Another stunning performance,
Another stunning reflex save,
Another show of superiority,
Another display of growing confidence,
Then followed ….
Another two points lost,
Another day of scepticism,
Another turn from being hero to zero,
Another evening of pundits ripping him apart,
Another day that United are selling him,
Another day in the life of David de Gea
David de Gea’s introduction to the English game couldn’t have been any worse. With the reputation as a glorified shot-stopper which coolness resembled a young aspiring Edwin van Der Sar, he was simply set up for failure. Letting in a long distance flyer for Edin Dzeko in the Community Shield was followed up by rather comical goal from Shane Long at the Hawthorns. Saying that David de Gea was comfortable in England was about as right as the size of the humongous goalkeepers’ shirt he was wearing. And that huge shirt is in many ways David de Gea’s career at Manchester United in a nutshell; he’s trying to fill out a shirt worn by goalkeeping legends like Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar. It’s simply impossible for a man who was about to turn 21 at the time of signing for the club to have the impact his predecessors have had.
The fact of the matter is that he’s being watched through a magnifying glass by anyone and everyone in the footballing world. He’s that “dodgy keeper” from Spain who steals doughnuts and can’t catch crosses. He’s weak and puny and can’t control his area. Had you said this a year ago you would be right.
David de Gea did really struggle in his introduction to English football and hadn’t it been for the repetitive injuries Anders Lindegaard had suffered, then he might not have been United’s first choice.
Overcoming the odds is something which is not new to David de Gea. He started off the 2009/2010-season as the third choice at Atlético Madrid, by the end of the season he was the undisputed number one at the club. Sergio Asenjo and Roberto had both been injured and De Gea’s simply took advantage of it, the same way he took advantage of being United’s undisputed number one with Anders being sidelined. He seemingly has an unbelievable belief in himself and his abilities.
To be frank, with all the flack and criticism that De Gea has had to take since coming to England, it’s quite remarkable how consistent and trustworthy he’s become as United’s number one goalkeeper.
Starting the 2012/2013 season and De Gea just looked the part, he had shown glimpses of being a potential world class goalkeeper in the past, but he now started to look up for the task at such a big club as Manchester United.
He wasn’t going to let himself become bullied by anyone. His pectoral area perhaps isn’t fit to be called concave yet, but he looked much more like a goalkeeper. The annoying part for Manchester United fans was that they were the only ones to notice it. Perhaps it’s because it’s routine that Manchester United have a solid goalkeeper? Whereas Manchester City, who now have Joe Hart, seemed much more reliable at the back than they had ever done.
Looking at Dave’s mistakes, the ones that stick out in many fans mind is the two goals against Swansea City and the Liverpool goal at Old Trafford last weekend, what people fail to realize is that the initial save he made in all instances is something most keepers in the world wouldn’t be able to do, yet, he is the one at fault, as the norm now has become.
Looking back to to the past weekend, the big discussion roars about De Gea’s involvement in Clint Dempsey’s stoppage time equalizer at White Hart Lane. You can definitely stake your claim and say that the Spaniard was at fault, but perhaps you should wonder why no one is marking and closes down Dempsey, why Lennon is allowed to cross, why does Vidic not move for De Gea to come out and collect the ball.
Sure, De Gea should of caught the ball rather than punched it in an earlier sequence, but putting the blame on him alone becomes a bit asinine when we take into account that he had been excellent up until that point, it becomes very misleading and very unfair.
Peter Schmeichel was still learning the ropes at Hvidovre in Denmark and Edwin van der Sar was on the bench during both legs of the UEFA Cup final at Ajax. They were both aged 22.
David de Gea is a European Under-21 Champion with Spain and has won the UEFA Europa League with Atlético Madrid as their starting goalkeeper in the final. Saying he’s not good enough for Manchester United is bogus when he is only 22 himself, able to surpass some of the greatest goalkeepers ever to lace up a pair of boots.
The fact of the matter is that he’s still learning. Hell, Cristiano Ronaldo used three years at United flopping around annoying fans with countless step-overs followed by him being brushed off the ball. The thing that binds Ronaldo and De Gea together, except for their Iberian background, is the obvious talent they both have. You could see that Ronaldo was to become one of the best in the world and you can see that De Gea will, eventually, become one of the best in the world. David de Gea just plays a much more crucial position where things get blown up tenfold for every mistake he does and every world class save is seen as something to be expected.
How can you ever win in that scenario?
Again, roll back to the beginning of the 2010/2011-season, have a look at those videotapes Rio Ferdinand made during the pre-season tour and look at the first few games De Gea had for Manchester United – No talking, no communication, no visual happiness at being at one of the biggest clubs in the world. It generally looked as he thought of himself as being misplaced and he looked misplaced in that huge kit he has wearing literally and figuratively.
Since then David De Gea has grown and he knows it, he now screams at defenders, constantly talking during the game, comes out for crosses and catches them, distributes the ball better than any keeper in the world and looks like he belongs at Manchester United.
Goalkeepers are like fine wine, they do get better with age. That thought alone is almost scary when thinking about how good David de Gea can become at Manchester United.
Yes, there are a few cracks to this wonderful mirage that has been painted, yes, there shouldn’t be any flaws in a Manchester United goalkeeper but Rome wasn’t built in a day either.
The progress seen in David de Gea is quite unique having gone from an uncertain, frail, silent goalkeeper, he now oozes self-belief, confidence and integrity. The lack in belief from people is widespread but the belief in himself seems to trump them all.
David de Gea has a long road ahead of him in terms of winning over the doubters, but for him it’ll be just another obstacle, just another hurdle and just another day in the life of David de Gea.
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