Alan Hutton's Negative Play at Everton - Quick Passing Analysis

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Alan Hutton of Aston Villa looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Aston Villa at Goodison Park on September 10, 2011 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)

I want to begin this post by acknowledging that chalkboards do not tell the entire story of a player's performance. Not even close, in fact. They do however allow us to make some pithy observations that may be relevant to an evaluation of a player.

It is with that in mind that I present the following chalkboard, showing all of the passes that Alan Hutton attempted on Saturday against Everton. Successful passes are shown in blue, while those that didn't make their target are shown in red.

(Click for the chalkboard and a few comments after the jump)

by Guardian Chalkboards

Now for a few notes:

  • In total, Hutton attempted 44 passes, and was successful on 28 of those. That 63% rate is neither terrible nor great. The team as a whole connected on ~67% of the pass attempts, and Stephen Warnock was the team leader with ~82%. (Is anyone else as shocked as I am that Warnock was our best passer on the day?)
  • Of the 44 passes that Alan Hutton attempted, 16 of those were backwards. If we count passes that went in an essentially horizontal direction (neither very forward nor very backward), that number rises to 19. This means that 43% of Hutton's passes did not help the team gain forward momentum, the primary goal of passing.
  • The numbers get worse if you look at success rates. On forward passes, Hutton connected on 13 of his 28 attempts (46%). In other words, when Alan Hutton did attempt to move the ball forward (and this includes those passes which, while technically forward, were really just sideways), he failed more than half the time.
  • It is worth at least noting that he doesn't tend to pass backwards with catastrophic results. Only one of his 16 backward passes failed to reach its target. 

What does this tell us about Alan Hutton? I'm not entirely sure. My gut feeling is that it confirms the ideas we had about Hutton being a negative player who won't do much to help Villa's attack. Then again, a number of these failed passes came during perhaps the worst half of Villa football I've ever seen, and without more data, it's hard to say if Hutton's ineptitude led to the bad half, or if it was just a symptom of a larger problem.

Really, this was just the result of me reading about "negative Alan Hutton" in enough match recaps to begin wondering if it was true. Based on this one match, it definitely was. Hutton may not have caused Aston Villa's passing problems on Saturday, but he certainly didn't help them.

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