What a year for David de Gea. The youngster from Madrid. Signed last season for £18m, made a string of high profile and costly errors and received constant criticism from the press and some fans. This year, the improvement is vast. And now he is one of our contenders for player of the season.
This season hasn’t been without error or criticism for the young Spaniard, but really, most of the criticism he receives is because he managed to pick up a ‘dodgy keeper’ tag that is hard to shake off. In reality, he has been one of the best goalkeepers in the league. He has made far fewer mistakes than Joe Hart and Pepe Reina, who are often considered two of the best keepers in the Premier League.
He has retained all of his fantastic attributes such as his immense shot stopping ability and his reactions, as well as his excellent distribution. But he has improved and adapted to the physical side of the game too. He comes and collects balls with a calmness and confidence and has faced plenty of physical battles, none more so than against West Ham late on in the season. Sir Alex Ferguson recently said that De Gea had put on a stone in weight of pure muscle. Something that has helped him immensely.
As a goalkeeper, he is still a novice. Many keepers don’t mature until their 30s, and here is de Gea, churning out top performances and making superb saves at the tender age of 22. Not only is he doing this, but he is doing it at Manchester United which brings its own pressures.
Another thing to factor in, is that De Gea has been performing so well behind a back 4 that has constantly changed in front of him. All of our defenders are superb, but none have had that chance to form a defensive partnership as a unit. Defences, including the goalkeeper, need to form an understanding, and due to our injuries, we haven’t been able to do that, making De Gea’s job all the more impressive.
His stand out game of the season was against Real Madrid in the Santiago de Bernabeu, his first match in Madrid since his transfer from Real’s rivals, Athletico. United played well that day but were carved open time and time again by Ronaldo, Ozil, Di Maria and co, but De Gea pulled off save after save.
De Gea also helped United to a replay in the FA Cup. After opening a 2 goal lead, Chelsea came back at United and if it wasn’t for De Gea, United would have been out.
Best moment: It has to be that save in the Santiago Bernabeu. Fabio Coentrao’s effort from inside the box was tipped onto the post by the big Spaniard in superb fashion. The thing that impresses me most was the fact that he was unsighted and he still managed to save it purely down to instinct.
An excellent keeper who can only get better. A worthy nominee for Player of the Year.