Gary Neville has handed David de Gea a place in his Premier League team of the season.
The Spaniard has enjoyed his finest campaign in a Man United shirt so far, claiming a total of 21 clean sheets in all competitions so far this season.
He is on course to claim the ‘Golden Glove’ for the first time this season, and deservedly so: no keeper has made such a monumental impact on their club’s Premier League results as De Gea.
Unsurprisingly, De Gea has been included as the only Man United player in Neville’s team of the season along with a series of Manchester City players.
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Rene Meulensteen recently shed light on a conversation he had with Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of United’s 2007/08 double winning campaign that had a transformative effect on the Portuguese’s attitude on the pitch.
He made note of Ronaldo’s tendency to kick and scream upon being hacked down by defenders, losing his rag and focus in the process, and told him he needed to think of tennis players Bjorn Borg and Roger Federer. Both were famously ice cold, hardly even sweating, totally unruffled by the opponent. Once you enter that mindset and maintain it at the height of battle, Meulensteen emphasised, your opponents will realise that kicking you doesn’t work. They will have nothing to go on.
And it would not be an overstatement to suggest that this story has parallels with De Gea. Nobody in this United team personifies that ice cold approach better than the Spaniard. The man looks like his heart rate doesn’t even change during games.
His teammates have to take it as inspiration. De Gea is the only player to deliver consistently over a nine month period this season. And the way he conducts himself on a daily basis and on the pitch has to be something even renowned winners like Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba have to aspire to.