Let me preface everything you are about to read with one simple statement: Following the performances of Wojciech Szczesny and Alisson Becker, the barometer for goalkeeping success in Roma was reset...dramatically. In two successive seasons, Roma had arguably the best goalkeeper in the league protecting their backsides. Sure, Alisson was flashier and garnered more acclaim, but Woj was second to none during Roma's almost magical 2016-2017 season. Think about it for a second; Roma's last two keepers were either tabbed to replace Gianluigi Buffon or went for a world record fee, well, at least for a few days.
Considering all that, whoever attempted to fill their shoes was bound to disappoint to some degree, but Monchi was smart, he did his due diligence. Shit, he was a goalkeeper, he knew what to look for, right?
I can see why you'd think that, but what if I told you that Monchi fell prey to one of football’s cardinal sins: overpaying for a World Cup hero.
With Robin Olsen standing tall for Sweden during the 2018 World Cup, helping propel them all the way to the Quarterfinals, the world took notice. And while Olsen's global acclaim was no doubt on the rise, Monchi was the only one who saw fit to pay nearly eight to ten times his perceived value (per Transfermarkt), making him the most pricey player to ever come out of the Danish league and one of the priciest non-Zlatan Swedes ever.
But with a cleansheet in his club debut, a one-nil victory over Torino on opening day in which he faced 10 shots, Roma seemed in safe albeit unspectacular hands. But then came week two. And week three. And the UEFA Nations League. And then week four. And then week five. And then week six.
You get the picture. After pitching that initial shutout, Olsen was beaten 15 times over his next six matches. The natural caveat to any keeper discussion is, of course, that he's only as good as the men in-front of him. It's an understandable but not complete line of thinking, and is part of the reason why discussing keepers with publicly available statistics is fraught with peril. Football is a low scoring sport, but the ball finding the back of the net is usually precipitated by a chain of causality—midfield possession and position, defensive pressure, attackers tracking back, zonal vs man marking etc. so you can only pin so much on the keeper.
But still, Robin Olsen has conceded 58 goals in 35 appearances...58! That's five tens and eight ones! That's almost 60! That's insane.
In league play, Olsen has conceded 42 goals in 27 appearances, the sixth worst mark in the league. That is to say, only five keepers have been beaten more than Olsen. Dial that in a bit and you'll see that Olsen concedes a goal every 58 minutes in Serie A, the league's ninth worst rate. Olsen's four cleansheets are the second fewest in the league and the worst among full-time starters.
I’m sure if we had access to some advanced analytics, some of that stink would come off, but ask your eyes: is Olsen up to snuff?
Prior to last weekend's Derby del Sole disaster, Olsen received the dreaded vote of confidence from Claudio Ranieri, but after another suspect performance, can we be certain the Tinkerman's...uh, tinkering...won't extend between the sticks against Fiorentina midweek?
If Olsen does indeed retain the starter's gloves, it may fall down to a simple lack of better options. Antonio Mirante is an experienced veteran, but he's not exactly the second coming of the Brazilian Don Draper now is he?
Considering all that, and considering Ranieri's supposed faith in him, Olsen may hang onto his job by default, but with rumors connecting him to a host of midtable Premiership clubs, don't be shocked if Olsen is a one-season wonder.
Should Roma bench Olsen right now?
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