Given the unprecedented time we are all currently living in, many of us are wishing for a return of football to bring some normality back to our lives. The UK government has given the go-ahead for the Premier League to return after the 1st of June. Rumours are however circulating that Leagues 1 and 2 will not resume, opening a potential can of worms with regards to how they finish the league, or whether it is null and void. One side dreading the latter would be Swindon Town. The Cotswold based side currently sit in 2nd position and look a certainty for automatic promotion to League 1. They owe a lot of this success to top scorer Eoin Doyle. The Irishman made a loan move permanent in January 2020, and his 25 goals make him the top scorer in all 4 divisions of English Football.
This tactical analysis scout report will use analysis to highlight Doyle’s strengths, such as finishing and movement. It will uncover the tactics used by Swindon to get the best out of Doyle. The tactical analysis will also consider any weaknesses to Doyle’s game. Finally, the tactical analysis will use statistics and analysis to see whether he could flourish in League 1.
Swindon usually lines up in a traditional 442 or a 4231, depending on the opposition. Both of these tactics suit Doyle for different reasons, and both are able to get the best out of him. The 442 is used where Swindon feel like they will dominate the game. This allows for further bodies up the pitch in goal scoring opportunities. It also facilitates the high press, actively looking to win the ball back higher up the pitch and creating a goal-scoring opportunity. This is a part of Doyle’s game the tactical analysis scout report will consider in greater detail.
The 4231 formation allows for greater solidity in midfield. Swindon will use this tactic to soak up pressure away from home or in big games and play on the counter. Doyle will use his pace to spearhead counter attacks and is usually clinical when given an opportunity. Therefore, the tactics used by Swindon, whether by design or luck have aided Doyle in his season so far. However, whilst tactics get a lot of credit, they would not be possible without a player like Doyle. His skillset means the tactics can be successful, and the tactical analysis will now consider these skills.
Finishing and movement
The tactical analysis scout report touched upon Doyle’s excellent season so far. He has 25 goals, but only an xG of 16.91. This shows that he is a lethal finisher, and can find the back of the net, even in situations where it is unlikely to score from. His conversion rate of 27.4 is extremely high, and he scores in a rate better than 1 in 4. Clearly, this shows that in front of goal, Doyle is ice cold, and will hit the target more often than not. However, the art and skill come from his movement or lack of it in some cases. The striker has such a good conversion rate because he is able to find space in the box. This gives him time to set himself for the finish and ensures no shot is rushed or panicked. The tactical analysis will consider how he does this.
Doyle is able to create space because his movement is so good. As the images above show, he goes from being tightly marked to free in the box within a matter of seconds. He does this by just holding his run before making a movement away from the defender. This, coupled with an anticipation of where the ball will be delivered to gives him time and space in the penalty area.
Another way Doyle creates space is by simply standing still. Whilst other plays move around him, Doyle will stay still. The movement of other players will naturally create space where Doyle is stood, as the image below shows. As the tactical analysis has shown, whilst Doyle is an accomplished finisher, he is equally accomplished without the ball at his feet. His ability to create and find space have been key in his high goal-scoring season.
As the tactical analysis scout report previously highlighted, Swindon like to press high up the pitch, winning the ball back and creating a goal-scoring opportunity. This is a part of the game that Doyle assists in, and has resulted in plenty of goal scoring opportunities as a result. This counter-press tactic is one that is used heavily in the Bundesliga, and it seems the same tactics have been adopted by Swindon.
Doyle’s role in the counter-press is an important one, The forward is the focal point of the attack, and therefore will have to start the press, usually on the centre-backs. He will look to block passing lanes into midfield and strategically close the space before making an attempt to win the ball. He averages 1.17 final third recoveries per 90, relatively high for his position. Again, this tactic may not work so successfully if not for Doyle. His pace and aggressiveness allow him to cover the pitch quickly, and his 6 yellow cards, relatively high for a striker, come as no shock given his style of play.
Doyle is perfect for this tactic, but this tactic is also perfect for Doyle. The counter-press allows for the ball to be won closer to goal and when the opposition are not set. This creates perfect goal-scoring opportunities for Doyle to exploit with his pace. He averages 0.3 dangerous recoveries in the final 3rd per 90, which usually result in an attempt on goal. Therefore, the tactical analysis scout report has shown the counter-press to be an effective tactic for Doyle and for Swindon. They win the ball back in dangerous areas and create more goal-scoring opportunities for Doyle.
A weakness of Doyle’s game is his involvement in the build-up. He currently only has a 0.05 xG build-up per 90. This means he very rarely gets involved in the build-up play. Now, whilst he is scoring 25 goals a season that is fine. However, if Swindon are to get promoted into League 1, they may not be as dominant in games. As a result, Doyle can potentially find himself isolated. In order to improve this aspect of his game, Swindon can do one of two things.
Firstly, the should look to partner Doyle at all times, and stick with a 442 throughout the season. A player who can play alongside Doyle as well as drop deep to link play would mean this is not a part of the game Doyle would have to do himself. He would, therefore, be able to continue to play on the shoulder of the last man and not worry about assisting in build-up or becoming isolated. This, however, is a tactic that may not be ideal. The extra striker usually means sacrificing a midfielder, and Swindon may lose some steel in the midfield.
Another option would be for Doyle to perhaps sacrifice himself for the benefit of the team. Any step-up in a division is difficult, and it is likely Swindon will be battling relegation if they were promoted to league 1. Doyle may have to, therefore, come deeper and link with the midfield, and adapt his game to ensure he is involved in the play. He would have to be smart with his positioning, however. Constantly coming deep means they are unable to stretch the backline and get them facing their own goal. Swindon will have to deploy one of these to ensure success in League 1.
Eoin Doyle has enjoyed a fantastic season at Swindon, and it comes as no shock they were eager to make his loan move permanent. The tactical analysis scout report has highlighted both his individual skills as well as the tactics used to get the best out of him. He is an ice-cold finisher and has the ability to create space for himself in dense areas of the pitch. Not only that, but he also works well defensively for the tactics. He presses from the front and creates counter-attacking opportunities. The 442 and 4231 formations allow him to play with a partner as well as playing on the counter, using his speed to spearhead attacks.
Whilst his involvement in the build-up is not too much of an issue in League 2, it may be in League 1. He may become isolated up-top against better teams. As a result, Swindon will either have to adapt their tactics, or Doyle will have to adapt his game for Swindon to be successful in League 1.