Either Alex Ferguson is telling it exactly like it is, or he has very convincing poker face.
Thing the about David de Gea is that there are plenty more like him if he’s cast aside, the Premier League will just dip it’s hand into the talent pot of the European market. De Gea will receive criticism, and that’s fair and expected for any athlete. But it seems as though he’s taking a lot of unnecessary flak, certainly more than the other No 1 goalkeeper in Manchester.
De Gea was excellent for much of his time in Spain, so much so that he’s been touted as one of the replacements for Victor Valdes at Barcelona. Manchester United paid big money to bring in a young talent who was nowhere near his peak and looked well shy of the size needed to combat the relentless attacks of Premier League football. The thing is, a good player like that doesn’t just lose his ability or watch his talent diminish overnight. He’s still the raw product that was brought in two summers ago, but many are quick to forget that.
I don’t believe this rotation policy with Anders Lindegaard is doing either keeper any favours. If rotation is the way United want to go then bringing in an experienced head to compete with the Spaniard makes better sense.
De Gea is too young, too fragile and too inexperienced to handle to pressure that comes with playing for Manchester United on his own. Lindegaard, on the other hand, isn’t good enough. It’s a smart decision if United are in the market for another goalkeeper, with names like Julio Cesar thrown into the mix, however I doubt they’re seen as replacements for de Gea.
So where’s the sense in letting him go? Because others are upset or disappointed with de Gea’s performances and lack of authority in dealing with aerial threats? Well that’s their problem, and Ferguson said it right when he put it forward that United will deal with it internally, rather than the names in the media.
For the most part, de Gea has been excellent this season. Mistakes are a frustration that teams have to deal with when handling young players. But there is still far too much upside to the player’s potential to just discard him after what many believe to be a season and a half of average performances. If de Gea is criticised for failing to deal with Tottenham’s equaliser at White Hart Lane then fine, it’s always easier to target the goalkeeper. But shouldn’t criticism be laid at the group of outfield players who failed to add to or hold onto their 1-0 lead?
It’s become an essential and non-negotiable characteristic of a goalkeeper’s game for them to be completely comfortable and assured when dealing with a barrage of crosses and aerial battles. How sad. How sad it is that it’s come to that. How sad that Premier League fans weigh up whether their new signing in goal can handle himself in the box, and that’s it. I get that its part of the way English teams play, but didn’t most have similar doubts about players in the build of David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Juan Mata?
United have taken a gamble on a player who may not have been ready to make the step up from Atletico to Manchester United, but you have to deal with these gambles in sports. I doubt Ferguson would be looking to throw away an investment that cost him close to £20 million after only two seasons.
After all, the best goalkeepers in Europe at the moment – who are all in their early-20s – may experience similar difficulties if thrown into the deep waters of Premier League football. I can’t think of any club in need of a good goalkeeper who would turn away players like Bernd Leno, Thibaut Courtois or Marc-Andre ter Stegen. David de Gea is and should be considered in that same bracket of leading young talents in Europe. But the problem is their age and the difficulties that may arise as they continue their development. It doesn’t, however, cheapen their value.
De Gea is not good enough as of now to be the direct replacement for Edwin van der Sar, but the sooner people stop looking at it that way the better it will be. At the moment, the two are incomparable; it may come it time, but that’s still some way down the line. De Gea gets plenty of stick for perceived bad performances, of which there haven’t really been many. Bad moments yes, where his inexperience becomes evident. But there really isn’t enough equal praise when he is the difference for United.