The midfielder arrived at Aberdeen with a strong resume for someone so young. There were Premier League appearances for Newcastle United as a teenager plus a goal on his league debut against Manchester United. A goal so good that it was chosen goal of the month.
Alongside his brother Sean Longstaff, Matty was highly rated at St James’ Park and there was even interest from Serie A side Udinese.
Therefore, the excitement was understandable after his arrival.
Its impact was minimal. There were just five appearances for the Dons, three starts and he didn’t finish 90 minutes once. Newcastle recalled him before he was sent on loan to Mansfield Town until the end of the season with the team pushing for promotion under Nigel Clough.
It makes his analysis of his time at Pittodrie and in Scottish football all the more jarring.
‘Long ball game type’
He said City of Mansfield website: “It was a revelation. It was the first time he was out on loan. You get to see a different side [of football].
“A type of long ball game [in Scotland]. But I believe that everything happens for a reason and I’m looking forward to starting here.
“In Scotland it was all more of a fight, there probably isn’t as much quality there as in the Premier League.
I expect a bit of both. [physicality and quality in Sky Bet League Two].
“I have trained with the boys, and they have great quality, but I also expect it to be a bit of a fight. I saw my brother play in League One a couple of years ago and they are always difficult games.
To suggest that Aberdeen play a ‘long game’ is misleading.
Only Celtic and Rangers pass the ball more often and accurately than Stephen Glass’s team, while they have the third highest average possession percentage at 59.1 per cent.
A nightmare for Dons fans is the amount of possession but the lack of penetration.
Comparison between Mansfield and Aberdeen
In terms of long balls, according to Wyscout, Aberdeen are fifth at 46.51 per 90 minutes.
The average number of long balls per 90 minutes in the Scottish Premiership is 46.04. In England League Two it is 55.03.
Mansfield to his credit is on the lower scale but at 50.17 for 90 minutes.
Comparing their passing accuracy, success rate and average possession share, it is much lower than Aberdeen.
Mansfield makes 226.4 accurate passes per game with a 64 percent success rate and has a possession share of less than 50 percent.
For Aberdeen, that’s 368.2 accurate passes per game, a 78.3 per cent success rate and a 59.1 per cent possession share.
Longstaff has been guilty of falling into the typical stereotypes of Scottish football in England. There is direct football, it is competitive and you have to be able to manage a battle and fight, certainly much more than the passive football of Premier League 2 in the south.
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