David de Gea 20 Goalkeeper Manchester United
We’ve always felt that Sir Alex Ferguson dreaded buying goalkeepers. Collecting strikers is never a huge problem, and for every slightly errant midfield purchase (Veron?) there is always someone to readily cover and dilute any negative attention. Same with defenders. It’s not quite that easy with goalkeepers though.
Fergie has form here and while Jim Leighton had been outstanding at Aberdeen, he wobbled on a fairly regular basis at Old Trafford in the late eighties. Les Sealy’s appearance between the sticks in the 1990 FA Cup final replay effectively terminated Leighton’s United career and it was only when Peter Schmeichel arrived at United that Ferguson’s side began to excel.
Replacing Schmeichel was never going to be an easy thing to do and while Fabian Barthez was always capable of pulling off a world class save, he was just as proficient at flapping manically at thin air as the ball sailed across his bald pate.
A procession of close but no cigar custodians includes Bosnich, Taibi, Carroll, Howard and Foster, but it is only Edwin van der Sar that can truly claim to have replaced Schmeichel with any semblance of success.
After a lengthy courtship, van der Sar arrived at United at the somewhat senior age of 35. No great issue for an experienced goalkeeper, but Ferguson will have long noted the need to replace his number one as the Dutchman's 2001 retirement drew nearer.
Protracted interest in two young goalkeepers from Europe was well documented and it seemed inevitable that Ferguson would plump for the outstanding Schalke keeper Manuel Neuer. However, that particular avenue closed with Neuer moving to Bayern Munich in the summer, United instead concluding a deal for Atlético Madrid’s David de Gea.
Following two very good seasons with Atlético, de Gea arrived at Old Trafford for a fee reported to be around £17m, sensibly described as undisclosed by a club no doubt keen to remove the burden of a huge price tag from some very young shoulders.
So with the far more experienced Neuer commanding a fee of just over £20m, why opt for a goalkeeper not yet capped at full international level by Spain?
The key here appears to be the impact and influence of Edwin van Der Sar on Ferguson’s thinking. De Gea is young, very young, but it is his similarity in style, ability and - dare we say – physical resemblance to van Der Sar that we consider significant factors in Ferguson’s selection of the Spaniard over Neuer.
Invariably de Gea suffered some early criticism at United, and was also in goal for the 6-1 drubbing by rivals City earlier this season. But he has been impressive of late and has quickly won over the United faithful - an essential act for any new goalkeeper.
We think de Gea is excellent and United have put in place a goalkeeper who should be able to look after the Old Trafford nets for the next ten, fifteen or perhaps twenty years. Patience is vital and it should be noted that De Gea is still learning his art. Ferguson has uttered comments requesting the same on more than one occasion, keen to deflect any criticism from a player that will surely be in situ long after his current manager departs. Outstanding reflexes and almost perfect distribution are in place, peerless defence commanding is not……not yet anyway.
De Gea is an outstanding young goalkeeper and the future is his.
“Very assured, competent. Shaky start, yes, but that’s understandable. Distribution a great asset.” – Zack Hann (ManUtd24)
“Shaky start was horribly over exaggerated, been superb ever since. Assured, great technically, adapting to England very well.” – @ManUnitedYouth
C+ Don’t let anyone get you down.