THE BREAKDOWN: What Pirates’ Midfield Could Look Like
Analysing Orlando Pirates' midfield
With the addition of Thamsanqa Sangweni to Orlando Pirates’ midfield, we take a look at how the team could take shape in the middle of the park in the 2017/18 season.
Click through the images above to see a detailed statistical comparison between Thamsanqa Sangweni, Abbubaker Mobara, Gladwin Shitolo, Issa Sarr, Mpho Makola and Oupa Manyisa.
In the central midfield positions for Pirates’ 2016/17 Absa Premiership campaign, the club interchanged between Oupa Manyisa, Mpho Makola, Issa Sarr and Abubaker Mobara in the various games throughout the season, while Gladwin Shitolo was fielded sporadically. Now, with the club adding Thamsanqa Sangweni to their books, Kjell Jonevret will be looking to find a tried and tested partnership that can create consistency in the central roles.
A lot of what is expected to transpire will depend on Kjell Jonevret’s tactical setup, where he could play three central midfielders or a defensive pivot with an attacking midfielder or various other combinations. But, for now, it would be wise to address which midfielders are suited to defensive and/or creative roles.
For a defensive midfield options, Sangweni appears to be the best of the group statistically, having made more tackles than the rest of the players listed. And he won the second highest number of duels, as only he and Sarr won more than 50% of their duels. He also attempted a high number of passes per 90 minutes, with all of the midfielders achieving pass success rates above 80%. However, Sangweni was also more successful with long balls, as his 66% long passing accuracy ranked third in the PSL, within the parameters of a minimum of 50 long passes.
However, the former Chippa United man was unable to measure up to Manyisa or Makola, who both made four assists and achieved more shot assists per 90. Makola also attempted the most final third passes out of all of the players and attempted the most shots as well.
Sangweni therefore appears to be Pirates’ best option for a holding midfield role, while Makola is statistically Kjell Jonevret’s best option in a creative, attacking role.
Yet, as we’ve already noted, it is Jonevret’s tactics that will dictate how his midfield will take shape.
How would you like to see Pirates line-up in midfield next season?