Garry Monk’s short lived time on Teesside can be catagorised in two words: overspending and underachieving.
The former Swansea City and Leeds United boss spent over £30 million on strikers alone. Monk broke Boro’s transfer record when he splashed £15 million on Nottingham Forest’s Britt Assombalonga; as well as bringing in Ashley Fletcher from West Ham United and Martin Braithwaite from Toulouse.
One position on the pitch Monk’s recruitment came up trumps, however, was between the sticks, as Darren Randolph – like Fletcher – was signed from West Ham for £5 million. The decision for the Hammers to sell the Republic of Ireland was a knock on affect from England’s number 1 Joe Hart arriving on loan at the London Stadium and raised eyebrows in some circles.
Since his arrival at Middlesbrough, Randolph has been nothing short of exemplary, only missing out on the team’s Player of the Year award for the 2017/18 season because of Adama Traore’s sudden arrival as one of the league’s best players.
Randolph, who has 33 Ireland caps to his name, carried his form over into the new season. He has made two mistakes during his time on the banks of the Tees – namely clearing into the Ben Gibson, allowing Jamie Mackie to score in a 2017 clash with Queens Park Rangers, and spilling a tame Glenn Wheelan shot to round off a 3-0 beat-down at the hands of Aston Villa earlier this season.
Middlesbrough’s number 23, however, has undoubtedly kept his side in more games than he has cost them, with some outstanding shot-stopping. This season alone, saves from Bradley Dack at Ewood Park and
a double-stop when Leeds United were bearing down on the North Stand net at the Riverside has resulted in three extra points for Tony Pulis’ side.
While Randolph is impressive for Boro, how do his numbers stack up against the other ‘keepers in England’s second tier?
On the face of it Randolph has the most clean sheets – Sheffield United’s Dean Henderson has three less clean sheets than the Middlesbrough stopper’s 16 – and Pulis’ team have conceded 24 goals in 34 games. This means that the Teessiders have kept a clean sheet in 47.1% of their matches*. A quite amazing statistic.
To go along with this, his competitors for the league’s ‘golden glove’ Randolph is ahead of Henderson, Costel Pantilimon from Notts Forest and Stoke City’s Jack Butland in saves per minute, (128) total saves (81) and saves per goal (4.26)**
While if you ask the average Championship fan who the best goalkeeper in the division is, they may well say Butland. The Potter’s stopper – who was involved in England’s World Cup run to the semi-finals – the statistics may suggest that the his former Birmingham City teammate has the better of him, with 14 games left in the campaign.
*Statistic from transfermarkt.com
**Statistic from Squawaka.com