Monday, 21 November 2011

The numbers game

I love my stats.
So much so, that many people call me just that, and to live up to that mantle, I have been compiling some numbers pertaining to Cheltenham's loan players, and just how much they have added to the side in recent weeks.
Jack Butland is at the centre of much of the focus on the team at the moment.
The 18 year old Bristolian's loan ends on December 11, so as it stands his last game will be against Southend the day before, meaning we have two more games to enjoy having the future England goalkeeper in our side.
Yes, future England goalkeeper. Gareth Southgate said so, therefore it must be true.
On Twitter, Jim Proudfoot sent me this about Jack: "Never seen a young player who I would be so confident about winning 50 caps. JB is sensational"
This from the man who commentates on the England Under 21 games for ESPN or whoever is showing it, so he does know his stuff, despite being a Torquay fan.
Several papers are touting Jack to be called up for the Euro 2012 squad as back up for Joe Hart, and he is also being backed to be Team GB's number one for the Olympics.
Amazing stuff - and it would be amazing if Mark Yates could find a way to keep him after Southend, but Chris Hughton might want him to challenge for his team, or play higher up the leagues.
He has to weigh up whether he is ready to replace Boaz Myhill in the Championship, or whether there is a League One side who would give Butland a regular game as we have done.
I suspect goalkeeping coach Dave Watson will have a say in what happens, and the suggestions I have heard are that he would like Butland to stay with us, which is good news, so it's all down to Mr Hughton now.
Butland appeared in our side first against Macclesfield, and has played every league game bar Dagenham, which he missed for England duty, and Crewe for which he was injured.
In those 10 games, we have won seven, drawn two and only lost one, which was the 4-1 loss at AFC Wimbledon.
Butland has kept six clean sheets, and let in eight goals - half of which came at Kingsmeadow.
Two of the others were long-range efforts at Torquay in our 2-2 draw and one was Lee Brown's deflected shot at Bristol Rovers.
The other, of course, was his only real mistake in those 10 games, dropping the ball on Steve Elliott's foot for Plymouth's goal in our 2-1 win.
Scott Brown has played in our other eight league games. We have won four and lost four of those games, with Brown keeping only one clean sheet, against Swindon, but only letting in one more goal than Butland has, with nine.


Another factor in that run of success recently has been the decision of Mark Yates to change the full-backs, with Sido Jombati coming into the side and the arrival of loanee Luke Garbutt.
The season started with Keith Lowe and Danny Andrew keeping the full-back positions they held last term.
Few Cheltenham fans were complaining at that decision, as Lowe had been player of the year and Andrew's attacking runs, crosses and free-kicks had supplied a few goals - even though his defensive capabilites were criticised at times.
This season, with Lowe and Andrew at full back, we played 10 games, winning four, drawing two and losing four, and conceding 13 our our 17 goals.
Andrew was left out at Bristol Rovers, so Lowe partnered Jombati, and we won that game 3-1.
After that, Garbutt and Jombati were paired, starting with the win over Dagenham, and we have not looked back since, with six wins in their seven games, and three goals conceded - the penalty Sido gave away against Crewe, the own goal against Plymouth and Dagenham's scruffy tap-in.


I have also been looking at our midfield partnerships, and how they have performed in our league games.
Much has been made of how much the trio of Marlon Pack, Luke Summerfield and Russ Penn have contributed and when they have all played together (eight games) we have won seven and lost the Crewe game, letting in five goals in that time.
Many fans (myself included) figured that we would be seeing Penn and Pack together, and they have played seven games together, of which we have won only two, drawn three and lost three.
The wins were at home against Swindon and Crawley, but the defeats included the one at Wimbledon.
Pack and Summerfield played at Gillingham on the opening day and in the win over Plymouth, while the only time when we saw Penn and Summerfield together was in the 2-0 win over Macclesfield, when Pack was suspended.

In attack, Jimmy Spencer has been with us on loan from Huddersfield since the start of the season, and is due to be here until January.
He has started every game bar two that he has been eligible for, having been suspended for four games, three after his red card against Swindon and one for five bookings against Plymouth.
He started the season alongside Jeff Goulding, and they have played together three times - and we have not won any of them, losing at Gillingham and AFC Wimbledon and drawing at Torquay.
Spencer and Duffy has been tried twice in a 4-4-2, in the 1-0 win over Swindon and the goalless draw with Hereford.
The six games in which Spencer has been banned or left out has seen Jeff Goulding and Darryl Duffy partnered, and we won four and lost two of those games, beating Northampton, Crawley, Macclesfield and Plymouth, and losing to Aldershot and Morecambe.
Then, in seven of the last eight games when we have played the 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 formation (bar Plymouth when we played 4-4-2 as Spencer was banned), Spencer was used as the central front man for five of them.
Four of them have been won, and only the Crewe home game ended in defeat.
The other two, the win at Bradford and at home to Port Vale, have seen Duffy in the central role - mainly because of his two goal display against Plymouth - while Spencer displaced Low on the right flank of the midfield.