Opinion/Insight: The Role of Jerry in the Side

After two league games and one match in the cup, questions are circling around Jerry Yates and the fact he’s yet to score from open play. Here we try to dissect the potential issues and consider whether we need him to start firing soon, as well as what we need from other players around the side.

When Jerry Yates signed from Rotherham, following his successful loan spell last year with Swindon Town, he was the signing that got people talking the most. Seen as our key man who would lead a new look Blackpool side, his highlight reels showed him as a free-scoring forward who would score goals from anywhere.

His record so far: 0 goals in 3 games in all competitions, with Yates squandering chances in each of the three games so far. So what was all the fuss about? Is Jerry just a League Two standard striker? Is that why Rotherham were happy to see one of their own leave? Is he all work with no final product? And if he’s not scoring, where will the goals come from?

Qualities

What doesn’t make any highlight package or get picked up on social media is Jerry’s work off the ball. His constant pressuring on the opposition’s back line encourages mistakes and allows the team to get up the pitch, allowing for the likes of Keshi Anderson, CJ Hamilton and co. to fashion a chance. On Saturday, it happened time and time again where Yates put the Swindon back line under the cosh and we managed to fathom a chance.

Yates impressed in pre-season despite not bagging a goal from open play, with his penalty at Anfield a standout moment. He also dispatched his penalty against Barrow in the EFL Trophy, but the key now is to get that much needed first league goal in tangerine.

Of course, he could’ve had the goal he craved on Saturday had Demetri Mitchell squared the ball to him to tap into an empty net. But Mitchell created the chance himself and therefore can’t be blamed for going for glory.

CJ Hamilton was the match winner in the end, scoring two goals which effectively came from nothing, either side of half-time. That turned a tight game into one where we assumed full control and were able to coast to victory over the final 30 minutes, whereas without those it may have started to look like a poor start to life under Neil Critchley.

Goals around the pitch

Yates is only 23 and is coming off the back of a really successful campaign with Swindon in League Two. Yes, it’s a step up in leagues, though both sides we’ve played so far were in League Two last year, so Yates will have to be more clinical than he had to be last year as typically chances will be fewer and further between. That said, Yates has never been a poacher who sniffs off chances in the penalty area – he’s more likely to go chasing after the ball in wide positions and bring his teammates into play.

That’s where the likes of Keshi, CJ, Bez Lubala and Kaikai will come in, as well as our latest signing Luke Garbutt.

We’ve taken a look at how many goals are needed for a side to finish in the top six in League One for each of the past five seasons, putting last year aside given the year was cut short:

Above are the number of goals scored by the top six sides in each of the last five full League One campaigns

For a team to finish in the top six of League One, they need 70 goals to make the play-offs and 84 if we have ambitions of finishing in the automatic spots. Not only will we need Yates to chip in with more than his fair share, but we’ll also rely on match winners all over the field.

Above are each of the new signings and their goals per game last campaign

Taking a look at our signings to date this summer, it’s clear that Critchley is looking for goals all over the pitch, while possibly accepting that 30 goals may not come from one player specifically this year.

Yates leads the way in terms of goals per game last season, chipping in with a goal in just over every three games, while Bez Lubala was just one goal behind him in League Two last year for Crawley. Keshi Anderson also scored nearly one in three, though his six games came in just 20 appearances. Next was Ethan Robson, who bagged three goals for Grimsby last year in 16 games, then Luke Garbutt who scored an impressive five in 28 from left-back. Oliver Sarkic also chipped in with four from 29 for Burton at League One level.

Looking at the players who remain this season and how many they scored for us last year in a more regimented style, of whom played more than 10 games, we can see that goals were in short supply, and those who created for us last year have mostly left the club.

Players who are still with us who played at least 10 games last season

Armand Gnanduillet scored 15 of our 44 goals last season, making up 34% of our total. Aside from the eight in the table above, the others came from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (4), Nathan Delfouneso (3), Jay Spearing (2), Joe Nuttall (2), Ben Heneghan (2), Ryan Edwards (1), Jordan Thompson (1), Connor Ronan (1) and Sean Scannell (1).

That doesn’t make for pleasant reading and is clearly an area the club has looked to improve on this year.

Taking a look at potentially where the goals will need to come from, we’d realistically need 75 to finish comfortably in the play-off picture. Around 40-45 of these would surely have to come from the front three, a further 18-20 from midfield and 10 from defence.

Key improvements from last season will be needed from CJ Hamilton, who has already equalled the two strikes from last season, while Dan Kemp, Oliver Sarkic and Bez Lubala will also need to step up. But largely, these numbers look achievable across the squad when you consider the capabilities of Anderson and Oliver Sarkic, as well as Ethan Robson who hit the bar on Saturday.

The signing of Luke Garbutt and the emergence of Demetri Mitchell suggests we’ll have an attacking full-back on the left-hand side, while there is still time for Critchley to decide if he needs reinforcements at right-back or the centre of defence to bolster our numbers in the backline.

Summary

Let’s be serious, it’s far too early to start suggesting Jerry is a flop, and he’s not there to score one in two like someone of the Gnanduillet, John Murphy or Scott Taylor mould. He’ll bring more to his game than goals, as he’s already shown, and will chip in with assists and build-up play for his fellow attackers. The pressure really is on the wingers and attacking midfielders to take their chances when they come along at vital times, as we look to kill teams off.

If we can build on our positive start to the season and start to climb the table, it’s likely that sides will start to park the bus, particularly at Bloomfield Road, and that’s where we’ll rely on the industry and creativity from behind Jerry. Failing that, we can always give Gary Goals a runout from the bench!

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Published by Tom Johnson

Seaside exile living in Leeds. Been watching the Pool home and away since 2001

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