Friday, 7 January 2011

Is Maxwell The Greatest?

Chris Maxwell plays his fiftieth game for Wrexham tomorrow, and in doing so highlights a remarkable achievement.

On the statistical section of I've got a record of the most efficient goalkeepers in the club's history, sorted by how often they concede goals. In order to ensure the figures aren't corrupted by keepers who made just a handful of appearances, I set the cut-off point at fifty games, so Maxwell becomes eligible tomorrow, and goes straight to the top of the list!
In fact, in terms of the frequency of goals past him, he's comfortably the best goalie in Wrexham's history, a decent amount ahead of the only other man to have conceded goals at a rate fewer than one per game, Andy Dibble!

It's a terrific achievement, but statistics always need context; what do the figures really tell us?

Well, obviously Maxwell is playing at a lower level than any keeper since Wrexham entered the Football League in 1921, so what does that tell us? Well, it means that the table doesn't prove he's the best keeper in our history; Dai Davies, for example, is third on the list and played all his Wrexham career three divisions higher. Clearly he faced a better quality of opponent.

However, Maxwell has certainly been the most successful keeper we've ever had in the context of the level we're playing at. Okay, he should be facing poorer strikers, but by the same logic he ought to have worse defenders in front of him.

Of course, that's another point; this is a record which is shared by the whole defensive unit. Dean Saunders has consistently built sides that don't concede goals, and Maxwell has benefited from that. However, he shouldn't be painted as the fortunate beneficiary of a solid back four; the other keepers we've had at The Racecourse during Saunders' time here have worse ratios of goals per minute. As I've previously mentioned, Scott Shearer conceded at double the rate Maxwell has done this season. If you really want to take liberties with statistics (go on, indulge yourself-every TV commentator does!) then Maxwell hasn't let a goal in since November!

So massive credit goes to Maxwell. Where he lies in terms of talent compared to his predecessors is an open subject for debate, but one thing is certain. No Wrexham fans have ever watched a more successful keeper.

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