Neil Redfearn came out this week and said that Sam Byram’s participation at first team level “hadn’t been handled as well as it could have been” and that  “It’s been a stop-start season for him so far,” regarding his opportunities this term. Redfearn sees Byram as a protoypical attacking fullback, as comfortable defending his own box as attacking the opposition’s box.

Much to the chagrin of some armchair managers on the greatest management forum of all, Facebook, Byram has been favoured over this season’s purchase of Gaetano Berardi. some had even written him off as ‘injury prone’ and ‘gave us one good season’. It is obvious that Neil Redfearn is an admirer of Byram’s qualities and what he can bring to a game but, the question remains, what did he bring to the game on Saturday against Blackpool at Elland Road?

Byram’s opening 45 minutes

Byram 0-45

In the opening 45 minutes Byram was reveling in his more attack-orientated role. He had 40 pass attempts with 38 of these being successful in reaching their intended target; overall this gave him 95% accuracy. As expected with a right back, Sam Byram was extremely active down the right flank and this activity is shown on the Squawka ‘heat map’ which plots the areas where the player is most active, the colours increasing with the intensity or frequency of activity in that area.


Byram’s closing 45 minutes

Byram 45 - 90

What can be observed is that Byram’s productivity dropped somewhat in the second half where he only made 21 pass attempts with 16 (74%) successfully reaching their intended targets leaving him with an overall passing accuracy of 88%. The ‘heat map’ shows that whilst he wasn’t as active, he was still active in both the Leeds and Blackpool middle third areas of the field (at either side of the halfway line).

Final thoughts

Byram had a good game, that can’t be doubted. He was extremely busy and fulfilled Neil Redfearn’s faith in him being equally comfortable defending his own box as attacking the opposition area and asking questions of opposition players. Byram’s 61 passing attempts was the highest on the team, as was his accuracy at 88%. I do write about Byram’s game yesterday elsewhere, but these ‘headline’ figures here do represent an encouraging return from this match and, it is surely the hope, that this is a return to the kind of form that Sam Byram showed in keeping Real Madrid Galactico Gareth Bale in his back pocket in the 2013 FA Cup tie that which ended in a 2-1 victory for Leeds.