David Brooks’ first season in the league after a transfer from Steel City was electrifying and one of promise. During his first season at Bournemouth, David Brooks highlighted his strengths, as well as some of his flaws. He was a quality prospect, which we will take a deep dive into this analysis.
However, after an ankle injury during the preseason, David Brooks would reportedly be back to play in mid-October, until an operation on his ankle saw him sidelined until last month, where play has been postponed. This tactical analysis will highlight his stellar 2018-19 season, the impact of his injury, his role in Eddie Howe’s tactics, and an evaluation of his potential by viewing his strengths and weaknesses.
Position & role
Stationed on at RM for most of his games, David Brooks operates as a wide playmaker. Under this role, he disregards 1-v-1s, sitting with the ball if need be. He uses this to his advantage to help create chances from wide angles through long through balls, lofts, and quick, intelligent short passes. This will keep Bournemouth’s offense unpredictable, but tough to quickly deal with.
80% of his key passes were from a short distance. This image highlights his good lofts over the defensive line, which at times can cause Bournemouth to score after quick passing play.
One of the ways Brooks performs his role well is that he exploits wide angles for chance creation. He does this primarily with through balls, where successful ones are important in determining the outcome of a counter-attack. As Callum Wilson is not too clinical of a finisher, you can state that unfortunately, some of his good input is turned in to wasted output at times.
Since Brooks is a good dribbler, he is fairly good at taking on the opposition’s LB. He has won 36.4% of his battles with fullbacks, which is a decent success percentage. He has beaten some of the lower quality fullbacks in the league should I say, though he has beaten the likes of Ryan Fredericks and Matty Lowton. Here, he crisscrosses Burnley Dutchman, Erik Pieters.
He will take on fullbacks in deep areas of the pitch. When and if he wins them, he will be on his tippy toes, slowly seeking to find a player in the box he will cross the ball to. While he completes only 27% of his crosses, he does have seven key passes from crosses. His crossing success is not impressive but given that most wide midfielders in the league are not good crossers of the ball, Brooks can be given some slack.
Last season, Bournemouth had arguably one of the greatest counter-attacking sides in the league. This makes sense, given that Ryan Fraser was second in assists only to Eden Hazard last season. Fraser is very rapid, Joshua King is a good creator, and Wilson can sniff out chances within the 6-yard box. However, also as a starter, Brooks can be acclaimed with attribution as well. He does have some pace and he is a danger in the box, which we will discuss in the next section of this report.
Also, last season, David Brooks averaged 1.2 tackles and 0.8 interceptions per match. This is considerably impressive just for wide midfielders in general. The modern game does not seek much defensive contribution from wide midfielders besides fullbacks stationed in this position and wing-backs. This alone opens up the opportunity to convert Brooks into a defensive-winger if Bournemouth ever look to have a more defensive style of play.
David Brooks is a seriously dangerous threat in eighteen yards from goal. In the box, comes some of his most intelligent and efficient play. In the box, he takes minimal touches, dictating play with excellent decision making. As an example, let us look at the image below.
In the image above vs. Man United, we can see that Brooks is on the ball near the edge of the box. Space in the box is quite limited. So, with a usual thought process, many may think that it would make sense for Brooks to dribble backward and find the open man. However, plays like these show that Brooks’ vision, and reading of the game, are definitely on another level at times. They highlight a footballing IQ that rivals many other wide midfielders in the league, regardless of, if he can cross a ball or not. To dominate such congested space is an extremely hard task, but the execution on this ball shows that he can make it happen at times, in some instances. This cross was successful as he assisted a header to the player closest to the keeper there.
Dribbling & chance creation
His one key pass per game is an area of his game he could work on. Almost all his chances come via the following ways: A) through lobs in the box, B) through short through balls to break the defensive line, and C) through crosses from deep areas after beating his man. While he utilizes these methods of chance creation successfully most of the time, he must expand his portfolio and find a greater arrangement of ways to unlock opposition defenses.
The two biggest, most vital skills of a modern wide midfielder are those of dribbling and chance creation. However, Brooks only averaged one key pass and 0.8 successful dribbles per game. Right off the bat, we, of course, know that these are not good numbers. Most great wide midfielders in the league would be creating at least 1.25 key passes and completing at least 1.5 successful dribbles per game. Brooks is undoubtedly far from both marks. In fact, when it comes to his averages, he is averaging somewhere near 0.25 fewer key passes and 0.8 fewer dribbles than a normal quality wide midfielder – for instance, Andros Townsend or Lucas Moura.
With quality data analysis, however, we can learn one thing from his 0.8 dribbles per game, and his 36.4% dribbling success rate. Most of the time, he will know whether it is smart or not to attempt a dribble. Because of this, he is more conservative when it comes to dribbling, so he has a lower number of dribbles per game, but a higher dribbling success rate. This highlights his good IQ of the game. A great time he chose to dribble was when he decided to turn on Huddersfield’s fullback, using his great physicality to complete the dribble, as shown above.
Though, there are times when he does make the wrong decision. A bad decision he makes disregarding 1-2 passes. He often neglects these in his game, likely because he believes his good physicality will always carry him past defenders. Coach Howe must help him in this area.
David Brooks’ strengths are that of the following: successful chance creation, defensive contribution, good decision making, a good football IQ, good body type, good strength, good physicality, and good utilization of wide angles. In this section, we will further analyse the further improvements that can be introduced to Brooks’ game.
At times, he will turn his back, not recognising the poor stance of his fullback, simply playing a pass back to one of his defenders without knowing that he could have potentially completed a dribble.
These opportunities may not come easy. It is his job to take his space and to take advantage of opportunities that definitely are not the most complex. By taking his space more often, David Brooks will advance possession further up the field, and complete more dribbles and potentially creating more opportunities to create key passes or assists.
Also, he does not have much diversification of ways to create chances. This is definitely concerning for the Premier League level. So how does he fix this?
My suggestion: crosses. Crossing is a method of chance creation that most wide midfielders do not utilise nowadays as a result of chance creation through areas close to the goal being more favoured. Here, Brooks plays a simple first touch cross, and Callum Wilson is able to head the ball into an area in the goal unreachable to Burnley’s Nick Pope. If he is able to utilise first touch crosses in situations such as this one, then Brooks may be able to obtain some more unexpected assists.
To conclude this scout report, whether David Brooks will take on a more defensive role or not for Bournemouth will prove important to understanding how he develops as a player. That is not to say, however, the future won’t still be exciting for the Welshman. With a U-23 winger like Brooks, we may see an electrifying, glorified force of the one he was just a year ago.