Manchester City Women’s dream of winning the FAWSL title has been crushed for the third time in a row. Despite Chelsea being crowned the winners, one should not forget that Man City had a great run this year. At the heart of Man City’s performance has been the right-back, Janine Beckie. In this scout report, we will perform a tactical analysis of Beckie’s role for Manchester City.
For those who wonder if right-back is the actual position of Beckie. The answer is ‘No’. The absence of injured Aoife Mannion forced Nick Cushing to experiment with Beckie as a right-back. The result has been fruitful and the team itself have been performing better ever since.
This tactical analysis scout report will focus on how the striker turned right-back has been the best full-back this season and her tactics in the transition of the game.
Tactical analysis of Janine Beckie’s role in defending
Not many strikers are good when it comes to defending. Especially with an attacking nature, it would be hard to bring in the defending capability. But Beckie has smashed all such beliefs and has proved to be a good defender.
From the above graph between tackles per 90 and tackles won per 90, one could spot Beckie in the middle putting up a competitive performance. With 2.23 tackles per match, Beckie has won 1.65 of them. Proving to be a very good defender among the others, Beckie’s attacking nature often puts her in trouble. Which we will analyse later in our analysis.
Her ability to anticipate passes has been one of the biggest advantages to City this season.
As one can see above, Beckie anticipates the pass even before it’s made and is ready to close her down. One of the abilities of Beckie that has to be noted is her pitch awareness. Her speed has been her plus as it helps her to quickly accelerate and close down the space of the opposition ball possessor. She has a successful pressure percentage of 32.5 which is high when compared to most of the defenders this season.
With the majority of pressure being in the mid-third, it helps Beckie and the team to win possession immediately. By this Beckie holds a key role in one of the City’s tactics of pressing high and winning possession immediately.
Beckie as a defender has not only helped in winning possession but as also helped in maintaining the possession. She has gone against the nature of defenders to make those clearances to play safe. Her calm mind has helped her play those quick short passes to maintain possession instead of clearing the ball to escape pressure.
With just 1.42 clearances per match, Beckie stands second in the entire FAWSL followed by her teammate Demi Stokes. On comparing this metric with Mannion, Beckie seems optimal to this tactical role than her.
Tactical analysis of Janine Beckie’s in the transition to attack
Her attacking nature has profoundly benefited the team’s transition to attack. Beckie having the freedom to play high has given the team an extra option in the transition. She helps the team in outnumbering the opponents in this phase. Her choice of passing and vision in the pitch has benefited the team’s tactics greatly this season.
One can see Beckie excelling in her choice of passes. With a pass completion percentage of 80%, Beckie makes 9.57 progressive passes per much. Even though you can find two players ahead of her, what type of progressive passes she makes is a factor to be noted. Her key passes per 90 stand out with a value of 2.692 with her number of passes into the penalty area being 2.84.
Beckie often opts for the aerial route when she finds her area crowded. As seen in the above picture she changes the direction of play to utilise the huge space behind the full-back. As a striker, her vision was narrowed down, but as a full-back, she’s been able to see the entire pitch. This has helped her in producing those game-changing passes which have been vital for City this season.
Her overlapping has caught the opponents off guard on so many occasions. Standing near the touchline the strikers manage to attract the focus of all defenders while Beckie sneaks in and causes danger.
One can see with all the attention towards the centre and the strikers moving in attracting the defenders, Beckie is waiting to capitalise on the space in the corridor. What she does after she receives the ball while overlapping has made her the most influential player on the pitch.
Tactical Analysis of Janine Beckie in attack
Playing a vital role as a defender, Beckie hasn’t compromised in her attacking nature. In the formation of 3-3-4, Beckie plays has a winger bringing in those dangerous crosses along with her dribbles which have been vital in attacking for Man City.
One can see the majority of the dribbling for Man City this season has been in the area, where Beckie plays. While being able to successfully dribble pass defenders till the very end, the crosses she makes are nightmares to the defenders. Her tactical role in the team is far more beneficial when she plays in the flanks.
Beckie stands first when it comes to number crosses into the penalty area per 90(1.84) among the other defenders. Also, she stands third when it comes to all the players in the FAWSL. Capitalising on her role in the full-back, Beckie has given her best proving her worth to the team.
Being the extra woman in the team’s attack, her wide positioning draws the defence towards her in the attacking third. This results in the spreading of opponents defence line which allows the attackers to dart towards goal.
One can see Beckie standing near the touchline disturbing the compactness of the defence. When the opponent’s play defensive giving very less space for attackers to penetrate, they immediately shift the ball to the flank where Beckie is. This forces the opponent defender to run towards her to close down her space. This causes gaps in the defence line which is capitalised by the attacker. It’s from here Beckie decides whether to cross the ball or dribble inside to cause more danger.
When she beats the full-back and dribbles forward, she forces another defender to rush towards her. This tactic of her imbalances the opponent’s defence line leading to cause holes and mistakes. Even if she isn’t able to complete the crosses, this ability of hers helps her to create more chances.
Her performance clearly as been outstanding this season when it comes to supporting the attackers. Leading by a mile, Beckie’s difference between assists and expected assists has a value of 3.375 while a majority of the defender’s values are negative.
What makes Janine Beckie the most influential player in the team?
Beckie’s attacking nature has helped the team to create chances. Often when the team struggles to escape the opponent’s mid-third defence, she always has a solution to escape from it.
One can see how well she connects the team’s defence and attack. When the player runs out of options, her intelligent run behind the player helps her go unnoticed. With the striker moving in to create more space, shes successfully able to receive a pass in the attacking third. Her first touch and acceleration have been amazing which helps her get past those defenders in ease.
None would deny the fact that she is the one who creates more number of opportunities in the team.
The above graph is a comparison of goal creating actions per 90 and shot-creating actions per 90 of all the players in the league. Irrespective of the position, we can see Beckie has the highest number goal creating actions per 90(1.08). Her number of shot-creating actions(4.23) also is high when compared to many other players.
Beckie’s intelligent overlapping, crossing ability and how she attracts the defenders which create space has been her secret behind her success. Her performance as a right-back has been influencing the team more than as a striker.
One can see that in the above graph, Beckie was less influential in the first match as a right-back. Her second match, the team has failed to capitalise on her performance in assisting a goal. But as of the third match, we can see how she has successfully adapted to the team’s tactics and requirement. We could see how the team’s xG value is being reliant on her xA value. When her xA drops the teams xG also drops. When the ultimate goal at the end of the day is to score goals, Beckie has been the most influential in this aspect of the game.
Janine Beckie’s transition to defending – Her area of concern
In the previous sections of our tactical analysis scout report, we performed an analysis of her various roles in the team and how the team’s performance is influenced by her. In this section, we shall analyse her area of concern.
Playing up so high with an attacking nature, Beckie should remember that she’s responsible to not only exploit but also defend the right flank. This has caused her trouble in her transition to defend.
Given the freedom of playing high, Beckie finds it hard to fall back during counter-attacks. In the above picture, one can see Beckie’s off position has helped Chelsea to utilise the space and cause danger.
Man City have realised this danger and had given the responsibility of covering this hole to Jill Scott. Which is exactly why her transition to defending hasn’t caused much damage to the team. Scott going in for those extensive and acrobatic tackles have prevented the opponents from utilising the defensive errors by Beckie.
One can see Beckie being caught off position and Scott chasing the player. But what is more important is the amount of open space in the right flank which is supposed to be Beckie’s territory to protect.
Despite this error by Beckie causing less harm this season, it’s something that she has to look upon if she continues to play right-back the next season.
Beckie’s change in position has been a catalyst to her performance this season. Being a forward last season, she has been on the starting line up only twice out of the ten matches she played. But this year she has been on the starting line up in all 14 matches that she has played.
With a dream of winning all the titles with Manchester City, she will be one of those players to look out for in the upcoming season. The impact she has on the team’s scoring ability cannot be matched by any other player in the team. Adapting to the team’s tactics and her hard work has helped her shine this season. There’s no doubt that Janine Beckie will turn out to be one of the greatest players the world has ever witnessed.