Despite a slow start for new manager Louis Van Gaal at Manchester United, things are gradually improving for the Red Devils, as they entered the top four of the Premier League for the first time in a year after their 2-1 win against Everton. However, there are still questions to be answered in terms of Van Gaal’s defence. With big money signings such as Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Ander Herrera having come in for astronomical fees and impressed, fellow newbies Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw have recently had a torrid time alongside the likes of Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
This resulted in former Bayern Munich and Barcelona chief Van Gaal sticking to his well-publicised philosophy of bringing through youngsters. The likes of Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair have been fast tracked into the first team set up in order to steady the ship for United at the back. A world class centre half is exactly what United are missing at the moment. However, one player that has been ever reliable at the back is goalkeeper David De Gea. Had it not been for the Spaniard, the 20 times Premier League champions would not be sitting in fourth place in the table. This was very much evident in the game against the Toffees, where he pulled off save after save on numerous occasions and was the first goalkeeper to stop a Leighton Baines penalty in the Premier League.
After signing from Spanish side Atletico Madrid in 2011, the 23 year old endured a difficult beginning to life in England and the Premier League on and off the pitch. His small stature meant De Gea couldn’t handle the physicality of English football for the first six months – especially from corners and set pieces, where De Gea would often lose his bearings. However, in his first season in Manchester, De Gea, who is known for his shot stopping, had the best save success rate in the league with 78%, more than Manchester City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Off the pitch, his lifestyle had to be changed. Because of his weight issues, putting on muscle was essential for De Gea. The stopper himself said “I do not think people appreciate just how hard it was for me coming to a new country at that age and a different type of football.”
Now, whenever the Manchester United back four are exposed, there is less worry about conceding with De Gea between the sticks. Despite conceding five against newly promoted Leicester City and four against League One outfit MK Dons, there was nothing United’s number one could be blamed for, as it was simply sloppy errors from the defenders which cost the club. It is safe to say that David De Gea is now regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and United can now say they pulled off some superb business when they brought him in for £16m. De Gea has firmly justified his price tag.
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