This Time, Fergie Has Got It Right
Before the title of this article gets drawn out of context, I believe that Sir Alex Ferguson makes the right decision on most occasions.
The fact is the United manager made a mistake when replacing Peter Schmeichel. The Great Dane made his exit from Old Trafford in the summer of 1999, after captaining the club in the Champions’ League final win over Bayern Munich, that ‘wrapped up’ the famous treble.
His departure from The Reds was always going to be a damaging one, yet it would be six years before realising how fundamental his loss would be. Of course, the goalkeeping dilemma left the a detrimental hole within the side that unsurprisingly saw United go through a less successful period with the likes of Tim Howard, Mark Bosnich, Fabien Barthez and Roy Carroll in between the sticks.
Fortunately Van der Sar’s reassuring presence brought success and a number of trophies including four League titles and the third Champions’ League in the club’s history. Since Van der Sar announced he was to retire from the game, Sir Alex has made it clear it is imperative the right choice is signed as his replacement first time round, in comparison to Schmeichel’s replacements.
Thankfully, for a number of reasons, the Scot has made the right decision in Spain’s under 21 goalkeeper David De Gea. The young Spaniard is set to be the second most expensive goalkeeper in football history, although it could well to turn out to be a bargain for the club. Thankfully United’s rivals in England and Europe are not in desperate need for a goalkeeper and therefore didn’t give us any competitors for his signature; all except Arsenal that is but we all know of Arsene Wenger’s reluctance to enter the transfer market- meaning United had a free run at convincing De Gea that the best place for him was Old Trafford.
There are two similar clubs, in recent years, that have put their faith in a young talented goalkeeper and have found it to be a great acquisition. Iker Casillas, Real Madrid’s superstar keeper, has been first choice since 1998 when he was only 17. The talented shot stopper last summer was captain of the Spanish national side that won the World Cup and generally regarded as the world’s best goalkeeper.
Peter Cech joined Chelsea at the age of 23, older than De Gea but similar in ways of experience and stature within European football. The Chelsea man experienced his most successful period with The Blues under the management of Jose Mourinho. Cech had broken the record for the longest amount of time without conceding a goal in a game during the Premiership’s 2004-2005 before our own Edwin Van der Sar was to break the record again in the 2008-2009 season. Cech has gained so much success during his time in West London, yet is only 29, suggesting a world class goalkeeper doesn’t just have to be 30 plus to handle the pressure.
Of course, most importantly, a United keeper needs to have the ability to be able to perform at the highest level. David appears to have this with a number of impressive displays for Spain’s under 21 side who won the European Championship on Sunday. That alongside the striking performances being Athletico Madrid’s number one last season.
The Madrid side are a team who are not blessed with a stable defence and De Gea’s constancy has been one of his most notable qualities within a struggling team. Sir Alex has pointed out he has a number of similarities to Van Der Sar and probably the final indication to Ferguson that he was the correct successor.
His ability to play the ball out with a good passing range is rare but we were lucky enough last season to have a goalkeeper in Edwin who was able to pick a pass. His calm approach, height and reach are all skills which can be found in the Dutchman suggest the transition next season, and in the future, may be a lot smoother than a lot of people think.
De Gea’s arrival and subsequent performances will obviously be a worry etched into the minds of all United fans but I truly believe the manager is making the right decision with De Gea. I can’t think of a better candidate to replace Van Der Sar, in terms of the talent to the play in the side next season and the potential to improve over the next few seasons.
Mistakes will come but when they do we must remember that this is inevitable with any goalkeeper, even though they will probably be highlighted even more than those that are made by other goalkeepers in the league. Nonetheless, this is just one of the things that De Gea will have to live with, being the number one goalkeeper for the world’s biggest club.
Some say this pressure may overwhelm De Gea but I think Sir Alex’s faith in him is well placed, considering his ice cool attitude in both the Europa League Final and the UEFA U21 Championship’s Final; something which should help all United supporters believe that Sir Alex has pinpointed the right successor first time around this time.
About Joseph Maloney
A massive United fan, Joseph has been a season-ticket holder at Old Trafford for the past 5 seasons and is currently studying sports journalism at University. Hoping to succeed in the tough world of football media, Joseph will be writing more often on Can They Score in the coming months, as he hopes to express his passion for the club through his writing.
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