13. So What Actually Makes a Good Goalkeeper? Featuring Aidan Reagh


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By Martin Grosman & Will Ahlgren, Martin Grosman, and Will Ahlgren. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Episode (lucky number) 13! Welcome to TT's first ever interview episode, with Aidan Reagh. Today, rather than spouting the usual nonsense, Martin & Will sit back, relax, and enjoy a true expert soccer talker's insights. Thank God for that!

As two blokes somewhat unfamiliar with the often-separated world of goalkeeping, our co-hosts have long pondered how to genuinely understand what differentiates the good from the bad players in net. Height, vocal projection, confidence, and other intuitive psuedo-metrics like perceived diving technique have given them clues in the past, but left them with more questions than answers. Today, Aidan--a member of the Soccer Detail blogging group and former FC Gronigen, Bristol Rovers, and Ohio University analyst--joins the show to teach the lads a thing or two about the art of understanding this niche position.

To start, the conversation delves into how we can first separate these players into buckets--3 or 4 that can refine our high-level understanding of any given GK candidate. We can pretty easily categorize wingers, lets say, into inverted or traditional ones, or centerbacks into the newly-popular cats and dogs, but how does this work for the gloved fellas in goal? With that in mind, Aidan digs deeper and touches upon the cognitive side of protecting the goal, in conjunction with the technical requirements needed for success. It's hard to do nothing the whole game and come up big when it counts--yet that's exactly what these players are tasked with. The trio then discuss a few common misconceptions about height thresholds and the ostensible craziness requirement to face a firing squad, before jumping into the nitty gritty.

Here, Aidan leads the way as he explains a variety of sources from which we can find data on the world's elite goalkeepers. Within these hubs, he elaborates on what various metrics mean, like PSxG, save %, launching, exits, and more. He makes sure to tie these back into the buckets from earlier, enhancing our comprehension of which stats matter most to each type of player. With these quantifiable tools in hand, we can then embark on a journey to understand exactly what each GK brings to the table, rather than solely relying on our amateur eye tests. Some are better off their line, others more involved in buildup, and others still are keeping more goals out than they probably should. This is much more sophisticated than a superficial tag, and lets us appreciate many of the finer details imbedded in the GK role.

As we march into the second half, Martin & Will put Aidan to the test, by challenging him to use Wyscout to find viable replacements for several squad-building challenges. These fabricated problems start with a potential Spanish-speaking, under €1M, shot-stopper for an expansion MLS team looking to avoid the bottom spot in their first year. Taking the "GM's desires" and converting them into actionable criteria, M & W follow Mr. Reagh as he whittles down a list of hundreds of goalies to a select handful, eventually proposing 2 that just might fit the listed requirements. These scenarios continue, as a search is outlined and executed for new Roma, Ajax, and Hertha Berlin GKs, too.

The episode finishes off with a rapid-fire round of "prospect brass tacks", in which our co-hosts shoot a few popular, young keeper names at Aidan, as he responds with the angles of their game he finds most or least impressive--from just a quick look at their numbers. Guys like Unai Simon, Illan Meslier, and Alban Lafont are placed under the microscope to see if they're really worth the hype, and what we might expect from them, moving forward.

Join us to hear our thoughts on all these items, and more--including a traumatizing groin shot, Will's infatuation with a certain cross-pond T-Rex, Martin's water-soaked-keyboard-he-caused-right-before-recording-but-never-actually-speaks-about, Keylor Navas' tragically average optics, Martin's dishwasher also making noise in the background, PSG's newest giant Ferrari, Cillessen's iconic ode to Johan, some UCL chit chat with the usual LdJ-inspired dejection, Will's Merseyside greediness, and the lanky Mr. Stekelenburg's first pod cameo.

Find us on Twitter @touchlinetheory.

Find our brilliant guest Aidan Reagh on Twitter @ARDataAnalysis, Martin @MG_theory2, and Will @WA_theory! Don't forget to send in your favorite pic of Costel Pantilimon being really tall!

Disclaimer: Martin sincerely apologizes (this is Martin) for mispronouncing the Colombian's name on the pod. This isn't El Pipita! El Loco is cut from a different cloth.

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