The nerds have their statistical say on LOI team of the year

Mon, Dec 06 2021
Georgie Kelly topped the goalscoring charts and made a couple of teams of the year

Georgie Kelly topped the goalscoring charts and made a couple of teams of the year Credit: Eddie Lennon (ETPhotos)

The PFAI Team of the Year was named ahead of last weekend’s PFAI awards when Georgie Kelly picked up the overall player of the year award ahead of the other nominees FAI Cup winner Chris Forrester and league winner Roberto Lopes.

PFAI team of the year

James Talbot (Bohemians); James Brown (Drogheda United), Roberto Lopes (Shamrock Rovers), Ronan Boyce (Derry City), Liam Scales (Shamrock Rovers); Chris Forrester (St Patrick’s Athletic), Dawson Devoy (Bohemians), Will Patching (Dundalk), Liam Burt (Bohemians); Rory Gaffney (Shamrock Rovers), Georgie Kelly (Bohemians).

The league’s players voted for their best XI – and couldn’t vote for a club teammate – before the end of the season which maybe did for Danny Mandroiu who finished the season very strongly scoring five goals in the last four games bringing his tally to 15.

Of course Shamrock Rovers Head Coach Stephen Bradley had been critical that Mandriou hadn’t won a Soccer Writers Ireland / SSE Airtricity Player of the Month award while Bohemians had won four this year. After complaining Mandriou won the award in October, which had some opposition supporters suggesting the football writers had bowed to Bradley’s pressure. You can’t win!

Having watched every Shamrock Rovers game this year I was also surprised only one Rovers player won a player of the month award in 2021 compared with four for Bohs but I was only at a handful of Bohemians games live.

I did attend a good number of St. Patrick’s Athletic matches though and so would have had Vitezslav Jaros in the team ahead of James Talbot. But maybe some would see that as an anti-Bohs bias!

So with that in mind, I took a look at what match analysis website Wyscout has as their Premier Division team of the year. The quants have no in-built bias, it is all about cold hard data for those number crunchers so let’s delve into some expected goals, dribbles, and second assists. 

Spoiler alert, Mandroiu makes the nerds Starting XI.

Goalkeeper

Third placed Sligo Rovers got just the one player in the Wyscout team of the year and that was 22-year-old goalkeeper Ed McGinty. He topped the ‘prevented goals’ table across all the goalkeepers in the league. Working from the back, his short distribution was 97% accurate. 

Defenders

Derry City are expected to put up a serious challenge to dethrone Shamrock Rovers next season. Building on the defensive stability that saw Ronan Boyce and Danny Lafferty make the Wyscout XI, next year they will have the creativity of Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy and Will Patching. 20-year-old Boyce had an 80% pass completion ratio. On the opposite flank, left sided Lafferty scored five league goals. 

To my mind Roberto Lopes had a better season last year (when he won the Rovers Player of the Year award to go with his league winners medal) than this year – the Hoops conceded just the seven goals last year in the 18 game COVID-19 shortened campaign. However in 2021 he was central to Rovers retaining the title and – not that it figured in the Wyscout stats – played his part in helping Cape Verde qualify for next month’s African Cup of Nations check.

Lopes’ teammate Sean Hoare made the starting XI in his first season at the club. The player has shipped some criticism from Rovers fans this season and so some may be surprised to see him in the line up. His 58 passes on average over each 90 minutes was only bettered by Lee Grace (Lopes was eighth on that list with 54). While Hoare’s pass completion rate was 83%, Lopes’ was 86%. 

Midfielders

St. Patrick’s Athletic finished runners up this season with Billy King lighting up the right side of the Richmond Park pitch. The Scotsman scored seven league goals and was 60% successful with his dribbles.

On the left wing, Liam Burt earned the statistician’s selection. He scored nine goals in the league. Across the Premier Division he topped the dribble chart with ten per game and, a reflection of how dangerous the opposition players felt he was, Burt was the most fouled individual in the league this season. He was fouled 3.1 times on average per 90 minutes. 

Champions Shamrock Rovers provided the creativity in the middle of the park with Danny Mandroiu and Graham Burke. Mandroiu scored 15 league goals which was the largest amount a Rovers player had scored in the league since Gary Twigg in 2012. The former Bohs player scored 0.49 goals on average per 90 minutes. His expected goals was just 6.3.

Mandroiu was eighth on the shot list with 67 in total (2.2 per 90 mins on average) while the top three players in the shot list made the best XI. It isn’t really a surprise when you’re told that Graham Burke, who scored from the half way line this season against Derry City, topped the shots with 111 (five per 90 minutes), with Liam Burt third on 81 (2.5 per 90). Burke scored 11 goals and had the most touches in the opposition penalty area of any player in the Premier Division.

It does seem slightly strange that somehow Dylan Watts didn’t make the team despite having 13 assists (averaging 0.58 per 90 minutes). He topped the key pass table with 2.75 on average per 90 mins and was fifth in the passes completed in 90 minutes too (54). 

Strikers

Picked in both the Wyscout and PFAI team of the year (plus overall player player of the year) deservedly was Georgie Kelly. The Bohs striker scored 21 league goals (with an expected goal tally of 22). He averaged 0.69 goals per 90 mins. He had the second highest numbers of shots in the league with 94 (three per 90 minutes) and topped the attack contribution charts with 0.89 per 90 mins ahead of Burke 0.87 and Watts 0.75. He slotted home the most penalties converting six of the seven he took while Burke was second scoring four from four. 

Rounding off the team and alongside Kelly up top is 24-year-old Scottish player Matty Smith who scored 11 goals (0.35 per 90 mins).

Summary

The Wyscout team of the year had four Shamrock Rovers players, two from St. Pats, two from Derry City, two from Bohs and one from Sligo Rovers lining out in a 4-4-2 formation which was a bit odd as 4-2-3-1 was by far the formation of choice in the Premier Division.

Only three players made both the PFAI and Wyscout team of the year – Roberto Lopes, Ronan Boyce and Georgie Kelly.

The Statistician’s Starting XI: 

Ed McGinty (Sligo Rovers); Ronan Boyce (Derry City), Roberto Lopes (Shamrock Rovers), Sean Hoare (Shamrock Rovers), Daniel Lafferty (Derry City); Billy King (St. Patrick’s Athletic); Graham Burke (Shamrock Rovers), Danny Mandroiu (Shamrock Rovers), Liam Burt (Bohemians); Georgie Kelly (Bohemians), Matty Smith (St. Patrick’s Athletic)

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