Unconventional De Gea is one of Fergie’s Finest Signings
As Manchester United’s season has continued to darken, David De Gea has likewise continued to demonstrate that Sir Alex Ferguson got his last major goalkeeping decision right. It’s almost amusing that the last time I wrote about De Gea, it was under the topic of ‘rotation.’ It wasn’t all that long ago that Fergie still couldn’t decide between the young Spaniard and Anders Lindegaard. Sounds incredible today, doesn’t it? While Lindegaard is a serviceable deputy, even De Gea’s previously harshest critics have long since acknowledged his quality.
For many, the turning point came this time last year, when United went out to Real Madrid in the Champions League. De Gea turned in a hero’s performance at the Bernabeu. The truth is, he’d already been performing stellar duty for a calendar year by that point, but a combination of the high-profile stage of the game, as well as the nature of some of his acrobatics (that foot save!) brought this home to a larger audience. And he has only matured since then.
Noticeably physically stronger and clearly confident, he has been one of United’s most consistent performers, and one of the few who does not pale when compared to players in the same respective positions at City, Chelsea, and, sadly these days, Liverpool. He continues to be unconventional – no goalkeeper coach would promote his ‘gunslinger’ hands-behind-body set position, or extensive use of his feet when making saves – and it continues to work for him. All behind a back four that changes most weeks and affords him only a fraction of the protection once enjoyed by Edwin Van der Sar.
His save from Luis Suarez’s volley, in the otherwise miserable Liverpool game, was astonishing, as was the more meaningful double-save against Olympiakos to ensure United’s Champions League progression. Only the Capital One Cup mistake against Sunderland stands as a dark mark on his season, but errors like that have long been the exception to his consistency.
Speculation has naturally turned to the inevitability of him moving back to Spain. It seems unwarranted at this stage. Barcelona appear to have gone for Marc-Andre Ter Stegen to replace Victor Valdes, while Madrid are capably manned by the double-team of Lopez and Casillas. He’s ours for now, and should be for some time to come. Enjoy him, and wait for better days from those around him.