We return to the Sylvan Paulsson saga to find Rupel Boom on a 8 game unbeaten stretch, the only downside being that 6 of them were draws. The particular highlight being the 1-0 victory over preseason league favourites Beerschot-Wilrijk that saw their manager sacked in the referee’s changing room immediately after the game, it’s a cutthroat business I’m afraid. It also meant Sylvan had nobody to share his customary post match beer with, so who’s the real victim here? But anyway, here’s the stretch of results since our last update.
While all these draws are obviously not ideal, it does give us hope that with a little bit of good fortune the team could put together a decent run to get amongst those top 6 teams. It’s also worth noting that the team haven’t had any games where they’ve took a battering, both in terms of the scoreline or the general flow of the game.
The team have also had to contend with having to field 3rd choice left winger (and usual left back) Nick Van Der Westerlaken after suffering couple of injuries to preferred starters Seppe Kil and Jonas Laureys. While Van Der Westerlaken definitely did not embarrass himself whilst playing in a less familiar position it did coincide with the team really struggling to produce a reliable way of creating goals. This is something I likely would have missed if I wasn’t paying such close attention and taking notes on games for the sake of the blog, so that’s nice. It appears our most reliable way of creating chances has been from balls into the box from that left side where the opposite winger Mertens is waiting to poke home from close range. Hopefully, with Kil’s recent return to the line up the team should start finding the back of the net more consistently, possibly evidenced by Mertens sudden return to goal scoring form since Kil’s comeback.
As for the two areas for improvement we deemed worthy of keeping an eye on in the last post, goals from corners and player mistakes leading to goals, there are some slightly mixed results. We’ll start with the good news, in the 11 games since our last update we’ve conceded 0 goals due to players making mistakes, so we appear to have been justified in our decision to not panic and let things regress back to the mean. However on goals from corners we’ve conceded 2 in 11 (0.18 per game) after 2 in 7 (0.29 per game) in our previous post. While this is an improvement it still puts us at 18th of 19 in the league in this particular stat and could be something we consider tweaking between now and our next update. Tied to this is the number of times our defenders make slightly errant, but not ridiculously poor, back passes which our goalkeeper has decided to consistently leave and give up cheap corners to the opposition. Usually this wouldn’t be too much of an issue but considering our record defending corners is pretty poor I’d much prefer it if the keeper would make the arduous 6 yard journey from his line to collect the ball. I’m not sure if this is a match engine issue, as a lot of the balls he leaves defy common sense, but we’re going to experiment with setting his role to sweeper keeper (defend) to see if that can coax him off his line in such situations.
Finally, slightly off-topic but something I’ve found pretty interesting in understanding how we perceive player performances has been moving from extended to comprehensive highlights in games. I think in particular defenders get a bad rap when games are viewed in extended/key highlights because you’re pretty much guaranteed that they’re going to do something sub-optimally if the clip is deemed a highlight. Watching in comprehensive highlights gives you a little more balance in showing you times when a defender does his job correctly to stop the opposition from getting in a position where an extended/key highlight would occur. That’s not to say everyone MUST use comprehensive highlights but it’s just something to bear in mind when playing, that defender who makes a slight error to cost you a goal has probably done the correct thing in that situation 10 times but the highlights didn’t decide to show you it happening.
The next update will come around the end of the transfer window (although not sure how much room we have to manoeuvre on that front, but wait and see) and will also have a look at how Sylvan has progressed as a manager as he hopefully gets his hands on his first coaching badge. Until then, GAAN BOOM!