The Kevin Doyle question

I received an interesting guest post this morning (from Wolves Blog regular Martin).

So I thought rather than just paste the blog onto the site, I’d do some digging into the statistics to see if I could conjure up a response to his question.

First off then, here’s his post:

Form is returning but should he start at Fulham?

Is Doyle really super?

Doyle is a genuine, honest good bloke.

And this, of course, is reflected in his play. He works hard, he tries hard and he plays for the team.

But he neither creates or scores enough goals.

Kev is, after all, a striker. And often with the formation we play, the only striker on the pitch. He is the one most likely to be in or around the box and he simply has to score more.

Four in total this season is just not enough. And when you watch him play it’s easy to see why. I don’t know whether he has got worse since he’s been with us, but his shooting is woeful. No power and often, as he drags it wide, no direction.

And when you’re a low scoring team, a low scoring centre forward  is a luxury you can ill afford.

Secondly, and this is a lesser criticism, he doesn’t create enough. I agree he starts a lot of attacks from his initial control and finding a team mate but, for me, he doesn’t have an eye for an early through ball or killer pass.

It’s a criticism I would make of the whole team really and one of the main reasons we don’t score more goals. Kightly at his best can do it and, sorry about this Clive, I think Ward can be very direct when he gets forward. (Proper left back and Ward left midfield for me.)

Much as I love Kev, I don’t see how we can afford to play him as the sole striker. There just aren’t enough goals. And unless TC can come up with a way to play them both, Fletch has got to play. His goals speak for themselves.

The stats

Martin certainly isn’t the first person to ask questions of a striker whose stock has plummeted in the last 12 months, thanks to a loss of form and the emergence of Steven Fletcher as Wolves main talisman.

To come up with a slightly more scientific response, I’ve put together a table comparing Doyle’s and Fletcher’s statistics for this season taken from the EPL Index.

As we can see, with Doyle’s 4 goals from 1662 minutes on the pitch, he averages a goal every 416 minutes (or 4.6 matches).

Fletcher by comparison will get on the scoresheet every 156 minutes (or 1.7 matches).

By those numbers, Fletch could grab another 7 goals this season if he were start every game. Doyle would be nowhere near as prolific notching between 2 and 3 goals with the same number of minutes on the pitch.

And of course that margin could very easily be the difference between survival and relegation.

As for assists, we can see that Doyle outstrips Fletcher in this respect, by a score of 4 to 1.

What’s clear when you look at this statistic, as well as their comparative number of shots and passes, is that in advanced positions Fletcher is more likely to pull the trigger, whereas Doyle will more often try to find a pass.

By this reasoning, they should (as provider and scorer) form a decent partnership, but as we know, that hasn’t yet materialised.

Interestingly, on current form (their last 3 matches), Doyle has actually outperformed Fletcher, registering 2 goals and 2 assists, compared to Fletcher’s solitary goal against Albion.

So if TC is to play 451 at Craven Cottage on Sunday, he must choose between long-term superiority or immediate form.

It’s by no means a straightforward decision.

I wouldn’t like to make it.