Makoun Review: What to Make of Up and Down Start

February 17, 2011 by
Filed under: Player Reviews 

Jean Makoun joined the club after a long and drawn out transfer saga with old club Lyon. A deal was eventually agreed to see the 27-year-old Cameroon international to Villa Park for a reported up front fee of £5m with add-ons of around £2.5m touted to boot. Houllier was clearly very keen to sign the midfielder after being knocked back on a number of occasions and finally got his man prior to the Man City clash, though Makoun didn’t get international clearance and made his debut against Wigan. This game was one which was severely dented from a personal stand-point with regards to the playmaker when he was booked early on. Until that point he had used the ball well, if unspectacularly, but his hassling style saw him pick up a yellow for a pretty innocuous challenge and effectively stunted his progress in the game in my opinion, before his withdrawn around an hour in. After acclimatizing to the English game pretty quickly, Makoun was imperious next time out in my opinion against United, with his stats showing him out-pass his team-mates and opponents alike. He backed this up with a man of the match award against Fulham and that game got me excited about the quality which Villa had obtained despite fading slightly towards the end. Unfortunately, just as he was getting a good run of early form, Makoun had a nightmare moment last time out against Blackpool, making a rash challenge and rightly getting a straight red card. So where does that leave us in knowing what we can expect from the industrious, pass-master? I though I’d have a little look at his stats to see just how well he has done.

As in my previous new signing reviews it’s basics first. In four games for the club he has finished just two having been subbed on his debut against Wigan and being sent off against Blackpool last weekend, racking up a total of  307 minutes. The red card is accompanied by two yellows, meaning the only game which he has not been disciplined was against Man Utd, in my opinion his best appearance in a Villa shirt, you’ll see why later.

Thus far Villa fans have seen very little in terms of an attacking presence from the Cameroonian, although he has played in an advanced role for previous clubs and country in the past. In fact, in 4 turn outs, Makoun has attempted just one shot and that was worth forgetting. The 27-year-old tried a long range drive against Fulham which went way, way wide. I would hope that when he returns from a three match suspension, he would be given a little more freedom if he plays with either Petrov or Reo-Coker, both massively defensive minded, or possibly alongside the more advanced threats from youngsters Delph and Bannan. One thing that Villa and indeed Makoun is lacking in the centre of midfield is height. Captain Petrov is the tallest of the 5 aforementioned players, at 5’11” which could have been the reason Houllier looked to bring in Michael Bradley who may get his chance in Makoun’s absence with the American standing at 6’2″.

A couple of trivial bits now. Makoun has made 7 interceptions in his four games, one of which should have seen Downing score last time out. Slightly less trivial and indeed more interesting is the fouls for/against ratio which the midfielder currently has. In 14 involvements in free-kick decisions, Makoun has won just 4, giving away 10, three of which have been punished by two yellow cards and one red, at a rate of 28.6%. His early disciplinary record, backed by these stats, would suggest that the middle-man has a way to go in his tackling and the stats related to tackling would add further substance to this theory.

For a primarily defensive playmaker, Makoun’s tackling is out of sorts thus far. In 30 challenge contests, Makoun has lost out on 21 occasions at a success rate of just 30%, not good. Compare this to the likes of Reo-Coker who partnered Makoun against Blackpool making 15 tackles and succeeding on ten of those occasions, you could suggest the newcomer is still slightly off the pace. It is worth pointing out that Makoun did make a fantastic tackle against Blackpool to effectively set-up Villa’s opener when the ball broke to Reo-Coker, but the Cameroon-man is very slight and could do with bulking up in my opinion, in order to cope of the superior strength in the Premier League.

Finally we come to Makoun’s passing stats, an attribute which has seen him pick up the most praise since his move to Villa Park. I have been one of those to be highly impressed by the midfielder, who is always available for the ball, especially in deep positions, and often plays the simple but effective pass to keep the ball rolling for his side. Makoun is also superior to his counterparts in my opinion at looking for the more offensive pass, with the likes of Petrov consistently playing with their back to the opposition goal, deep in the Villa half.

Makoun has made 240 in his 4 appearances thus far, averaging 60 a game, but his most impressive passing displays were certainly in the games against Fulham and, in particular, United. His success rate over the four games is impressive at exactly 80% thus far, but even more so in the games against Fulham, making 61/73 passes (83.6%), and Man Utd, making an outstanding 94 passes, with 85 on target (90.4%).

How have you rated his performances so far? Are the games against Fulham and United real signs of quality from the new signing or irrelevant statistics and do you believe he is warranting his price tag? Should he be in the starting line-up week in-week out and if so, who with?


6 Comments on Makoun Review: What to Make of Up and Down Start

  1. Villa Missionary on Thu, 17th Feb 2011 23:41
  2. If he cant tackle, 2 yellows and a red, then he is not up to the position he was bought to fill! If you want someone who will stay on the field and make the incisive passes look no further than Bannan, his passing stats are well up there..

    Strange when we almost beat Utd, and we should have done so, the kids in midfield tackled and created, this was against the champions elect.

  3. chowden on Fri, 18th Feb 2011 8:39
  4. I thought Houllier in his interview revealed that the fee was actually 5m Euros?

  5. steffan on Fri, 18th Feb 2011 9:53
  6. “villa missionary”- Makoun was bought to add steel to the midfield, he makes quality passes moves in the middle wilst able to attack at goal with composure, able to meet 90% of his passes during a game, xavi the best CM made 109 passes during the arsneal game and completed only 86% of his passes, not alot of difference in passes attempted. Makoun offers alot for villa, he has been subed at lyon for almost 6 months so im not suprised to see his tackles are “crunching” but at least he attempts to make a tackle, same for reo. petrov is past it, struggling to meet the pace of the current premiership and lacks composure reaching the end of the match, i do like petrov, but he is just not fit for the prem not more. Bannan should have his chance soon but is still to niave with a little more work to his game, he will become a quality player. Makoun has got more to show dont shoot him down to early.

  7. Benjamin on Fri, 18th Feb 2011 14:44
  8. Makoun has been extremely impressive so far, although I have noticed a tendency for his confidence to get shaken after he gets a yellow. The most impressive part of his passing is the sheer number of first touch passes that he makes with superb accuracy. In the modern game defence is more about retaining possesion and making interceptions more than putting in tackles.

    The key to getting the most out of makoun will be to find a partner for him that offers similar passing ability, with a good all round game someone like milner (or hopefully delph/ bradley) who can track back, offer strength/ prescence and can also offer another attacking outlet. Makoun is not a defensive midfielder, he is a deep lying playmaker who has been pivotal in constructing many of our most impressive attacks since his arrival.

  9. TCIDUKE on Fri, 18th Feb 2011 15:35
  10. i totally agree with steffan. His passing against man u. and fulham was electric and gave us a much more fluid game than we have had all season. If he pairs with reo after the suspension for the rest of the season, i think his tackling will come along. He is well worth the 5m. I am more worried about Bradley. Did he look painfully slow to anyone else when he came on against Blackpool?

  11. Villa Missionary on Fri, 18th Feb 2011 17:54
  12. I’m not shooting him down, just pointing out that if he is to bring steel to the midfield he needs to STAY on the pitch. It is no good to us if he is suspended like now, and certainly in his first match, as soon as he was booked his performance was very mediocre.

    I actually think he is a very good player that we need ON the pitch, However I do believe if you take the steel out of his play his passing ability is not at the same level as Wee Barry. If he can get the tackling side of his game up to the level as the rest of his play, I would love for them both to play in midfield.

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