Luckily for Robin, he’s no small chap as well, 1.98 meters of Swedish decency and style like the most expensive IKEA closet you can find out there. In fact, Olsen’s even taller than Alisson and I guess his shoe size is bigger as well.
If I had to describe Olsen this season, there was one sentence written in the comments at Chiesa a while ago that summed it up perfectly. I forgot who wrote it so excuse me for the plagiarism but let me buy you a beer the next time you are in Belgium. It went something like this:
“Olsen is the keeper we fans dreamed of before we met Alisson”. And it’s so right. Olsen might not be on the same level as the Brazilian (very few keepers in the world are to be honest), but he’s so, well, damn decent in doing his job. He’s just a lot less ‘sexier’ than Alisson.
Remember, not so long ago we fans had to watch Goicoechea, Stekelenburg and Curci week in, week out. Julio Sergio only lasted like one season and his save in the derby was the only real memorable action I remember anyway. Doni and Schez were decent keepers yes, but also prone to the occasional brainfart. Lobont could barely walk without crutches while De Sanctis had a nice resurgence of his career but he was on the wrong side of 30 when he arrived. He was always a short-term solution.
In all these cases the tifosi dreamed of more. More like in Buffon, Casillas or Neuer, but for a club like Roma, those guys are hardly attainable and tend to leave a lot sooner than someone like Doni or Lobont. I personally thought Wojciech would be the summit, that Roma couldn’t possibly improve in that department. Boy I was wrong. Enter Alisson Becker.
Alisson’s stay in Rome was short but sweet. One full season of dazzling saves, crazy footwork and supersexy Brazilian flair. But it was all so short-lived. He left sooner than we expected and it all happened so fast. Alisson could have given us so much more satisfaction but instead he chose a new challenge in England. Good for him, bad for Roma.
His legacy in Rome is a nice CL run and third place in Serie A (he didn’t play a single minute in 2016-2017). Approx 60 games in a Roma shirt. But 60 unforgettable games.
While Roma got an enormous amount of money for Becker last Summer, Monchi still had to find a suitable replacement which was harder to do than beating Dark Souls on the PS3 blindfolded and with six broken fingers while listening to Nickelback.
In July Monchi bought Olsen for €8.5 million. In fact, Monchi bought a total of three new keepers and hoped that at least one would surprise us. Mirante’s 35 but sadly didn’t become the new De Sanctis; he even looked rather nervous when he had to play. Fuzato on the other hand is still raw and probably years away from his peak. A loan will do him good. So that leaves us with Robin Olsen, a 28-year-old coming from Copenhagen. He was the safest bet to seal his place as our no 1 but a lot of fans weren’t impressed by this signing in the Summer.
Ok, so Robin had some CL experience but at the not so young age of 28 he never left the cold of Scandinavia/Denmark apart from one year in Greece at ‘topclub’ PAOK. Facts and numbers made us doubt his quality. However, Olsen was the undisputed number one for Sweden and had a surprisingly good World Cup, but we all know that doesn’t count in the Hell of Roma (see: Stekelenburg).
So after five months, how has Olsen been doing?
Well, like I said earlier in this post, he’s doing mighty fine if you ask me. Dare I say he has been *gasp* ‘impressive’? Even in Roma’s last game of 2018, in Parma, he pulled off some incredible saves. Of course, the critics will point at that horrible Genoa game where Olsen had not one but two howlers. To be fair though, everyone from Roma had a bad day and even Alisson is prone to howlers it seems. Just look up the Liverpool-Leicester match this season.
Yet only true talents recover from those kind of blunders (no, not you Karius) and Olsen did just that. Maybe it’s because of his nationality. Scandinavian people seem more down-to-earth and less melodramatic/flamboyant than Italians, Greek or Brazilians.
Olsen knows he’s not the second coming of Buffon or Yashin, so he compensates with hard work. Be it in Serie A or CL, Olsen did a very decent job, you can’t ask more of a goalkeeper. Unless of course you want him to start counter-attacks by throwing or kicking a ball with sniper precision into the feet of our wingers or act as a sweeper in defence and build up from the back... buuuuut then we’re once again in Neuer or Alisson territory. Guys Roma can’t keep and leave as soon as Real, City or Bayern come knocking on our door. Roma can’t have shiny toys for a long time, get used to it.
No, Olsen just protects his goal, tries to make the life of strikers in Italy as hard as possible. He makes Manolas and Fazio feel more at ease, knowing he’s the last man and still capable of performing a miracle when needed. When all else fails. Sometimes that’s all we need from a keeper, without the rest of the bling bling.
Perhaps Robin’s not the goalkeeper we deserve, but he’s definitely the one Roma needs right now. And he’s only been here for give months. He can still improve and learn a lot. Soon to be 29, Olsen is entering his prime and could be tempted to stay here well into his 30s. Roma’s the first and probably last top club of his career. It’s now or never.
Even better. Olsen, while inferior to Alisson, could surpass Becker’s legacy if he stays in Rome for a longer period. I certainly see him becoming a bigger fan favorite than Becker in time.
Why? Because sometimes less is more.