When the news broke that John Bostock was indeed training with the club, as the rumour mill had suggested, very few Notts fans will have seriously believed the vastly experienced midfielder would sign for the Magpies. So when it was announced on a cold Wednesday morning that Bostock had agreed an 18 month deal with the club, Magpies fans must have felt Christmas had come early.
The main reason Notts fans didn’t think he would sign is the belief that he is a level above where we currently play; and they would be right. That just underlines what a coup this signing is. Bostock is a midfielder with a wealth of experience, plying his trade as high as the Championship in this country, and the top divisions of Belgium, France, Turkey and the USA. He most recently played at League One level, last season, so the evidence suggests he may well be a cut above.
In terms of passing Bostock was superb. He played in a side that ranked 17th for passes, yet he was in the top 15 for the whole league, playing 52.11 passes. He was also the 6th most accurate outfield passer in the league, another really impressive feat. Again, he did this whilst playing in a side that were relegated, and a side that didn’t play a brand remotely similar to ours. You can only imagine the statistics he would put up in our side. By contrast, Matty Palmer played 61.16 passes per 90, with an accuracy slightly lower at 88.68%. Palmer did this in a side who topped the passing charts, so his stats are impressive yet understandable. Bostock’s are simply outstanding. His accuracy would rank him 6th in the National League this season; 4 of the 5 above him are Notts players, so imagine how well Bostock would do in this side.
Defensively Bostock is no slouch either. He won 66.67% of his defensive duels, better than Palmer’s 60% from this season. He also competed 5.86 interceptions to Palmer’s 2.69, and at 6ft2 he’s fairly strong in the air. He won 48% of his aerial battles, again higher than Palmer’s 43.1%, so the stats show Bostock is a well rounded midfielder . He seems more than capable of performing in the black and white.
The above percentile rankings show how Bostock compares to other central midfielders in League One for the 2021/22 season based on players with 1000 minutes or more. All data is via Wyscout.
It's clear to see his strengths are in using his physique to break down opposition attacks in central areas and recovering lost possession before using his passing ability to help put his team back on the front foot. This is highlighted by data that sees him rank highly in possession adjusted interceptions (PAdj).
Where will Bostock fit into the Notts side? Well, as the stats suggest, Bostock is a very similar player to Palmer, so the dream midfield pairing may need some tweaking. If Bostock is to play alongside Palmer it would allow the latter to venture forward into a more advanced role. Bostock is very much a deep lying midfielder, one who doesn’t venture too far forward. This would provide good balance in the midfield. He may also be used in rotation with Palmer, rather than alongside him. Whilst together they would be a ridiculously good pairing, one that wouldn’t look amiss in League One, the sheer amount of games will necessitate rotation. In this regard Notts have done something which would have seemed impossible at the start of the season; found a like for like replacement for Matty Palmer.
Another aspect Bostock improves Notts massively in is set piece delivery. Following Cal Roberts’ departure in the summer the Magpies really lacked a recognised set piece taker and whilst Tom Weal and the team have been innovative with the set piece routines, there is no hiding from the fact that the actual delivery has been poor at times.
We’ve often failed to beat the first man, so it’s no coincidence that Notts have failed to score directly from a corner, despite accumulating the 2nd most in the league. With Bostock’s arrival this issue should be addressed. A cultured left foot, Bostock has consistently produced high quality set piece delivery throughout his career, especially from the right side where his in swinging corners often wreak havoc. Bostock should get plenty of assists this way, and his height will also be useful when defending set pieces too.
We’ve looked at his on the pitch impact, but it’s also important to consider his impact off of it as well. Firstly, Bostock has been training with the club for some time now. He’s used to the set up, but it also speaks volumes about the type of player, person and trainer he is.
Luke Williams and the club wouldn’t have signed Bostock had he not been a good fit. They’ve seen him train, and are clearly impressed. This is a positive sign.
As we’ve alluded to, Bostock has a wealth of experience, not only in England but all over Europe. This will be invaluable to what is a fairly young squad. Not only will they be able to draw on this experience, but the amount Bostock will be able to teach the younger players should be worth the move itself. He will be able to pass on his knowledge, aiding player’s development, meaning he is likely to have a profound effect both on and off the pitch. He will also be a positive influence in the dressing room; he appears to be a consummate professional, a good addition to an already impressive group.
The main concern amongst fans is that this may turn out to be another Harry Arter situation. However, whilst we understand the concerns, we at Notts Stats don’t view the signing in this way.
Firstly, the board will have undertaken their due diligence; if they didn’t believe Bostock would be a reliable signing they wouldn't have taken the plunge. Additionally, there are some key differences between Arter and Bostock.
There is the age consideration, as Arter is 2 years older, but most crucially is the recent playing experience. Arter had managed just 4 games before signing for Notts, and whilst Bostock has been without a club since the summer, he not only has been training regularly with the club over the last few weeks, but he has also played far more games over the last few seasons too.
Bostock played 21 league games last season, despite injuries, which is more than Arter managed across 2 loan spells combined. There is also a clear difference in ambition between the 2. Whilst it is understandable Arter decided to see out his contract at Forest, due to the big wages he is on, Bostock saw a similar situation in the summer, albeit on lower wages. He was offered an extension by Doncaster, one which he turned down, looking for a new challenge. Bostock hasn’t been short of suitors either, biding his time for the right opportunity to come along. Essentially this shouldn’t be a repeat of Arter.
In conclusion, and having taken stock, (see what we did there), to be able to recruit a player of Bostock's pedigree at our level is a testament both to the club itself and Luke Williams, who's own stock continues to rise amongst the Notts faithful and within the game itself.
If you're reading this John, welcome to Meadow Lane, we look forward to seeing a new and successful chapter in your career.
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