Contrasting stats with 10 league games ahead give a particular reading, so we’ve scoured Town’s history in Ligue 1 – in its current form – to compare the numbers at this stage of the campaign. Shrewsbury’s current tally of 31 goals in the third tier is the lowest at this 36-game stage of any Town team at this level in the last decade – even compared to the relegated side of 2014.
However, the downside sees Cotterill’s men scoring less than a goal a game, with just 35 against in 36 outings. It is, by some measure, the club’s best effort outside of 2017/18, where Town were still struggling against the top two at this stage of the season.
The stats tell the story of a Shrewsbury team built on solid foundations and put together in organized and well-drilled form. Tackling Town’s leaky rear guard was a primary focus for the manager when he took charge 15 months ago.
Town’s defensive record of third behind top two Rotherham and Wigan is not a feat associated with a bottom team. It becomes even more surprising given that a Premier League clean sheet only arrived on October 16. Shrewsbury only drew 0-0 this season on December 29 – now their tally of six ties is the highest in the top four tiers.
With reasonably few players out of contract this summer and a complete overhaul unnecessary, it suggests a squad assembled on a solid foundation. One of Cotterill’s key mantras is “if you can’t win, then don’t lose”. This is drilled into all of his players and teams. However, why a team with such an impressive defensive record ends up in the bottom half is not mystifying.
The objectives were not easy to achieve and, beyond Daniel Udoh, Ryan Bowman and Luke Leahy, they were not sufficiently shared. Only the bottom three have scored less – and not by much.
The manager says the underlying stats suggest his side should be better off. Following the Cambridge onslaught, Town’s position in the table for xG (expected goals, of which the chances for and against are measured, according to the website footballxg.com/) is 12th, five places higher. Their xG for is 40.5, plus nine more goals. The xGA (against) is 42.8, almost eight more goals conceded.
A telling number is that Town’s net xG taken into account is calculated to take Cotterill’s side up 14 points, the biggest leap – or fall – in the division. That would have them 12th.
Despite – and as a result – numbers, the city must decide how to act on them this summer. The “easy” answer lies in the transfer market. Recruitment is still essential, but comes at a cost.
What will be crucial is whether Cotterill’s side can continue to create chances while managing to find the net more consistently next season.
Shrewsbury statistics over the last ten years
2012/13 – GF: 40 GM: 46
Graham Turner followed a memorable promotion with a very respectable finish as Town recovered well from a difficult start. in the countryside
2013/14 – GF: 34 GM: 47
Town’s brief stay in the third level has come to an end. Turner resigned in January and the club fell under Mike Jackson with just two wins from their last 14 games.
2015/16 – GF: 44 GA: 54
Micky Mellon’s men have survived relegation by one place and four points after just one win in their last 11 games.
2016/17 – GF: 39 GA: 50
Final ranking: 18th. Paul Hurst took over from Mellon in October and led the team to safety with one game to spare.
2017/18 – GF: 49 GA: 27
Final ranking: 3rd. Very well the anomalies campaign. Hurst’s first full season in charge led to Wembley’s final double – but a real disappointment.
2018/19 – GF: 39 GA: 47
Final ranking: 18th. Sam Ricketts’ Town earned a second 18th-place finish in three seasons in his first season. Security was ensured in the penultimate game.
2019/20 – GF: 31 GA: 42
Final position: 16th (15th in points per game). Town moved up a place on average in points – and 15th is the second best result since 1990.
Only 34 games have been completed due to the pandemic, so these numbers are after 34 games, instead of 36.
2020/21 – GF: 40 GM: 42
Final ranking: 17th. Steve Cotterill replaced Ricketts in November and unfortunately fell ill with Covid-19. The city, however, easily provided security when the manager stepped in from the hospital.
2021/22 – GF: 31 GA: 35
Current position: 17th. City aspire to climb well above 17th place in these last 10 matches.
To finish above 15th place would be a good feat and stand out in the record books.