Yesterday was a very contrasting day in the history of Manchester United. On the one hand we had Gary Neville’s testimonial against Juventus, which saw a fantastic crowd of around 42,000 turn up to wave goodbye to probably the greatest right back the club has ever seen.
On the other hand United fans worldwide finally found out on the night the identity of our new goalkeeper that we’ve signed to replace Edwin Van der Sar for next season – Atletico Madrid’s David De Gea.
The young Spanish keeper s one of the most highly rated young goalies in Europe and it’s rumoured that we’ve spent between £17-22 million in bringing him to Old Trafford.
Getting back to Gary Neville though, his testimonial last night was a great occasion not just for him, but the club and the fans. Gary’s been one of the club’s most outspoken players and it’s a credit to him that he had such a long successful career at the club.
602 appearances for United is a fantastic achievement over his career at the club and but for injury, there’s no doubt he might have made another 100-150 more appearances for us.
Whilst he looked exhausted after only about 5 minutes last night, he managed to play on and was substituted with 7 minutes to go getting a fantastic reception from the fans inside the ground as he made his way off the pitch.
Juventus put on a good show as well and won the game 2-1. The result though as in all testimonials did not matter as it was a game which for everyone had a ‘rolled back the years’ look to it.
It was amazing to see the stars of our 1992 FA Youth Cup team back together again as David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary’s brother Phil all featured in the game. I
It’s highly unlikely given the way football works that we will ever see 6 youngsters come through from the youth team to become such an integral part of our first team for the best part of a decade.
That’s not to say that no-one in our Youth Team can’t step up to our first team, but there on paper looks like it will be very hard for 4/5 lads to come through like the class of ’92 did.
As for the game itself, it was good to see the likes of Beckham, Butt and Phil Neville back in United colours. All three did a great job for us and will never be forgotten by anyone who cares about our great football club.
Switching now back to our signing of De Gea, I am very excited about us signing him. For the last couple of years, having watched La Liga and European games, it’s been clear to see that De Gea has that ‘special something’ to become a top top world-class goalkeeper.
Whilst some United fans are slightly nervous about his age and the fact it might take him a while to adapt in a new country, I have no doubts that Sir Alex Ferguson has brought in the right goalkeeper.
Whilst Ajax’s Martin Stekelenburg and Leverkusen’s Rene Adler would have been good options, De Gea long-term is by far the more attractive option and with him being only 21, it means that he could be our goalkeeper for well over a decade if he does well.
There’s no doubt that Sir Alex Ferguson with the help of our coaching staff’s advice would not have made this decision lightly. After all, it’s vitally important for any successful team that you have a good goalkeeper so they obviously must have alot of confidence and belief that they’ve made the right decision.
As the boss put it himself when asked about the news regarding De Gea last night: ‘We identified him [De Gea] quite a while back as one we should go for. He is very quick, (with) good composure, presence and an outstanding replacement for Van der Sar.
‘We were looking for the same type of qualities as Edwin, because the one great quality Edwin always had was his composure and organizational ability. With David De Gea, he is very similar that way.’
It will certainly be interesting to see how De Gea settles into the team who will no doubt welcome him in. With several Spanish-speaking players in the team, he shouldn’t have any problems regarding the language barrier.
Only time though will tell if signing him is the right thing, but for now let’s all look forward to seeing how he gets on. There will be pressure on him to do well, but pressure is something he’s handled before.
After all this is a guy who after making his debut for Atletico at only18, quickly became their first choice keeper, where he very quickly became a key component of their side Whose to say he can’t be a success at United?
By Adam Dennehey – @ADennehey87