Hoof-ball: Who are the most direct team in the Championship?

Portman Road - Ipswich Town

Who would you expect to be the most direct team in the Championship? Mixed news for followers of Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Derby County and Blackpool.

Long-ball football is often derided, with lumping down field considered to be a direct consequence of a lack of ideas.

Is that always the case?

Can going from back to front quickly actually be a sensible approach?

After all, why play 20 neat one-touch passes through midfield if you can get to where you want to be significantly quicker?

Any side boasting an old fashioned target man within their ranks will want to make the most of his attributes, feeding off knock downs and pegging opponents back.

There is, of course, a counter argument which says football should be played on the deck – with fans across the country demanding that their chosen troops are pleasing on the eye.

In the words of the legendary Brian Clough, “If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he’d have put grass in the sky.”

Who then have become hoof-ball merchants in the Championship and which sides are sticking to the principles of Old Big ‘Ed?

  Total Long BallsTotal LaunchesFwd PassAppearances
Ipswich 1,420 746 2,765 15
Millwall 1,367 598 2,472 15
Birmingham 1,271 514 2,462 15
Reading 1,271 526 2,466 15
Bolton 1,227 502 2,372 15
Rotherham 1,221 555 2,194 15
Forest 1,214 539 2,415 15
Norwich 1,192 337 2,534 15
Wolves 1,184 337 2,735 15
Blackburn 1,163 494 2,383 15
Brentford 1,140 421 2,600 15
Huddersfield 1,133 504 2,212 15
Charlton 1,131 451 2,462 15
Sheff Wed 1,128 507 2,360 15
Middlesbrough 1,126 527 2,433 15
Fulham 1,125 426 2,536 15
Bournemouth 1,110 350 2,708 15
Wigan 1,093 424 2,489 15
Cardiff 1,091 432 2,266 15
Derby 1,088 364 2,676 15
Leeds 1,088 436 2,505 15
Brighton 1,075 291 2,529 15
Watford 1,068 354 2,409 15
Blackpool 1,058 491 2,364 15

It comes as something of a surprise to find that Ipswich Town lead the way when it comes to long balls, launches and forward passes, but then Mick McCarthy is a no-nonsense kind of manager who likes to keep things simple.

Reading have plenty of ball-players within their ranks, but the summer arrival of Glenn Murray and a slow start to the season may have altered their thinking.

At the opposite end of the scale, it may be time for Blackpool to reconsider their approach, with there a time and a place for getting rid, and sitting bottom of the table would appear to tick both boxes.

On a more positive note, supporters of Leeds United, Watford, Brighton & Hove Albion, Wigan Athletic and Derby County will be pleased to see that greater emphasis is being placed on ball retention, with close to 400 fewer long balls being played than Ipswich – a remarkable statistic.

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