Isn't it wonderful that Huddersfield Town have signed a player? He’s called Radoslaw Majewski, and you’ll remember him for being part of the Nottingham Forest side that took Town apart the season before last. As Forest’s wealth has increase, the Pole had become increasingly peripheral, so a move to West Yorkshire will offer the 27-year-old an opportunity to get his career back on track. Having seen Majewski a few times, I know a few things about him, but they’re the eye-catching ones. Now he’s with a team I support, I’d like to know more of the nitty gritty. So, I’ve drawn a few graphs, compared him with a few players and have developed a better picture.
My impression of Majewski is that he’s a bit of a creative force; one of those who takes passes from the defence, or deeper lying midfielders, and prompts play from those further forward, all the while contributing something of a goal threat himself.
I’m going to look at the statistics for the figures I consider important to a midfielder – taken from WhoScored and Squawka over last season – and compared the Pole to the following group of players’ time at Huddersfield last season. While I accept its unlikely he’ll replace some of them, I’ve chosen this group as players he could, conceivably, be used instead of at some point.
That group consists of the central midfielders Jonathan Hogg, Oliver Norwood, Adam Clayton and Oscar Gobern as well as the wider players, Danny Ward, Sean Scannell, Adam Hammill and the more attacking options of Dwayne Holmes and Joe Lolley (see note₁).
Point 1 - Passing
It’s an important area for midfielders to conquer, passing, and with Huddersfield at least attempting to become more of a ‘ball on the deck’ team, they would be better served if their players were able to find one another with the ball. Majewski’s pass completion ratio last season was 83%, which was equal to Jonathan Hogg, but above all the other players in my group.
This is encouraging for ball retention, especially taken in conjunction with the average pass length of the players involved – the reason Norwood and Clayton’s accuracy drops a little is that they pass the ball further that Jonathan Hogg, so an extra player around the squad who does the shorter, sharper, balls should help there (Norwood 22m, Clayton 21m, Hogg 18m, Majewski 16m).
In this, then, Majewski represents an improvement on what is already at the club and further indicates the direction in playing style that Ross Wilson and Mark Robins are trying to take the team.
Point 2 – Creation
There’s no point keeping the ball if you do nothing with it, so creating chances – particularly in the midfield area – is a key part of the game. Football has changed from a game that basically gave the ball to the wingers and saw them try to get as far as they could before swinging in a cross though, if you note Adam Hammill’s figures on the graph below, not so very much.
Again, in this, Majewski is considerably above the likes of Jonathan Hogg and Oliver Norwood, rivalling Adam Clayton in those who are providing opportunities for their team mates. The aspect of Majewski in possession of the ball is certainly coming to look like a valuable addition to the squad and suggesting that my initial impression of the player isn’t far off the mark.
Point 3 – Defence
While the evidence already presented gives indication of a positive player – one actively involved in the getting of goals. It is rare at Championship level, and particularly rare in a player that would be allowed to leave a club as unceremoniously as Majewski was, to see players who are equally valuable at both ends of the field. I’m expecting Majewski to suffer somewhat in his defensive actions.
Generally, I count defensive actions as part of a ‘Big 3’ – tackles, interceptions and clearances. The former is general, the second favours more mobile players and the third favours positional play.
Majewski fits into the lower end of this graph, but that comes with a couple of caveats. The first is that he was playing last season with Nottingham Forest, a team in which because their play was generally better, and their possession, so his opportunities to defend will have been limited. The second is that his number of interceptions is good – 1.12 per game is second only to Norwood and Clayton. Assuming that those three will play together often, it suggests a central midfield group who will be willing and able to buzz around opposition players winning the ball back so, while Majewski might not offer a great deal in terms of tackling, or clearances, he will pull his weight in his position.
Point 4 – Shooting
This is the part of Majewski’s game that I probably know best; he’s a scorer of great goals rather than a great scorer of goals (unless you’re a Terriers side visiting him on a Tuesday night in early 2013) but my impression is one of someone who is liable to potshots from distance that may, or more likely, may not, come off. I’m generally anti-long shot; I see them as wasteful and symptomatic of a lack of ideas. If ever they are deployed, it should be with caution and not as a last resort; that’s not the same approach as I expected to see from Majewski.
Happily, the figures tell a slightly different story. If we’re looking at midfielders as being generally more likely to shoot from further from goal, then their split of shots will top out at around 50/50 in terms of shots on and off target – Majewski’s figure skews slightly in favour of shots on target (52%, as it happens) though, last season, it was to no reward – as the graph shows in the dot that represents percentages of on-target shots that were converted, he managed 0 – an easily reckoned 0%.
That Adam Clayton managed 7 goals from his 22 shots explains his high figure in that regard, while Danny Ward was deployed as a striker, so the amount of shots he made (83) remains quite well balanced, and explains his high goal figure. Not so much an area of concern, but something that might be worth keeping tabs on. If you’re a numbers person, you might think Majewski has had a fair few shots without scoring. If you’re not, then you could reckon he was ‘due’ a goal. We shall see.
The numbers suggest that Majewski is at least as good, if not better, than Town’s most creative passers last season. His willingness to attack might mean he suffers a little defensively but as he is seldom the last line of defence, that can be sutured by the more defensive minded players. It remains to be seen if he possesses enough drive and solidity to be relied upon every match, but he is surely able to pick locks that others cannot and should become a valuable member of the midfield canon.
A good signing and a positive addition to a squad that was lacking something in that regard 7/10.
Defensive and passing stats from www.whoscored.com, attacking and passing stats from www.squawka.com
In retrospect, including Joe Lolley and Duane Holmes was a bit misleading; hindsight is a fine thing but I won’t dwell a lot on their numbers.
By Marco Jackson