We are back with another player season review and this time it is a player who was not playing for Manchester United this season. That is Sam Johnstone, a goalkeeper that had no place to stay at Old Trafford and instead he decided to go to Championship and play for Aston Villa. That seemed as a good move for him, as he got regular football to play. Here is how his season panned out.
What do the numbers say?
The numbers say that Sam Johnstone was Aston Villa’s first goalkeeping choice. For starters, that is a very good thing. And when you scratch the surface and see that Villa were just 90 minutes away from returning to Premier League, than that is even better. Johnstone made 48 out of possible 49 appearances in Championship this season. He was in goal in 45 matches during the regular part of the season and he was in goal during all three play-off matches.
He conceded 42 goals in total, less than a goal per match, showing how good Aston Villa were overall. At one point they were even sitting in second early into the spring, but they faltered behind Cardiff and Fulham in the end. Nevertheless, Johnstone was very good in goal, keeping 22 clean-sheets. That is a clean-sheet in almost every other game. His shot-stopping was very good, as Johnstone made a total of 137 saves. Compared to his playing time, he was making 2.85 saves per 90 minutes. Not only that, with him conceding 42 goals and making 137 saves, that means that Johnstone saved 76.54 percent of all shots he faced this season.
That is very good at that level and Johnstone truly was one of the important players at Villa Park. He was also making 1.00 clearances per 90, rushing out when necessary.
Was he an important player for the club?
Absolutely, he was very important for Aston Villa this season. Not only he was playing in all but one Championship match this season, but he was third overall with saves made. Only Bialkowski from Ipswich and Gunn from Norwich made more saves in regular season than he did, highlighting his importance to this team. Johnstone showed he can do it at a high level and now remains to be seen where he will play next season. If this season is anything to go by, he has the quality to become a good Premier League goalkeeper, at some of the weaker sides in the league.
He is 25 and can still progress in his career, so the 2017-18 was a big step towards the right direction.
Projection for the 2018-19 season
Sam Johnstone’s future remains unknown right now. If he is to stay at Manchester United, he is probably to become third goalkeeper, with Joel Pereira already there and Sergio Romero possibly leaving this summer. Yet, he should not worry if he is to go on another loan or even change the club completely. This season was a good path for him and he should continue building on that.