De Gea secured the title at Fulham

David de Gea and Andy Carroll

Author: Doron

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As a season finishes, whilst Alex Ferguson is already looking ahead, planning and scheming for the next season, everyone else seems to obsess with what’s just happened. Players and moments are dissected, discussed and argued over to no end point. In an unprecedented move, I’m going to combine the two and explain just why David de Gea is the league’s best goalkeeper and point to the moment few realised that was the case.

It’s strange that despite scoring an abundance of goals and being an all-round hero this campaign, van Persie may not necessarily be the man a lot of Reds would choose as their player of the season. Unquestionably he’s one of the main factors in the title success but four other players come to mind when you consider the stand-out performers. Carrick and Ferdinand have both been rocks – consistent leaders whose error count must surely be limited to single figures. At the other end of the spectrum, Rafael’s asserted his position as arguably the best young right back in the game off the back of an immense season of courage, bravery, maturity and attacking threat.

The other man is the fluffy haired, dodgy bearded Spaniard in between the sticks. Much to the disappointment of my curiosity and guesswork, Fergie’s tombola has jarred and there is a clear first choice goalkeeper at the club now. Rightly so, too.

It was always going to take a while for him to adjust to life in England. As has been well documented, he came from quite a different goalkeeping culture and at 20, he’d have to learn. Some of his qualities became obvious in his first season – the full stretch saves, the speed off his line, the reflexes and the ability to pass a ball over distance with Scholesesqe accuracy. Growing up, physically and mentally would happen this season and then having done that he’d need to find some consistency in his performances.

Colours had been firmly nailed to various masts by certain members of the press. Some had written him off quite early in his United career and others had the decency to wait until his second season before doing so. He couldn’t win though. Goalkeeping experts started to blame him for goals that weren’t his fault – suggesting he should be coming for crosses when he’d probably made wise decisions to stay on his line. His case wasn’t helped by Lindegaard’s sporadic runs in the team… on the bench = transfer stories. United had allegedly lost patience with a young member of the playing staff; not something you’d ever really associate with the club (young Ravel being a rare exception).

Then, early into the new year, there was a two week spell that for me will not only be looked back on as the crucial point in de Gea’s United career, but can be pinpointed as the moment United entered into ‘ruthless champions’ mode.

Spurs away on the 20th January and Dempsey scores late on after a weak de Gea punch presents a chance for Lennon to get the ball back into the box. I say “weak punch” but with Vidic deciding to clatter into his goalkeeper, de Gea’s chances of turning a weak punch into anything other than a weak punch were slim. Post-match analysis descended into chaos as Gary Neville laid into de Gea and the papers followed suit. Neville, a former club captain and fan, has left his allegiances on the pitch when it comes to punditry and no one should expect him to never be critical of United but it felt like he’d gone too far on this one.

Fergie kept faith and rather than bowing to the media pressure and picking Lindegaard, he stuck with de Gea, refusing to agree with the numerous pundits and writers who’d now said he’d never adjust to football in England. The real problem with the reaction to Spurs was that the really negative words were being written by people who openly admitted to not watching him every week. The flappy punch was being made out to be a regular occurrence when in fact he’d not made an error for a good few months. It was being assumed he was an error-a-week goalkeeper, which, as we know, was far from the truth.

Jumping to the near present and West Ham away, six days ago, has been cited by many as the game de Gea arrived because he got clattered by Andy Carroll whilst in the process of making a good punch. That it took such an event for people to take note of de Gea’s transformation only adds to the theory that the criticism post-Spurs came loudest from those who’d watched him the least.

Maybe not to the same degree of force but de Gea had been clattered a fair few times in 2013 and few United fans would have suggested before last Wednesday that his coming for crosses was still an issue. His starting position, judgement of the ball, confidence to come through players and general authority (notably vocally) had all been at a satisfactory level for a good few months.

In fact if you were to pinpoint the game he really marked his territory at the club, it was probably no less than two weeks after that Spurs game and coincidentally, was probably the game that many would have started to believe that this was to be our season.

The first game of February came three days after a very unconvincing midweek win over Southampton. Despite a very complete performance at Fulham last season, it is a tricky place to go to and as such, Fergie had brought back into the team Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Cleverley, Valencia and Nani after they were rested a few days earlier. Not helped by a power failure, it had taken United until the 79th minute to conjure up a winner but the stats show that de Gea was the busier of the two keepers on the night.

The thing with being a United goalkeeper is that whatever you do, the chances are everyone will be talking about goals scored at the other end. And hence on this occasion Rooney’s winner and the power failure were topics of conversation more so than de Gea’s wondrous save from Bryan Ruiz. If Ruiz scores, which he probably would have done had the majority of other goalkeepers in the league been in goal, the complexion of the game changes and a United win could easily have been a United draw.

Moments of goalkeeping brilliance from de Gea aren’t limited to just the Fulham game but it stands out more than any other because of what followed. United had only kept back to back league clean sheets once before Fulham but it triggered a run of six in a row that started an unstoppable and inevitable march towards last night’s joyous scenes.

Sure, the last couple of months have been painful to watch at times but the relentless grinding out of results built upon a solid defensive foundation has characterised a period in many a title win. Whether the defence have instilled confidence in de Gea or his performances and growing stature has aided them is unclear but both scenarios are probably applicable.

It may not go down as the most memorable period of games in the season, nor will any of the games themselves be recollected for anything more than Kagawa’s hat-trick or Rafael’s rocket; but it was a classic spell for a United goalkeeper – clean sheets, top saves and minimal fuss – just how Fergie likes it. Even with the defeat at home to City, United haven’t looked back since that day at Craven Cottage and yet it could have all been so different. David de Gea has truly made his mark as the league’s outstanding goalkeeper and at 22, he’s only just getting started.

GIF of said save – courtesy of Beautifully Red

10 Comments on De Gea secured the title at Fulham

  1. well written mate.i have been banging on bout de gea since i first saw him play. people have thought i was mad but im not.
    cant wait till the media start eating there words

  2. Fair play to the lad, he’s come on heaps and bounds. He’s improved his game, got stronger and is now our #1 without a doubt! Looking forward to many more years watching DDG between the sticks. Just hope he doesn’t fuck us off for either madrid or Barca anytime soon.

    Player of season for me – RvP. Carricks been great don’t get me wrong but midfielders and especially

  3. Dont think in my 30 odd years of watchin football i’ve seen a keeper make so many finger tipped saves, the guy must have instantly extending arms.
    Long may he continue with us.

  4. You haven’t mentioned his tendency, early this season, to weakly knock the ball in front of the on-coming striker (goal from Sturridge and Michu come to mind).

    His best performance came against Madrid. Perhaps, because he was back in him home country against Athletico Madrid’s biggest rivals.
    He hasn’t looked back since.

  5. Great article, Doron. I’ve been a fan of De Gea’s ever since the first time I saw him in person (Atleti vs. Barcelona, February 2010) — even writing on our website during that year that I believed De Gea should be the one to take over for VDS. I think you hit the nail on the head with your conclusion that the people who criticized De Gea the most watched him the least…. One other thing you might look into: if you counted how many times De Gea played with Rio and Vida in front of him, I’ll bet it was likely less than 10x before the last month or so — a constantly rotating cast of characters in front definitely meant it took longer for the kid to find his sea legs….

  6. Fair play to the lad, he’s come on heaps and bounds. He’s improved his game, got stronger and is now our #1 without a doubt! Looking forward to many more years watching DDG between the sticks. Just hope he doesn’t fuck us off for either madrid or Barca anytime soon.

    Player of season for me – RvP. Carricks been great don’t get me wrong but RvP is just on a whole different level. Playing upfront is a tough position. U hardly see the ball in some games and when u do u have to take your chances. Its not an easy position that’s for sure. Confidence plays a big role for strikers as well. When ther’re not scoring goals they can look like average players. Carricks role is probaly the easiset role one can have on a football pitch. You see a lot of the ball – which gives you confidence. His role is simple really. Receive the ball and pass to a player that can create something. Interceptions are also part of the package when it comes to Carrick and he does this superbly. He works hard there’s no doubt about it! He gives everything and is hardly ever injured which is a huge bonus for us. He’s always available and even though he’s in his 30’s he’s available to play twice a week every week with no problems. Credit to the lad. BUT if he wants to be remembered at this club he’s going to have to take his game to a whole new level. Scoring goals needs to become a part of his game. He has to chip in with at least 10 a season.he’s not doing that at the moment. Killer passes like the one we say last night from Wazza to RvP over the top, another one from Wazza to Valencia for the first goal…passes like that. Scholes esque. You hardly see Carrick playing those type of balls over the top. Yes Carricks played some great passes and through balls this season. That one to Hernandez sticks out but he has to play more balls like that, and play them well take his game forwards…

    Players that have been great for us this season – Rio, DDG, Rafael, Evra and I’ll add hernandez to that list as well. He’s done incredibly well. He doesn’t get much gametime but when he’s played, he’s delivered. Fair play to him. Not easy. Evans was superb for first few months – injuries hamper his progression though.can’t think of any others. Vidic has been unreal since he’s come back to be fiar. Looks back to his best. He’s an absolute beast. He’s fearless that lad and he’s the best defender in the air in the world in my opinion. Besides for those players mentioned, the rest have been pretty woeful to be fair, inconsistent etc. Players like cleverley, ando, nani, valencia just couldn’t get going this season. Smalling, jones have struggled with injuries and are simply sicknotes it can be siad. Welbeck done fine imo. He’s been played out of position most season and hasn’t scored the goals everyone expect him to. He’s pure quality is super dan. I’m a massive fan of his. Hope things are better for him next season. Not Waynes best season by any means. He’s still been instrumental for us to be fair. Still a great player. Scored some nice goals and I’m sure if rvp was still at arsenal, wayne would be our top scorer. He’s a forward and that’s where he’s at his best. Up front. Its been tough for him. I know he’ll stay though. Fans need to back the lad. He is quality there’s no doubt about it. Get behind the player. Simples. Hmm forgot about good old shinji. Injury has hampered his progression but when he’s played he’s been great. From that 1st game I saw him play for us on pre season, I knew he was a player. A quality footballer. He’ll be vital for us in the next few years. Just hope he finds a position and saf sticks to it. Too many players fighting for so few positions ie shinji, wazza, welbz, chicha.

    Pleased we’ve won the league. Its all I wanted at the beg of season. Anything more would have been a bonus. All I want now is for SAF to wake aup and smell the coffee and buy a central midfielder.

    Cheers to 20. Great to silence those noisy neighbours and go 2 ahead of the dippers!

    Roll on next season. MUFC OK!

  7. Was a joy to watch Scholes at the beg of season. Pitty injury struck but let’s hope we get to see the legend one last time before he prob retires at end of season. Giggsy’s done fine. What a guy. 2 legends! Still makes me feel sick knowing Giggs shagged his bros wife for 8 years and on top of that, that tart imogen thomas as well. Unbelievable. He’ll probably go down as our greatest ever player and…….

  8. Van De Gea, deserves the honour truly. Some world class saves are now recorded on his back!

  9. De Gea is magnificient. A lot of people in England want him to fail even now, journalists will keep on harping about what a liability he is but there is something they keep forgeting : talent will always make the difference.

    England’s kick and rush culture will doom them to oblivion. The game has moved on and England’s FA still refuses to acknowledge that. Look at France and Germany : their younger players are now actually able to compete with Spain on an international level. De Gea is a monster in the making and I am glad that he has finally gotten a title to his name. That will bring him confidence. Hopefully from now Smalling, Jones and Evans will be the ones in defence permanently.

    Van Persie has obviously been great but the shocking thing is the game-time Hernandez got, given the number of goals he has scored. That tart Welbeck got a lot more starts and appearances as a sub for a grand total of 2 goals. Bambi on ice springs to mind. In 2 seasons with us he still hasn’t learnt how to finish off a move and gives more the impression that he will somehow miss an open-goal from 2 yards out. He has actually done that more often than not this season. Hopefully Sir Alex ends the nonsense and just lets players who actually contribute stay in the team.

    Carrick has been consistent this season, but Anderson and Nani will be gone. Both are ridiculously inconsistent and while the talent is undeniably there, they just won’t make it. Despite being so badly inconsistent, Nani somehow scored more goals than Valencia and Young combined so you have to wonder why our wingers are so bad in the first place… All 3 can be sold if we can break the bank to get Gareth Bale, as he would add some actual explosiveness in our wing-play. Cleverley and Kagawa will get more game-time as advanced midfielders, those two have tremendous potential, especially Kagawa.

    We can definitely improve a lot more as a team. Right now, we are a championship-winning team but not a cup-winning team. Our strength is in our consistency over a season, which wins you championship but not cups, where teams need to transcend themselves on a given night in a given match (as is the case in the CL pretty often). Until we don’t get a couple of players who can bring that X factor in cup games (or just one if we can get Van Persie to be on fire for a whole season), I believe that we will only ever win the Premier League on a regular basis.

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