These are grim times at Aberdeen.
Derek McInnes’s side have not only failed to win any of their last five in all competitions, but they haven’t even managed a goal in their last four. It’s their worst scoreless run since 2011, and confirms the fears of many fans not exactly enamoured with the team’s style of play.
“It’s now so bad that there’s a bar called the Foundry in Aberdeen that are offering a free pint if they score in open play against Hamilton,” bemoaned JJ Bull on this week’s Totally Scottish Football Show.
So where have things gone wrong for the Dons? JJ has been crunching the numbers.
“I’ve been looking into this: there are a lot of reasons behind Aberdeen being really bad at scoring goals. The worrying thing is that Aberdeen are actually over-performing in terms of the underlying numbers: their xG for example, is 24.8 and actual goals is 30. xGA is 31.49, actual goals against is 28, which of course again is another over-performance.
“That has led to an expected points, according to WyScout data, of 32.7 against the actual points of 38. That would put them sixth in the table, which feels about right with how they’re playing at the moment.
“Aberdeen fans aren’t happy with the style of football, which has been pretty brutal to watch, horrible at times. Everyone loved it when Derek McInnes first came in…but I’ve looked at the last five seasons and things have got progressively worse despite playing the same kind of football.”
Kieran Canning, proper football man, chipped in:
“Not wanting to go all old-school Sky Sports pundit, but the game’s about players: in those previous seasons they had Graeme Shinnie, Ryan Christie, Jonny Hayes, Kenny McClean…”
JJ continued: “In 2016/17, you’d have [all those players], Ryan Jack, Adam Rooney was scoring back then, straight after that they lost players and had a rebuild, this season there was another rebuild, lost the captain [Shinnie], which is huge for any team. The team has also been decimated with injuries, especially in midfield.
“The style of play is the same, but with better players it just works. The style of play doesn’t work without the players to do it, and the players that have been brought in aren’t good enough to make it work.
“I don’t think McInnes is a tactical genius: some managers are good at man-management, constructing a team and building things that others can’t. Some people just get it, and I think McInnes is one of those people that knows how to do that. I don’t think he’s Jurgen Klopp or anything like that.”
Kieran then pointed out that conditions around Aberdeen have made things trickier for them to succeed too, but that doesn’t exonerate them from blame.
“Rangers coming back up and getting much stronger realistically means that second is now not possible, and makes getting to cup finals and semis much harder.
“But on the other hand, if you look at the other teams this season, Aberdeen should probably be romping third: Hearts have largely been a shambles, Hibs had a managerial change, Motherwell started strongly but have faded quite badly. It’s not as if there are loads of other teams blocking Aberdeen from getting to third.
“To say how poor they’ve been and they’re still three points off third, shows there’s not that great competition there.”
The Totally Scottish Football Show is going on tour! Go here for details of the shows in Glasgow on March 24 and Aberdeen on March 25.
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