One of the talking points after the resumption of football in the EFL Championship was Lyle Taylor‘s refusal to play for Charlton again. The 30-year-old striker was out of contract and did not want an injury to ruin his chances of a move to a club. This raised the question, which club would he sign for? Fast forward to the end of the season and Nottingham Forest have secured his signature. He joins the midlands side who agonizingly missed out on the play-offs on the last day of the season. However, Taylor joins with the expectation another promotion push will be mounted by Sabri Lamouchi’s side this season.
The move is one that excites the Garibaldi red. Forest have been crying out for adequate back-up to Lewis Grabban, to bolster their attacking options. Taylor comes with an impressive record at a poor Charlton side. He and Forest will be hoping this is a match made in heaven, and his goals propel them to the Premier League.
This scout report will use tactical analysis to look in-depth into Taylor’s game. It will use analysis to highlight any strengths and weaknesses in his game. In particular, it shall analyse his off the ball movement. It will also look at how Taylor will fit into the tactics at the City Ground. On the surface, it looks like he will supplement Grabban in the attack. However, the tactical analysis will consider if a change of formation to fit both players in would be beneficial. Firstly, the analysis will consider Taylor’s off the ball movement.
One of Taylor’s strengths is his off the ball movement. The striker is consistently looking to get in behind the opponents and often plays on the shoulder of the last man. This is a strength to any side. Running in behind stretches the opposition, forcing them to turn towards their own goal. This allows for greater space between the opposing midfield and defence for the ball to play in. Alternatively, his running in behind might force teams to drop deeper when playing against him. Again, this is advantageous to the side playing with Taylor. By forcing the opposition to drop deeper to protect against balls over the top, they give up territory. Forest then look to squeeze up the pitch, making it difficult for them to play out, making possession regains easy.
One of the weaknesses of Taylor and his movement, however, is that he very rarely gets involved in the build-up play. By constantly running in behind, he sometimes who the midfield can playoff and get involved higher up the pitch with. This means that if the supply to him is not perfect, the ball will not stick up top. This made it difficult for Charlton to consistently sustain attacks. It also meant he very rarely linked up with the players around him, and therefore received little support from the midfield.
The scout report has shown that Taylor’s movement has both its strengths and weaknesses for any side. The analysis has shown his running in behind stretches the opposition and forces them to alter their tactics. However, Taylor might need to mix his game up. If continues as a one-man strike force, he has to hold the ball up and bring others into play more often.
Defending from the front
An element of Taylor’s game that would have attracted Lamouchi to him is his defensive responsibility. Its an aspect of Taylor’s game in which he excels in and benefits any team he plays for. The scout report will consider how Taylor does this and why it is effective to have him in the side. It will use analysis of statistics to consider his potential role at Forest.
Firstly, Taylor averages 0.4 tackles and interceptions per 90. This is extremely high for an attacking player of any side. It highlights that he is a willing worker for his side when out of position. This allows the team to engage in a press to win the ball higher up the pitch. By doing so, they can look to regain the ball in attacking areas and spring counter-attacks. Therefore, Taylor’s defensive work is an asset to any side. He looks to initiate the press and, if executed, can create goal-scoring opportunities for himself or his team-mates. In comparison, Grabban makes 0.2 tackles and 0.1 interceptions per 90. Taylor would, therefore, bring greater defensive responsibility and assist Forest in that respect.
As well as winning the ball back, Taylor also commits a large number of defensive fouls. The forward averaged 1.7 fouls per game, compared to Grabbans who averaged one foul per game. This means that Taylor, more often than not, restricted counter-attacks against his team. This meant that they were able to reset and avoid being hit on the counter. These are ‘tactics’ that are supposedly encouraged by Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. It has its advantages but runs the risk of suspension if overused. The tactical analysis has shown through analysis that Taylor will be a defensive asset. His work off the ball will allow Forest more opportunities to win the ball higher up the pitch and counterattack.
What can he bring to Forest?
Finally, the tactical analysis will consider what he will bring to Forest, and how he will fit in. Some tactics that we saw a few times throughout last season was Lamouchi’s switch to a 3-5-2. It suited the full-backs who like to attack and allowed a partner for Grabban, who could occasionally become isolated. However, it wasn’t a tactic that was always successful. This was mainly because Joe Lolley, who would play as the 10 would find that Sammy Ameobi who played as a makeshift forward would crowd that area, breaking down attacks. The introduction of a true number 9 in Taylor should help with this. As the analysis has shown, Taylor likes to run in behind the opposition. In a 3-5-2 formation, this will create space for the number 10. This would suit someone like Lolley, who is a great ball carrier and has a goal from distance. Therefore, Taylor might have been introduced to see a switch in formation.
Another possible change we could see, and one that Forest fans will be hoping for, is a change to a 4-4-2 formation. On average, Taylor averaged a goal every 146 minutes for a poor Charlton side. On the other hand, Grabban averaged a goal every 190 minutes for Forest last season. It is hard to imagine Taylor comes in as a replacement and would have signed on the premise of promised first-team minutes. Therefore, a switch to 4-4-2 makes sense. Forest have a plethora of options in regards to defensive midfielders, and on occasion playing three was sometimes overkill. A move to 4-4-2, in particular in games where they should expect to dominate would allow them a greater attacking threat. They can look to put the opposition on the back foot from the get-go. It would also see Grabban receive more support should they look to play on the counter, taking a large load of his shoulders.
What is not expected, and something that would be a surprise in Nottingham is Taylor leading the line instead of Grabban. As the analysis has shown, Taylors style is particularly suited to playing up-top on his own, and he would be better in a two. If he were to replace Grabban, Forest would be sacrificing a man who does everything Taylor can not. He holds the ball with his strength, brings others into play, and sacrifices himself for the good of the team. The logical explanation would be to see Forest move to a two-man strike force.
In conclusion, the scout report has highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of Lyle Taylor. He will bring excellent movement in behind and allow Forest to stretch teams. In a two-man strike force, this would be much needed, allowing to focus more on holding the ball. His defensive work rate should also not be underestimated. He wins the ball back a lot in games, and once again in a partnership up front, could lead to plenty of counter-attacking opportunities.
Whether the signing proves to be a success or not remains to be seen. However, Forest narrowly missed out on the play-offs and will blame their lack of goals for it. If they can remain just as tight at the back, the introduction of Taylor will bring goals and potentially a return to the top flight for the first time in over 20 years.