When Jack Harrison came to Leeds United on loan from Manchester City last season he came with a fair bit of excitement. He played on the left wing for the most part but is also capable of playing on the right wing where he could cut in on his favoured left foot. We often saw this in the middle of games where he would switch sides with Hernandez to cause confusion. His first season with Leeds was met with a mixed reaction as he left many fans feeling frustrated with his performances as we could all see the talent was there, but, we only got to see it in limited doses. There were however a lot of positives to take from last season and in this player profile we will analyse his performances and see his strengths and why there is still a lot more to come from him.
Harrisons numbers last season were not outstanding, producing only 4 goals and 3 assists. But, there are reasons for this. Let me explain why he didn’t have the best season so we can then pick out the positives and analyse those. Firstly, the Championship was big step up for Harrison. last season was really his first at this level as the season before he only made 4 substitute appearances on loan at Middlesbrough. So nearly all of his senior appearances before Leeds had come in the MLS at New York City. That is a significantly lower level of football and the quality and physicality of the Championship was completely new to him. Resulting in last season being an adjustment period for Harrison. Even in his first year in the MLS he only had four goals, but in his second year there he managed ten goals. Clearly Jack just needed a bit of time to adjust. Even in the latter stages of last season we could see an improvement to his game. Secondly, I believe a lot of skilful wingers are confidence players and for the majority of the year I just don’t think his confidence was there and that showed in his game as he is technically one of the best wingers in terms of skill. That wasn’t reflected in the numbers. For example, he only averaged 0.77 take-ons per game and for a player of his ability in a system where he is attacking a lot and always has the ball, this number is just too low. Showing that he did not have the belief in himself which is what you need to succeed in his position. Thirdly, we relied on Pablo Hernandez so much this season going forward. This meant the majority of our attacks went through the right-hand side. As you can see in the image below which shows which side each Championship team used in Possession most of the time. You can see in attack we played on the right more so than the left. This had a negative impact on Harrison as it meant he didn’t see the ball as much as he probably wanted too. Also he probably knew that the right side was “better” and I can’t imagine that did him any favours either.
Now that is out of the way we can dive into the positives and find out what makes Harrison a promising player with a lot of potential. Figure one shows you how Harrison matched up against his fellow Championship counterparts in a range of different statistics. His end product was his major weak point last season but his influence on the game was still huge. Harrison ranked highly in the majority of categories in passing and creativity. The impressive two stats from that is the fact he ranked in the top 10% for successful passes to the penalty area and deep completions. This showcases his ability to break into the penalty area and penetrate the opposition defence with good efficiency. Harrisons dribbling ability combined with his great passing is what makes him so good at getting himself or a teammate in behind the opponent’s backline.
Figure Two shows where all of Leeds open play goal assists were from. The darker the square the more assists from that location. The key zones for Leeds were either side of the goal in the half-space by the byline, that’s where most assists were from. Harrison was very influential on the left and how dark the square is in the left half-space by the byline shows his ability to get himself or teammates in the key zones for Leeds. This was a key aspect of how we attacked teams.
Jack Harrison managed a small four goals last season. Including an important goal against Wednesday and a great strike vs Millwall. Four goals for an attacking player in our system is not enough. However, Figure One shows Harrison ranked above average for expected goals per shot (Xg/shot). This is a good sign as it shows he was taking the right shots and was getting in the right areas. He also was above average for touches inside the box, This is because of his great dribbling ability meaning he can take many touches in tight areas. Harrison’s minutes per shot was 90 so on average he took one shot a game. If he can have the confidence to take a few more shots this season then we will
Out of possession, Jack Harrison had to do a lot more work this season than previously. This is because of Bielsa and how we press after we lose the ball. In figure one you can see for tackles and interceptions he nearly ranked in the top 10%. This shows a good work ethic and a desire to win the ball back. Harrison was also in the top percentile for fouls. This is because the way Leeds play requires tactical fouling to stop some counter-attacks. So normally ranking highly for fouls would be a downside, but not in this case. Coupled with the fact he only picked up two yellow cards. This shows Harrison is a very clever player who knows when to foul and how many to commit.
This upcoming season I, as well as many others, believe Harrison will have a breakthrough season. Harrison has simply had a year in this league and a year under Bielsa. So he will be more acclimatised to the Championship and will have a better understanding of our style. This means he will develop and improve as most young players do. Secondly, his progress from his first season compared to his second in the MLS shows that he improves in his second year as he went from 4 goals to 10. If he can do that for Leeds that will be great as it is only his end product that needs work. We have already seen proof of this in preseason, Although preseason is not definitive. Harrison collected 3 goals and 3 assists this preseason which is eye-catching and is a real showcase of his development. This will give him the confidence he needs going into the season and I think we will see a new Harrison this year.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRzZct4cDSQWritten This video is a perfect showcase of all Harrisons skills and attributes as well as how unlucky he was to not get a few extra goals and assists. It was created by FocusOnLeeds so go check him out on youtube and twitter. Thanks to @rramesss and @Experimental361 for the graphics used in this profile, go check them out on twitter as well and give them a follow too.
By TheYoungPeacock, Thanks For Reading