishman performs well for them.