Does Yates Deserve More Credit From Fans?

It’s no secret that Ryan Yates has been one to cause conflicting views between Nottingham Forest fans over the last few years.

To one half of the Forest faithful, Yates has shown the desire, heart, grit, and determination that every fan wants to see, as well as being a local player. To others, the effort and postcode simply hasn’t been enough for fans that want a player of that position to push Forest further through the leagues.

However, if the last four Forest managers, Martin O’Neill, Sabri Lamouchi, Chris Hughton and now Steve Cooper have chosen to implement Yates into their team, there must be a reason.

Yates has never been one for technical flare, 30-yard screamers or scoring every header he’s connected with, but those frustrating parts of his game weren’t helped by Martin O’Neill or Chris Hughton’s safe, cautious, defensive minded football.

Not only did the Forest midfielder become known for passing sideways or backwards, but you could also quite literally sit in the City Ground and tell your friend exactly where his next pass was going to be, and it was always the safe option.

Though the anti-Yates side of the Forest fans were highlighting the negative attributes of the Nottingham born player, the pro-Yates side were persisting that he had become the new Forest scapegoat, as Ben Osborn was labelled previously.

Whether fans were anti or pro Yates, they will be delighted to see that Yates’ negative elements to his game have seemed to slow down since the arrival of Steve Cooper. The 24-year-old hasn’t suddenly found all the technical skill in the world and started scoring from all angles, but he has become a more positive player in the system that Cooper has instilled into the team.

Whether it’s been Cooper’s predominantly used 3-4-3 formation or the recent emergence of returning to four at the back, Ryan Yates has played every 90 minutes under the new reds boss when he’s been available. This is a real credit to Yates as that other midfield role has been rotated by Jack Colback and James Garner since the new gaffer took over.

Yates now combines the positive elements of his game such as his hunger and determination with a more creative dimension, looking for the forward ball or releasing a player out wide.

The change in formation may also be a contributor to Yates becoming more of an all-rounder in midfield. With the new system lacking a clear No. 10, it leaves further space in front of the two midfielders to work into. This gives Yates and his partner in midfield more opportunity to be creative and look forward to see what can be done further up the field rather than behind.

The change in formation also gives everyone in the team a specific role. With three central defenders covering their area, this gives the full backs, Max Lowe and Djed Spence the license to move forward and cover their sides offensively and defensively. This means that Yates has gone from covering all areas of midfield to ensuring he can concentrate on the right-hand side whilst his midfield partner can cover the left.

Yates will now operate the area that Djed Spence covers when the right back heads to press the ball carrier of the opposition. Additionally, when Spence and Brennan Johnson are working down the right-hand side offensively, Yates stays alongside them through the centre to receive the ball if that option is required.

This is evident in a recent graphic showing that Yates has gone from spending 10.1% of his time on each side of midfield and 13.2% in the centre under Chris Hughton to now 5.8% on the left, 10.2% through the middle and 17.3% on the right as well as 17% more advanced on the right under Steve Cooper, showing just how much his role has become clearer.

Statistics also show that Yates has now gone from averaging 39 passes per 90 minutes last season under Hughton, to now 42.3 per 90 under Cooper. As well as this, the 24-year-olds’ pass success percentage has jumped from 79.4% to 80.8% already.

Yates’ shots per game has decreased slightly from 1.5 last season to 1.2 this season. Though this sounds like a negative statistic, those who know Yates probably recognise this is not his strongest suit as it is, therefore it’s more beneficial for his passing to improve more than shooting. Defensively, the Forest midfielder has successfully completed 2.5 tackles per 90 and 1.6 interceptions, significantly higher than the 1.6 tackles and 1.1 interceptions of last season.

With Yates clearly developing as an all-round midfielder this season after receiving his critics since he first put on the garibaldi red, a poll that asked, “What are your thoughts on Ryan Yates as a Forest player?” received 86 votes from Forest fans.

An overwhelming 80% of voters selected ‘Doesn’t get enough credit’ whilst 12% voters selected ‘Gets too much credit’. The other 8% selected ‘Other (comment)’.

Those that commented had similar things to say; “Under Cooper he has been fantastic. Seems to have upped his game in regards to passing and being progressive with the ball. Has always worked hard but looked like he lacked the tools technically. I’m very happy to have been proven wrong.”

Another fan went on to say, “He has improved a great deal under Cooper, seems to be more actively looking for passes and to receive the ball. On par with his performances under Karanka. Still needs to sharpen up his passing but he’s been one of our better players since Cooper came in.”

Finally, one more fan agreed that Yates still tried his hardest, but the lack of technical ability still isn’t enough. “He’s a tryer. Absolute grafter and would die for 3 points. Technically though he lacks and ultimately we need better if we’re aiming for the Premier League. Not many of our chances come from midfield areas.”

Though most fans believe that Ryan Yates doesn’t get the credit he deserves, there are still questions around his technical ability. Nevertheless, there has been clear improvement in Yates’ game this season and at just the age of 24, there may be more to come and that 12% may decrease little by little.

*Article provided by Callum Castel (Nottingham Forest Correspondent).

*Main image @NFFC Ryan Yates has played every minute of every game under Steve Cooper.

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