Up until the Liverpool game, I have defended our young Spanish shot-stopper. For a 20-year old goalkeeper to waltz into the Size 14’s (estimation) that the great Edwin Van Der Sar left behind without teething issues was an unenviable task and from progress thus far, an indomitable one too. David De Gea has struggled since his United inception and shows no signs of settling in what is an entirely new environment for him, much to the utter dismay of United fans as the British media dig their teeth in. I didn’t feel obliged to write an article about him because I am a patient fan – I know that David De Gea is our future in goal and I know that it will take him time to establish himself but after seeing Ben Amos’ name on the starting line-up last night against Stoke, I felt obliged.
From his very first game in goal in the Community Shield, David De Gea has been slaughtered by anyone and everyone for any mistake he made and he quickly found himself in the stocks with the British press and punditry. It is his inconsistency that has, unfortunately, held him back from stamping his claim on the number one jersey at United so far this season as well as the extremely impressive form that Anders Lindegaard has shown when he has been given the chance. However, with Anders Lindegaard out with rumoured ligament damage, now could potentially be the time where De Gea ups his game and takes advantage of his absence.
I was listening to Five Live yesterday when Martin Keown described De Gea as “an outfield player going into goal” – although crude, Keown is right in some respects. David De Gea seems to always have his feet planted in such a way that he is easily muscled off the ball, from corners and set pieces most notably, and it has left United extremely vulnerable in that respect. When combined with the fact that both first choice centre-backs are injured, it does not bode well for us. One only has to take a look at the Liverpool and Newcastle games from recent memory to see De Gea’s lack of presence in and around the box that opponents are targeting and taking advantage of. He came from the glamour of La Liga where players bamboozle eachother with glamorous stepovers and wonderful tricks but he is now in the Premier League which has spawned the Crazy Gang, Roy Keane and Patrick Viera over the years – the sooner he realises this the better. He has not adapted his game enough yet and it is obvious for all to see but the most glaring difference comes in the simple presence that he has and how he can control the defence in front of him.
Something that is noticeably poor with David De Gea is his distribution. When I watched him play in the U21 Championships this summer, he hardly ever kicked the ball long as he passed sideways for fun with his Spanish teammates. However, at United, he always seems to be looking to get the move started with a 40-yard Hollywood pass instead of looking sideways. This may well be to do with the fact that he does not have enough confidence in his defenders to pass them the ball but that is exactly what he needs to have – what success is a defence going to have if the goalkeeper and defenders can not trust eachother wholly? None. He needs to calm down with his distribution and start playing the simple ball more often.
The clear lack of presence David has in goal is exacerbated by the fact that we had Edwin Van Der Sar in goal prior to his arrival, a goalkeeper who oozed pizzazz, effortlessly and consistently, as he barked at his defence and simply dominated his six yard box – it was his and nobody was going to change that. The language barriers may not help De Gea but they are not an excuse and between now and the end of the season, he has to put a lot of leg work in to win over some dismayed United fans let alone the British Press. With Ben Amos impressing last night against Stoke, who is to say that David’s demotion will not continue into the Chelsea game? I don’t personally think that will happen and the cynic in me is simply ignoring any claims that De Gea is “ill or otherwise injured” as we all know it is just SAF protecting his players as he knows best. Only time will tell whether De Gea is the new Taibi or the new Edwin but he was my out-and-out first choice to come to Old Trafford this summer and my stance has not changed, I just hope that he matures quickly and starts to show the promise that brought him to Old Trafford in the first place.