Moments after Shane Long’s shot squirmed under the 6ft 4 frame of new Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea, during the West Brom game I was bombarded with text messages and tweets from people writing him off!
I agree that it was his second mistake in 2 games which cost United a goal but it didn’t cost the team a result on either of those occasions as we went to win both games. United paid £18.3m for the 20 year old, people say that this fee is too much.
If you look further than the fee, they have bought a goalkeeper who has huge potential and who many people within Spain think will be the next Spanish no.1 and I agree firstly he has to cement his place in England and he will do that by eradicating the mistakes.
Also when a club like Manchester United comes along for a talented player, clubs will always ask for a higher fee, plus it was common knowledge that United needed a goalkeeper to replace Edwin Van der Saar who retired at the end of last season.
De Gea is a fantastic goalkeeper in my eyes, I don’t watch much Spanish football, but it just seemed that whenever I did last year it was always Atletico Madrid, and before last season I always tried to watch him. As the story behind his rise from being third choice at Atletico and close to joining Wigan, to winning the Europa League with Atletico and joining the biggest club in the World is quite remarkable.
At the start of the 2009/10 season David was third choice behind Sergio Asenjo and Roberto. Their manager Quique Sánchez Flores didn’t see him in the first teams plans and was very close to letting him leave, since David joined United we have heard Roberto Martinez saying he nearly joined him at Wigan! An indifferent start from Asenjo and injury to Roberto meant that David De Gea made his Atletico debut aged 18 and also made his Champions League debut that season.
Atletico Madrid ended the season winning the Europe League beating Fulham in the final, with David an integral part of the side, and then stared in the Super Cup win over Inter Milan saving a Diego Milito penalty. He went on to play 57 times in La Liga over the 2 seasons he was a senior player at the club.
In United’s acquisition of De Gea they have watched him over a dozen times, firstly Sir Alex’s brother Martin went over to watch him play, then goalkeeping coach Eric Steele went over to have a look at him. United had the pick of the worlds top goalkeepers, and the search was narrowed down to David and Manuel Neur who is the current German number 1, who was at Schalke at the time and who gave United a problem in the Champions League Semi Final first leg. But Manuel made it clear he wanted to join Bayern Munich and stay in Germany.
One thing that is a fact is that Sir Alex Ferguson very rarely gets a signing wrong! He has made some bad buys but out of the number of players he has bought, namely Massimo Taibi, Kleberson, Liam Miller, Eric Djemba-Djemba and so on. But even Juan Sebastian Veron who at the time was one of the best players in the world struggled to find the form which made Sir Alex shell out £28m for him.
The one thing that get’s to me is that in the UK people like to see people fail, the media are a nightmare (it was the media who stopped Phil Scolari taking the England job). They wonder why there is a bad relation between players and reporters, well it’s the simple fact that they look to catch you out and if you show a little bit of bad form you’re on the back page being talked about being ‘past it’.
If you listen to football experts from different countries and journalist’s they won’t run pieces like our country do after a bad performance or a mistake, they make our ‘experts’ look very unprofessional. After David De Gea’s performance on Sunday, not one paper said on Monday morning: ‘give him time, he will a great player, he needs to adapt.’ Not one, they were writing him off as not being good enough!
Guillem Balague who is a highly well-respected Sky Sports reporter who covers Spanish football was speaking after the WBA game, and he said that by the end of the season De Gea will be being spoke about in the top 3 ‘keepers in the country, this is a man who has watched his development from his debut not 180 minutes of his Manchester United career.
People forget or don’t remember that when Peter Schmeichel joined the club he started off in the same form, made a few big mistakes and he went on to do alright out of the game.
The one thing I think David will have to improve on is his build, he will need to get stronger as when coming for crosses and balls in the air he will have to look after himself when playing against people like Didier Drogba and Kenwyne Jones. And once his English improves communication will become easier and you’re see why Fergie paid out so much money for him.
By Jonathan Hil-Dunt @jonathandunt
For those of you unaware of Jonathan, he’s a goalkeeper playing Semi-Professional football for Prestatyn in the Welsh Premier League and we hope his unique views as a player will come across well in his articles for WAFU.