David de Gea hasn’t got himself into the team of the year this season, but you can bet your life he will win Manchester United’s player of the year award, be it the player’s player or the fan’s player, in fact it is quite possible he will get both, he deserves both. De Gea is one of the United players who can hold their head up high this year because he has certainly not let them down.
Go on the Man Utd website, look at the top of the screen and see the man they have decided to make the figurehead of the page, the man who has been their player of the season.
There once was a point where if you were to read the football pages in newspapers, listen to the radio, or scroll through blogs online, you would be reading/hearing regular criticism aimed at Manchester United’s David De Gea. The criticism at times could be seen as justified, but at other times it would just seem like easy journalism. Now though, such days are gone, all football pundits, fans and journalists, at present, have nothing but positive words for a young goalkeeper who has done nothing but drastically improve, by not only silencing his critics, but turning them into admirers in the process.
During this time many questioned whether or not the Spaniard had the credentials to make it at Old Trafford. De Gea was constantly under scrutiny, so Sir Alex Ferguson, known for his ability to protect his players from the media, would rotate De Gea with Lindegaard when tricky away games were the obstacle ahead. These tricky away games were everything that the keeper was supposedly not built for. When games like Stoke away arrived Lindegaard would get the nod, simply because of the physicality of the game and having to deal with so many crosses. Dealing with crosses and having a commanding presence in the box were seen as De Gea’s weak points.
This wasn’t something that was picked up on by just about every single sports journalist, but also the opposing players. Crosses would be whipped in at every single occasion and come a corner came the inevitable; surround De Gea and give him no room, do everything you can to exploit this weakness.
Sadly though for Lindegaard, these rotation days are nothing but a distant memory, there is no way he is stepping in for these “tricky away games” anymore. Why? Simply because he is no longer needed. De Gea has immensely improved on the weaknesses everyone so ruthlessly pointed out.
He now commands his box with efficiency, confidently communicates with his defenders, and especially deals with corners and crosses with a much higher authority. The shy, weedy Spaniard with poor English is a thing of the past. The young keeper, like Sir Alex Ferguson had every faith he would, has remoulded himself into a trust worthy, brilliant keeper who time after time bails out his Manchester United team mates.
The improvement is simply drastic. One minute a shaky keeper everyone thinks won’t make it, to the only ray of light in a depressing Manchester United season. The 23 year old has arguably been the best player for the Red Devils this campaign, something that many United fans would struggle to disagree with. In 34 appearances in the league this season, De Gea has kept 11 clean sheets, which is an improvement on last seasons tally.
This stat by itself is impressive, but when you consider the context it is even more so. The keeper has had to deal with playing behind a forever changing back four. There has been no consistency at the back for United whatsoever, constantly chopping and changing will cause any team to suffer defensively, so this season his work has been made even harder. The reason Chelsea have one of the best defences in the league this season is because of a consistent back four. Czech is lucky in this sense, De Gea far from it, so when United do get a get a back four they can stick with De Gea will massively benefit.
For a foreign player, settling in is always seen as an issue. Last year he looked like he was beginning to do so in Manchester, but the arrival of Juan Mata this year has put the icing on the cake and you can see the positive impact it has had on the 23 year old. He is no longer the only Spanish member in the squad, something that could very likely have contributed towards his tough start in the Premier League.
It was clear that he wanted another Spanish player to join him at Old Trafford, his enthusiasm towards signing Thiago and Fabregas are evidence to this claim. Now he has got his wish and it will only help him on and off the field. You can see the relationship that he holds with Mata, through the celebration at Newcastle to the images of the pair hugging when he signed in January. Perhaps Manchester United would benefit by bringing in a few more Spanish players, a nationality they always seem to lack.
De Gea, at only 23 years of age, has his peak years ahead of him and certainly has the potential to be world class. Manchester United fans will be hoping that he can become a legend and be mentioned along side the likes of Van der Sar and Schmeichel. With so many years ahead of him there is every chance that he will, especially if he does what the duo have done, win the Champions League. At the moment that dream is far away, due to the fact that Manchester United won’t be playing in the competition next season, but if he stays for many years to come he, along with his fans, will hope he can achieve this legendary status.