In defence of David De Gea

There’s a scene in Mike Bassett England manager where Bassett -played by Ricky Tomlinson decides to take his squad to a football institute, he’s shown one machine that helps players emulate legends skills. The man in charge of the institute Dr Hans Shoegaarten lists the players they used. Pele, Maradona, Mark Lawrenson. “Mark Lawrenson?!” Bassett asks incredulously “we ran out of money” comes the reply.

The same conversation could have taken place at the offices of the Mirror when the publisher asked his editor who was contributing football articles. Mark Lawrenson’s piece which was published on Saturday was a somewhat scathing attack on David De Gea.

David De Gea cost £17million and yet the jury is still out on the Manchester United goalkeeper.

After three and a half months in the Premier League, you would have expected a bit more.

Certainly for that sort of money you cannot talk too much about potential, or him being a work in progress and still developing.

In those three sentences Lawrenson showed why he simply hasn’t got a clue about football. The fact that De Gea cost £17 million doesn’t mean he should be the finished article, is Phil Jones? Was Wayne Rooney when he cost practically £30 million? How on earth Lawrenson can’t see that a 21 year-old is always going to be a work in progress -regardless of his transfer fee is beyond me.

Lawrenson then goes on to note: De Gea looks does not look as if he fills the goal yet, either in stature or size. In many ways, he looks as if he needs bulking up.

I’ve heard this argument before and in all honesty it annoys me. De Gea hasn’t lost loads of weight since he left Atletic Madrid. He’s the same size he was when the whole of football was drooling over his ability. Yes he’s skinny, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a top ‘keeper, his size is merely more nonsense for the ABU press to criticise.

Lawrenson goes on: De Gea does not command his penalty box in the way that Van der Sar or Schmeichel used to. He is a younger, more inexperienced man but must add that to his game.

He needs to come out and smash people – perhaps in the same way, Grobbelaar did with Mcmanaman?

“Smashing people” is not a requisite of being a good keeper, in fact De Gea will learn how to command his box as he gains more experience that’s the same for all number 1s. Even the great Schmeichel had the odd flap at corners and crosses ditto United legends such as Alex Stepney and Gary Bailey. De gea will learn and the only way for that to happen is giving him games and time. Something Lawrenson doesn’t believe he has.

You cannot win the title without a top class keeper and, while De Gea has massive potential, he needs to start performing at the top level week-in and week-out to really establish himself. I’m sure only a few sentences earlier Lawrenson spoke of how you ‘cannot talk about potential’ but hey ho.

Lawrenson also comments on how De Gea has been ‘decent but no more’ and how Schmeichel had already established himself after a few months at Old Trafford. Here Lawrenson forgets that the Great Dane was 27 when United bought him and alreasdy had over 30 full international caps. There’s a bit of a difference.

De Gea showed again on Saturday that he’s top class and his performances have steadily increased this season. Okay he made an error against Benfica but so did Phil Jones, does anyone think he’s not up to the job?

David de Gea has been awesome at times this season and there’s enough to suggest that yet again Sir Alex Ferguson has made the right decision in the transfer market. I said when he signed we -meaning United fans- may have to be patient and give him a season to fully settle in. I stand by that statement, although from what I’ve seen there’s no reason this season can’t be a successful one for both him and United.

 Article from Justin at the excellent Red Flag Flying High

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