George Tanner at Morecambe 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

Carlisle United have gone through a major squad overhaul this summer. The team three divisions below EPL champions Liverpool have brought in many promising signings. The standout name here could well be George Tanner. The 20-year-old came through at Manchester United. 2019-20 saw him spend the first half of the season on loan at Morecambe, and the second half of the season on loan at Salford City. Whilst he did not play a minute for Salford, he was very impressive with the Shrimps. That string of performances showed the potential Tanner has, and now permanently at Carlisle, he could get the chance to show it even more.

This scout report will provide a tactical analysis of Tanner’s spell at Morecambe. The analysis will look at how Tanner fitted into the Shrimps’ tactics and the areas of his game that he both excels in and needs to improve in.

Role In The Team

George Tanner is primarily a right-back, though can play further up the flank. He is also an accomplished left-back, showcasing his excellent versatility. 14 of his 23 league starts for Morecambe came at right-back. Five were further forward on the right flank. The remaining four came in the left-back role.George Tanner at Morecambe 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

The image above shows Tanner’s heatmap. The warmer the colour, the more often the 20-year-old was positioned there. The heatmap clearly shows Tanner’s tendency to push forward up the right flank. He wants to get forward on the overlap and affect the game in the final third of the pitch. At the same time though, the 20-year-old is aware of his defensive duties and looks to track back when possible.

Tanner’s excellent physical qualities enable him to do this. He possesses superb stamina, but is also smart with regards to conserving his energy for sprints. The modern full-back is expected to commit to all phases of play. They usually occupy the entire flank for themselves, with inverted wingers coming more infield. George Tanner fits the bill of the modern professional full-back perfectly. At the age of just 20, he still has plenty of potential as well. Carlisle United have an exceptional talent on their hands.

Recoveries and Defensive Duels

Though attack-minded, George Tanner’s defensive contributions are very noteworthy. The graph below shows the 20-year-old’s ball recoveries over the last 12 month period.George Tanner at Morecambe 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

Tanner had an average of 9.1 recoveries every 90 minutes whilst with Morecambe. The vast majority of these understandably came in his own third.

Most of his central third and final third recoveries came as a result of counterpressing. This is the process of trying to win back the ball immediately after losing possession. As Tanner’s heatmap earlier showed, the full-back’s average position was around the half-way line. His relatively high position leaves him in the ideal place to counter press and win possession of the ball upfield.

A great example of Tanner counterpressing is shown below. It comes ina  game away at Colchester United.George Tanner at Morecambe 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

Morecambe lose possession inside the opposition half. Tanner is initially forwards having made an overlap. Quickly looking to close down space, the 20-year-old makes a recovery run past the ball. His movement is then out to the wing, and from there he takes possession off of Colchester’s Callum Harriott. Tanner’s recovery run not only wins back possession, but prevents Harriott from carrying the ball upfield by blocking the space in front of him. Carlisle United will greatly benefit from having a full-back who is this intelligent when counterpressing.

If not given the opportunity for a successful counter press, Tanner will drop into the backline and create a rigid unit. His role in this situation is to monitor his most direct opponent, usually the opposing left-winger. This is something Tanner is certainly capable of doing. The 20-year-old had an average of 9.14 successful defensive duels in the first third. The vast majority of these came out on the right flank. This is a very impressive average for a player who looks to commit to the attacking phase as often as possible. With a total success rate of 56.25% from all his attempted defensive duels, George Tanner looks an accomplished League Two defender. He should be a great fit to the Cumbrian club’s backline.

Ball Distribution

Across the last 12 months, Tanner had an average of 32.73 passes per 90 minutes with 72.94% accuracy. On average, just 7.35 of these passes were progressive. George Tanner at Morecambe 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

The graph above shows Tanner’s passing accuracy and length in key areas. What becomes immediately clear is that Tanner’s passing is most accurate when just inside the opposition half. This is in part down to his high natural position up the right flank. The 20-year-old’s passing accuracy decreases when passing progressively. This is mainly due to opposition players blocking off forward options.

As the below example shows, George Tanner is also sensible when with the ball in his own half. He knows that as a full-back, a loss of possession could lead to the opposition having a clear route to goal.George Tanner at Morecambe 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

Even before receiving the pass, Tanner is closed down by Colchester’s Callum Harriott. Recognising this, Tanner quickly plays the ball back to his nearby team mate. Immediately afterwards, Tanner runs backwards and out to the touchline. These two actions change the shape of the players on the pitch and open up new passing opportunities for both Tanner and his team mates. Even without playing a forward pass, Tanner has created an opportunity to progress the ball by taking a few steps back from where he first was.

Tanner’s passing is relatively short range when in his own half and the middle third. When in the final third, he will look to cross and provide longer range, cross-field passes.George Tanner at Morecambe 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

The image above shows Tanner’s crosses over the last 12 months. The 20-year-old had an average of 2.53 crosses per 90 minutes, but only 0.73 on average were accurate. The majority of Tanner’s successful crosses went deep towards the other side of the penalty area. Out here, the receiving player is usually on the blindside of their closest opponent. They are able to either control the cross unmarked, or use their momentum to run onto the cross from deep and win the ball in the air.

Whilst Tanner’s high crosses tend to be aimed towards the far end of the penalty area, his low crosses aim to reach players closer to him. The example below comes away at Colchester United.George Tanner at Morecambe 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

Tanner’s opportunity for a low cross comes from an excellent underlap of Lewis Alessandra. Stood next to the byline, Tanner quickly notices Cole Stockton running from the centre of the box to the near post. The full-back picks him out with a low, driven cross that heads backwards from where it originally came. Stockton gets to the cross, and his low shot forces a save from Colchester’s Dean Gerken.

Tanner’s crossing ability is still raw at his young age, but he can prove very useful for Carlisle United this season. His ability to overlap and underlap the winger ahead of him will greatly benefit the Cumbrians during matches. 

Dribbling

As a player who likes to get forward as often as possible, Tanner gets plenty of opportunities to show how accomplished a dribbler he is. The image below shows his dribble numbers over the last 12 months.George Tanner at Morecambe 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

Tanner had an average of 3.27 dribbles per 90 minutes, with a 79.5% success rate. The majoruty of his dribbles came in the final third when his direct opponent was a left-back. With an 82.4% success rate here, he would almost always beat his opponent when upfield.

An example of his dribbling ability is shown below. It comes from a game at home to Oldham Athletic. George Tanner at Morecambe 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

Tanner is comfortable facing up to an opponent when one-v-one. Initially front-on, Tanner uses his excellent acceleration and agility to quickly change direction and get past his opponent. Close to the line and leading with his stronger right foot, he is then in a position when he can either cross or further carry the ball into the penalty area.

The 20-year-old’s composure and tendency to dribble in the final third will prove incredibly useful to Carlisle’s attacking play. Utilising the overlap or underlap past players like Omari Patrick, Tanner could find himself presented with plenty of dribbling opportunities whilst with the Cumbrians.

General Areas Of Improvement

Of course at just 20-years-old, George Tanner’s game is not yet perfect. There are still several areas that can certainly improve on whilst under contract at Carlisle United.

The article has already recognised how good Tanner’s defensive contribution is, particularly around the first third of the pitch. Despite this, the 20-year-old does still loss a notable number of defensive duels within range of his own team’s goal. Tanner’s total of 62 lost defensive duels in his own third averages out to 3.43 every 90 minutes. One very notable lost duel came within yards of his team’s goal, and resulted in the opposition scoring. 

Tanner’s new club are hoping to improve on a disappointing 2019-20 league campaign. For this to happen, Tanner’s will want to improve his success rate when it comes to defensive duels. 56.25% is an already solid number, but to fulfil his potential and match Carlisle’s future ambition, he will want to be more successful when competing against an opponent.

As a player who likes to get forward whenever possible, Tanner’s progressive run statistics are also an area of improvement. The 20-year-old averages 1.96 progressive runs every 90 minutes. 71.7% of the time though, these runs end with a loss of possession. This comes through either being tackled or carrying the ball out of play. 

As a full-back, there are plenty of opportunities during a game for Tanner to progress the ball up the flank. His low success rate however indicates that this is one of the key areas of his game that still needs to improve. Decision-making plays a big part here. His ability to recognise the positioning of players around him will aid in choosing whether an accurate pass, shot, or further touches of the ball is the best outcome for retaining possession.

When George Tanner does enter the final third, he will on occasion look to have a shot at goal. The full-back has attempted 20 shots over the last 12 months. He has so far failed to score from any of them though. This is in part due to them being from tight angles out on either flank, and in positions that require high levels of accuracy and curve in order to beat the goalkeeper. Whilst it is encouraging to see the 20-year-old get forward and have attempts at goal, a number of his shots have come from positions where a pass or cross into the penalty area would have been a much more suitable option. Much like with his progressive runs, his decision-making at the end of final third actions is a notable area that needs improvement.

Conclusion

Among the abundance of new Carlisle United signings is 20-year-old George Tanner. The former Manchester United product is a promising full-back who can operate on either side. He showed his ability and potential with an excellent loan spell at Morecambe, and is now permanently at Brunton Park.

An accomplished defender, Tanner has excellent physiological qualities that allow him to both join the attack and track back to form part of the defensive unit. He is an excellent player for a counterpressing system, and excels at the overlap and underlap when his team is in possession.

At the still tender age of just 20, there are still areas of his game that can improve. His decision-making in the final third, particularly after progressive runs and dribbles, is not always correct. Joining a club who have long-term ambitions of getting back into the third tier, Tanner will also want to improve his already impressive defensive contribution. In particular, the 20-year-old will want to increase his success rate with defensive duels, as his failure to win the ball has proved costly to former clubs in the pass.

As a player just beginning his career though, George Tanner already looks one of League Two’s leading full-backs. Carlisle currently have him under contract until June 2022. By the time that contract is up, Tanner will be 22, and well on his way to becoming a player who should feature much higher up the English pyramid. The defender is certainly one that clubs should and will keep an eye on.