Lyndon calling – Column
Wednesday, 2nd Sep 2020 16:32 by Theodore Lloyd-Hughes
Theodore Lloyd-Hughes considers the role new striker Lyndon Dykes will play in the QPR team, the big boots he has to fill, and why he might be the right fit for us.
For the first time since 2014/15, QPR will start their season with a manager who has been at the club for more than 12 months. Mark Warburton is only the fifth manager this millennium to host an elusive second pre-season in W12.
The beauty of having a head coach beyond one season is the continuity in developing the team’s playing style around certain players. No longer must we witness a transfer window that functions like the tides; large swathes of shiny new saviours washing up, with gaggles of misfits floating back out again.
This progression of tactics and personnel is exactly what draws me so keenly to Lyndon Dykes. He is built to be Jordan Hugill 2.0. The Gold Coast bruiser has mirroring attributes to West Ham loanee. The symmetry is delightful. One QPR number nine passing the baton to the next, all overseen by the most iconic nine to ever pull on the blue and white hoops. I promise you, it is not just the sleeve of tattoos and the eccentricity in the names of his former club sides.
One Touch Finishing
For good reason Hugill developed a reputation in Shepherds Bush for missing tap ins and scoring worldies. His horrendous misses against Wigan and Boro - which were quickly followed up with two goal of the season nominees - are perhaps the main contributors to the myth.
What the vast majority of all of Hugill’s 13 league goals have in common is that he dispatches them before taking a touch. Whether it was tapping in a deflected cross into an open net at Stoke or lobbing the keeper from 35 yards at the Riverside, he was proficient at scoring with his first touch.
Dykes shares the same gift. Only one of Dykes’ nine league goals, from the 19/20 SPL season, was not scored with his first touch. Hugill is almost identical in the same stat, with just two of his 13 league goals needing an extra touch after receiving the ball. Play it quick, don’t give the player too much time to psyche himself out.
Whilst the two strikers share a very similar tempo to their finishing, Hugill was able to demonstrate more variety with his range. All of the Australian’s goals came inside the box. Furthermore, the average distance from goal was a mere eight yards. At least going off last season's footage, Dykes appears to be a traditional “fox in the box”. If foxes looked like they could deck you for merely talking to their partner on Tallebudgera Creek.
When you read up on Livingston, you hear the same things repeated: hard to beat, rigid, physical, overachieving and unfashionable. “Not the most artistically gifted but they know their strengths and play to them” said Moira Gordon, of The Scotsman. I love that Dykes offers this type of identity. This is the type of football that the Luke Amos' of the world could learn from.
Especially after Nahki Wells departed, Hugill was often cut adrift up top on his own. Tirelessly carrying on, the sole physical presence leading QPR down blind alleys. He struggled to lift the heads of those around him. At his best he could lead the line and connect play, as seen in the swashbuckling comeback win against Stoke. At other times he would feel like a Bermuda Triangle, as seen in almost every match after the restart. Hugill’s application was terrific, but I am excited at the prospect that we have signed an old fashioned bully. Think Matt Smith when receiving his rejection letter from the University of Exeter or Seb Polter with a softer touch. His pressing here, almost Mackie-like, should have led to a goal for Bright against Wimbledon last week.
Last season Livingston lined up in either a 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 or a 3-5-1-1, in these formations Dykes was the only centre forward. He is a player used to having little central attacking support, playing without the ball and making the most of few chances. Hugill scored seven of his 13 goals playing alone up top, and six with a partner alongside him. Dykes has potential to be dangerous as a battering ram. Learning to clear the space for late runners into the box; Ilias Chair in behind him and George Thomas/Paul Smyth streaking out wide.
Assists from wide
Hugill narrowly outperforms Dykes in most stats. For example, goals per min: Hugill scores every 218mins compared to Dykes’ 244mins. Pass accuracy: Hugill has 66% compared to Dykes’ 50%. Where Dykes does outshine Hugill is in assists. His tally of five assists in 25 matches, to Hugill’s one in 39 matches, is an encouraging avenue of growth for the Super Hoops.
Assuming we don’t get a partner as talented as Wells to line up alongside Dykes, how he will help set up goals is going to be essential. He will need to be happy to do the hard yards to create space for the attacking midfielders that have succeeded in Warbs Ball™. Despite his size, it is during quick transitions on the counter that you see Dykes’ impressive eye for a pass with the ball at his feet.
The Rs were blessed with 27 goals from attacking midfielders last year, B.O.S and Ebere Eze accounted for 20 of those. How do we fill that void? 10 goals will be needed from Chair, double his tally from 19/20, and at least five from Thomas to keep up appearances and finish 15th. We’re yet to see if Warbs trusts him, but I foresee that Smyth’s pace and directness should be perfectly suited to playing off Dykes up top.
Be it as a distraction or as the key devastator, Dykes’ arrival is all about how he fits into the team. Hugill had the best goal return of his career last season, could we see the same from Dykes?
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