Dunfermline’s 2019/20 campaign was a success. The side showed that they’re capable of beating anyone on their day. As a result, they’ve won 10, drawn seven, lost 11 and using the points per game model, would’ve finished on 48 points. That’s an increase of seven points from last season.
Moreover, the Pars can be optimistic about the emergence of young Lewis McCann, 18, having netted a goal for the Northern Ireland u19s in a 1-1 draw. McCann continued to impress at club level, appearing 14 times throughout the campaign, starting six and averaging 44 minutes per appearance.
Despite doing everything but score, this season has been McCann’s breakthrough into senior football. This scout report will better inform the reader of McCann’s strengths and weaknesses. It will provide and make use of his statistics from this season. By doing so, we can develop an objective foundation that will allow for an accurate tactical analysis and evaluation of his ability.
The Edinburgh born number 27 has featured primarily as a centre-forward for Dunfermline. However, due to his versatility, and the tactics employed by the manager, Stevie Crawford, McCann has played as an attacking midfielder and left-winger.
Let’s examine his positioning at set-pieces.
Above, at defensive corners, McCann marks the front post. Therefore, his job requires him to be strong in the air and to be in a position to clear any imminent danger.
At attacking corners, McCann uses his strength and height to block the goalkeeper or mark a run toward the back post.
The picture above shows McCann’s role during defensive free kicks. He stands in the wall. As the ball is played, he makes a forward run to provide a counter-attacking option. His height, strength and dribbling have moulded him into a target man for the Pars.
At attacking free kicks, McCann attempts to win the aerial duel and score from a cross.
When he is used as a winger or centre-forward and the Pars need a goal, he will not come back and defend. Instead, McCann applies pressure on the opposition’s backline, forcing them to play with urgency. Furthermore, when Dunfermline recover the ball, McCann’s high positioning provides an option to play directly forward.
Alternatively, when the Pars have the lead and McCann is on the left, he will drop deep and defend against the opposition’s right-back.
This season, McCann finished in 9th position in the championship for counter-pressing recoveries, averaging 3.44 per 90. Thus, providing an insight into McCann’s determination the win the ball back in the defensive transition. Moreover, he ranks 23rd in recoveries in the final third with an average of 1.5 per 90. Considering his age and games played, it’s fair to say that he is a player determined to win the ball back for his team.
Above, McCann has stayed forward. He tracked his opponent, forcing the opposing winger to cross. Once Dunfermline recovers the cross, McCann offers an opportunity to counter-attack.
The picture above shows McCann dropping deep to defend. His role is to press the opposing full-back, denying them space to dribble into and time to play a pass. As a result, McCann’s tenuousness and physicality have proven tough to beat. He dispossesses former MLS youth prospect, Dario Zanatta, then carries the ball 60 yards before testing the goalkeeper.
McCann presses the opposition when they attempt to play out from the back. Above, McCann is quick to get back behind the ball. From this position, he can apply pressure to former EFL player, Dan Pybus, in possession. As a result, the carrier is forced to act quickly. The Duns are quick to react, winning the ball back on several occasions thanks to McCann’s relentless defensive work rate.
McCann looks set to become an essential asset in the build-up phrase for Dunfermline. He positions himself as high as the opposing backline allows. From here he will either drop deep, using his strength to shield the ball and lay the ball off for his midfielders to establish possession in the middle third. Or, the Pars will play a lofted ball into him, which results in McCann again using his physical attributes to dominate the duel and lay the ball off.
McCann’s 19th position in average received passes per 90, 16.17, supports the claim that he is a needed component in Dunfermline’s build-up phase. Averaging 11.08 offensive duels per 90, McCann must increase his current success rate of 33.78% to establish, one, secure possession and two, a regular starting position.
Above, McCann had dropped deep and played in the right-back. As a result, the Dunfermline midfield continues their movement and making a move toward the box. Aware of their movement, McCann covers the midfielder’s space. This example highlights his understanding to act as a pivot, providing opportunities to bounce play off of as well as an understanding of spatial awareness, occupying the spaces left by teammates.
Another string to McCann’s bow in the build-up phase is his ability to win aerial duels. As a result, Dunfermline play directly up to him. From here, the no. 27 will head the ball down for his midfield to pick up and establish possession.
Progressing through the thirds
When asked to break lines and progress play, McCann does this by dropping deep or flicking the ball forward into space with his head. His height of 1.88m, combined with his strength, support his aerial ability for flick-ons. When he drops deep, his quick tempo, ball control and attacking mindset aid his ability to firstly, spot and then secondly, perform the progressive pass or dribble into space.
His ability to progress play for Dunfermline was his highlight of last season. McCann finished 18th with average progressive runs, 1.05 per 90, with an average distance of 35.88m. On top of that, he finished 20th with average progress passes, 3.59 per 90, with an impressive average progression of 94.5m.
Above, McCann drops into a pocket that allows him to get turned and play forward. The example show’s his clever movement inward to create an angle to play a pass between the right-back, Shaun Rooney and former Celtic player, Lewis Toshney.
In the picture above, McCann is surrounded by opposing players. His youthful pace, upper body strength and tricky footwork create problems for the opposition. As a result, McCann continues this run for another 10 yards before getting a shot off on goal.
It’s encouraging to notice flashes of McCann’s enthusiasm to break lines and create opportunities for his teammates. However, he completed just 69.89% of his passes. Ok, so yes if you continually try to break lines with your passes, the chance of completion will be less than the simple pass sideways. Therefore, to attain a starting position, McCann needs to differentiate when to pull the trigger or when to maintain possession.
The final third
This season the Northern Irish prospect hasn’t netted any with a goal expectancy of 1.09 and assisted 1 with an assist expectancy of 0.67. McCann will consider two locations in the final third. If he’s being used as a left-winger, he attacks the goal line, often cutting inside and eliminating the full-back with his dribbling ability. From here, McCann’s shown he can cross or pass into a dangerous area of the box or rifle a shot off at goal. When McCann plays as a centre-forward, he will arrive into the box late. Doing so gives him a good chance of getting on the end of crosses.
This season, McCann’s eagerness to eliminate defenders in the box with skill has caught the eye of fans and players. He averages 4.34 dribbling per 90 with a success rate of 44.83%. It’s important to remind the reader of his age. Going forward, his success rate will be determined by his work ethic. Given his competitive personality with his brother and desire to play international football, McCann will continue to improve his success rate as he matures. Furthermore, he wants to score goals, averaging 2.4 shots per 90.
When Dunfermline attack, they will often form the triangular shape shown above. The two strikers will penetrate the box, providing option ‘A’ for their winger. McCann will check his run, at times, penetrating later, to allow him to connect with a cross on the run. Or, as shown above, he will wait on the edge providing an alternative option for the winger. As a result, he creates a problem for the opposing centre-backs, as they must decide to mark him or leave him, if it’s the latter, McCann can receive a pass with time to get a shot off.
At 18, McCann’s strength already enables him to successfully shield the ball in the opponent’s box. Above, note how the Dunfermline players can then begin to make leads for McCann. This example highlights the exciting prospects ability to fulfil the role of a target man.
Additionally, McCann has shown glimpses of being technically gifted. Above, McCann has used his fancy footwork once again to beat two players and create a good goal-scoring opportunity for himself.
An area McCann should address is his crossing ability. He attempts 2.4 crosses per 90 succeeding 6.25% of them. As a winger, he must come up with ways of increasing the completion rate, be it cutting back onto his preferred foot or working on his weak foot crossing.
McCann has pushed on this season, earning 14 appearances and proving that he is an exciting prospect. He’s contributed to both attacking and defensive phases of play, as shown in this analysis.
At 18, he’s played youth international football, scoring against Germany against players who could be future Bayern Munich quality players, and looks set to appear in more Championship games next season. As long as McCann continues to work hard and learn, it won’t be long until the Premiership sides come calling. But for now, he is one of the few remaining at Dunfermline. And as of writing, he will get another opportunity to prove his worth in the Championship.
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