By Bradley Lovell - 22/05/2020
(Photo via ntfc.co.uk)
There has been a real shift in focus in talent identification and player recruitment in recent years, rather than the focus being on the "nearly" men of the Premier League big guns such as Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool clubs are increasingly looking to recruit from the lower leagues and emerging talent from non-league football. There have been many high-profile examples of English players who have emerged into the game this way, including Jamie Vardy, Chris Smalling and Joe Hart.
Charlie Goode a tall centre-half born in Watford, England has also followed this path through non-league football, playing for Harefield United, Hadley FC, AFC Hayes and Hendon Town before a move to Scunthorpe in July 2015 was his big break into the professional game.
Charlie went on to make 64 league appearances for Scunthorpe along with a string of cup appearances giving a total of 85 first team games. At 6ft 5 his ability in the air, as well as good feet and an impressive passing range meant that he was fast on the radar of Northampton Town. Northampton initially secured a loan-deal for Goode in January 2019 before making the move permanent in July. This season he has been absolutely outstanding for Northampton and has established himself as one of the best defenders in League 2 but also boasts a number of interesting attributes that I believe mean he can play at a much higher level.
In this report I am going to provide a detailed review and assessment of Charlie Goode's footballing attributes. Focusing on his defensive positioning, physical attributes, set piece threat, and influence in the attacking third. As well as suggesting what style and tactic that Goode would fit into best to further advance his career.
Charlie Goode's Role at Northampton:
Northampton primarily play with a 3-4-1-2 formation with Goode playing on the right-side of a back three, this allows him to often be used as the main distributing outlet from the defence to start moving the ball through the thirds. The back three has been consistent for much of the season and their play is focused through Goode who plays the most forward passes (17.42) and the most passes into the final third (8.94) out of the three central defenders demonstrating his importance to kickstarting attacking moves.
Northampton manager Keith Curle's tactical set-up plays largely into the hands of Goode as his ability to spread lofted cross field balls to the opposite flank, with a usually high and wide Nicky Adams pushing high on the left side of the midfield is a large part of how the system at Northampton works.
Goode, as shown on the heatmap above from Wyscout that shows Goode's average positioning throughout the season illustrates how will typically advance and provide close support for Harriman on the right wing delivering whipped out swinging crosses, cutting edge passes as well as driving inside through the centre on counterattacks. Goode's trademark as I touched on before is his lofted cross-cut switch over to Nicky Adams on the left flank who will then use his own creativity to unlock the opposition defence.
Northampton implement a high pressing game which is indicated with a PPDA (Passes allowed Per Defensive Action) of 7.7 which is the third lowest figure in the league and 1.44 below the league average. This proves that Northampton play a high pressure game and only allow on average 7.7 passes before the initiate some sort of defensive action (duel, tackle, interception). To counteract this, the opposition often look to exploit Northampton's high line and get in behind for a goalscoring opportunity. Goode has a brilliant sense of positioning as well as pace over a long distance to be able to cover round the back of the defence and in particular the channels which is one of the key areas he has to defend in this system.
Another important role that Charlie Goode plays is at set pieces. His height and power in both boxes make him a key threat at corners and free kicks wading in with 4 goals and 1 assist in all competitions this season from set pieces. This included 2 headers and 2 impressively finished with his right foot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area. However, this is not where his set-piece prowess ends as he has a secret weapon in the ability to launch a long flat throw into the box and will often pick up this role on the right sided throw ins in and around the opposition area.
Moreover, Goode is team captain at Northampton which is credit to his leadership on and off the pitch at the age of 24. This is such an important quality for Northampton as he drives them in mounting a play-off challenge, motivates and guides those around him.
Individual Comparison on Defensive Output
Below I have illustrated a graph that compares League 2 centre-backs with a minimum of 15 games played. The graph shows Aerials Won % x Tackle Success % whilst also providing a colour scale for total interceptions per game and the circumference of each plot indicating the total number of blocks made per game. As you can see Goode is above the league average for both Aerials Won% and Tackle Success% whilst also boasting a strong amount of interceptions won (1.1) and (1.9) blocks per game making him one of the highest in this pool for blocks and aerial success.
Defensive Cover, Positioning, and Aerial Prowess When analysing Charlie Goode's defensive ability, the first thing that comes to fruition is his ability to cover behind the back three. This is an important attribute in the tactic Northampton play due to the space left behind the defence. Furthermore, for someone of his stature at 6'5 it’s quite a remarkable quality to be mobile enough to snuff out danger covering the line. He often demonstrates remarkable football intelligence and awareness to recognise and track opposing runs into the channel. As you can see below, I have highlighted Goode's positioning, as he remains slightly deeper than the rest of the defence in order to sweep and intelligently stop any players attempting to break the line or infiltrate the channel. This is a common occurrence in the way he plays, always looking to be one step ahead of the attacking team and once the penetrative ball is played, he is on hand to clear up the danger.
This is a desirable skill in the modern game with many of the top teams in each division opting for high pressing football. As such, defenders who are mobile and intelligent enough to protect the obvious weakness in the high press are invaluable.
Next thing to look at is his defensive positioning, especially when Northampton are in a deep block when he cannot rely on covering in behind the line as a defence mechanism. It is incredibly important, and in many ways the bread and butter of a defender's game to be able to anticipate where to be, and when to be there. This will aid in many blocks, interceptions and ultimately in the preventing of the opposing team from creating chances and scoring goals. Not only does Goode position himself well at the front post in open play but his bravery is something which is immediately apparent, it is clear to see he is willing to put his body on the line to do whatever it takes to keep the ball out of the net.
Below is an example of just this. Firstly his awareness to get to the front post; an area of strength when defending, and position himself well for the clearing header, but what is interesting here is the speed of thought in a difficult situation to immediately and almost subconsciously place himself on the line where he predicts the next shot will come... and so it does. His positioning, awareness, and bravery to stop Macclesfield here almost all by himself prevents a goal and keeps the clean sheet for Northampton in a 0-1 away victory.
Thirdly, Goode is a huge defender and his output in the air
was touched on previously. However, when dealing with aerial duel in the defensive phase he is even better. The previous graph I illustrated gave an insight into tackle success and aerial success. But below is a demonstration of aerial duels in the defensive third only. Using this data from Wyscout his overall aerial duel success in the defensive third is 75.9% winning a large majority of the duels in what is considered a very physical league.
It would be unfair to label Charlie's aerial success just down to his height, as a large part of it merges with his ability to position himself well. But also using his strength to be aggressive in the fight against an attacker to claim the ball. A notable area of strength for Goode is the front post, his knowhow for where to be as well as his aggressive nature in attacking dangerous balls into the box makes it difficult for the opposition to attack the ball in the area. As shown below you can see he likes to get tight to his opponent so not to be outjumped and will use his strength and natural height to win the header.
Passing Range and Forward Thinking
As mentioned earlier, Goode has a modern ability as a marauding centre back seen commonly in the Premier League with Maguire at Manchester United and O'Connell/Basham at Sheffield United. When he does step out of defence, he has a variety of talents that include progressive passing and runs, switches of play, counter-attacking abilities, and long throws.
Goode will often move into a wide advanced position to provide and combine with Harriman looking to overload the right side. Often swinging high balls into the back post looking for an aerial threat or a large switch over to Nick Adams on the left flank. Below is an example of how, as the ball shifts from left to right Goode will advance and look to move out of his feet before swinging one of these deliveries in from a deep position.
I am now going to look at exactly how Goode brings the ball out from the back and provides impressive counter attacking threats. Whereas in a high line Goode often looks to cover and sweep up behind the back three. When Northampton are defending deep, he will often be the aggressor and look to step out and intercept under hit passes and loose balls. He then has licence and the skill to break with the team at pace once the ball is turned over.
On the right and below are two illustrations via Wyscout that shows his counter attacking actions and outcomes, as well as his ability when passing the ball forward. You can see his desire to drive through the centre and/or move the ball to his left before advancing down the right to support the attack. Below shows the progressive passes Goode has attempted this season, as well as the accuracy of these passes over a range of distances. Goode shows a willingness and ability to pass over long distances compared to short distance progressive passing. This is complicit with Northampton adopting a direct style of play that features 23rd for pass accuracy and 18th for possession, respectively in League 2. What is interesting is the accuracy in which Goode completes the 40m+ progressive passes at (90%) this is an exceedingly high pass accuracy for such a long-range pass and underlines his technique and eye for a long pass.
The back three in Northampton's system, as well as the experienced Alan McCormack do provide the stability and structure to allow Goode to have such an influence. For any club scouting, it would need to be noted how important the formation is for him to really flourish and protect against any holes left behind when he aggressively moves into a more advanced position.
Below I have compiled a short clip on Goode stepping out from the back line to pinch a loose ball and use his power and pace to burst away from any counter-press. Goode will not be satisfied to just offload the ball sideways but instead will follow his pass by looking to get into a goalscoring opportunity as he does here.
In conclusion, Charlie Goode is a well-rounded centre back who's aerial presence, speed, aggression, intelligence, leadership and long-range passing ability would be well suited in a higher division. Ideally playing in a system with three at the back. His prowess at attacking set-pieces in the box and a secret weapon of a long throw mean that he will provide a threat for opposition defences every game he plays. His defensive positioning is second to none in the league and is speed to cover the high line would be an asset to any high pressing teams. The modern edge to his game of stepping out and bringing the ball forward with his expansive passing and powerful, direct dribbling again demonstrates that he could move into a higher division as the top English leagues evolve into a more creative, foreign influenced style of the game. That said there remains some question marks on how Goode would adapt to playing in a possession-orientated team given he has had limited experience of this. In my opinion I believe the transition would be flawless due to his skill, calmness, and bravery on the ball. One thing is for sure, Charlie Goode has had an incredible season at Northampton and depending on how active the transfer window is during the COVID-19 crisis he will be hot property for Championship and League 1 clubs. Although Northampton will be reluctant for him to move on with the club in a good position just inside the play-off places in the league.
(Data provided by Whoscored and Wyscout)
(Videos via by Wyscout)
(Pitch Graphs provided via Wyscout)