The numbers behind Ryan Porteous' continued development into Hibs' 2021/22 season
For Ryan Porteous, the 2020/21 season was about playing regularly. The highly-promising defender had suffered knee injuries which had prematurely ended the previous two campaigns and, needing games in order to enhance his development, the main goal was to stay fit and remain in the team.
So on a personal level, last season was a great success. He played 42 times as Hibs finished in third for the first time since 2005, while they reached the latter stages of both cup competitions – which is an achievement, even if they ended in frustration and disappointment.
Goals change and evolve, and this season is no different. It’s not just merely about staying fit and in the side. Porteous is now one of the first names on the Hibs team-sheet, so it’s about finding the right sort of consistency to take his play, and ultimately his career, to the next level.
We’re only through two months into the campaign, but there’s enough evidence to suggest the Scotland under-21 international is still trending in the right direction. The advanced statistics paint a picture of a stopper continuing to mature and develop.
Most striking has been his improvement in the air. For someone with the height and physicality, Porteous wasn’t as aerially dominant as he should’ve been prior to this term, with a career success rate at just 61 per cent. Yet so far in 2021/22 he’s beaten opponents 70.5 per cent of the time.
He’s learning how to use his body and stature to give himself additional advantages over forwards, while he’s also looking to be more selective, challenging 5.13 times per 90 minutes, which is down from 6.42 in the previous campaign.
This is also evident in his desire to win loose balls. Though his attempts have dropped from 4.73 to 4.2 per game, his success rate has jumped from 61.5 to 66.7 per cent.
It's not a case of reticence, though. He’s merely reading the game better. His defensive duels and slide tackles have both taken an increase, but then so have their success. P
Porteous is known for being full-bloodied, some would even say reckless, in his tackling. To increase his tackling but avoid criticism shows he’s learning to stop the danger without putting himself, his opponent or his team’s chances at risk.
His maturity can even be found in his attacking numbers. His one-on-one dribbles have fell from 1.07 attempts per game to 0.7, while he’s attempting almost half as many progressive runs, as he takes fewer chances on the ball. But he’s still improving as an attacking player with increases in shots on target, shot assists, touches in the box and forward passes completed per game. The latter is arguably the most impressive, with his attempts increasing by over three per match and his accuracy leaping five percentage points.
He will always have his detractors so long as he continues to make errors with the regularity in which he did last term. There have been a couple blips so far this term, but there have also been many dominant showings. If he can keep these mistakes to a minimum, the rest of his game will enable him to shine at the highest level some day.