All the lights are flashing on De Gea …
- Manchester United’s new shot-stopper was brought in to avenge the legacy instilled between the sticks at Old Trafford by Dutch custodian Edwin Van Der Sar.
- Albeit it’s his first two games on the job, the Spaniard has conceded 3 goals and has already been slaughtered.
So David de Gea did it again. He conceded another goal. Oops. It seems this season he will never get a break, and it is the continuous criticism slapping him on the face for the concession of a goal that makes his potential to be a great goalkeeper in the future, at Atletico Madrid ‘magically disappear’. Signing for Manchester United in an £18million deal, is also the perfect way to banter on to other United fans, every time he concedes a goal – or so it seems. Drawing comparisons so early to Massimo Taibi.
His debut against Manchester City in the FA Community Shield didn’t go to plan. Two goals going into the back of the net, following a goal from Joleon Lescott and Edin Dzeko left him and the defence dumbfounded. It was only the recovery from that two-goal deficit (thank you Nani) that relieved some of the pressure from his broad shoulders. Now, in his league debut for the club, he has already had that pressure put back on him – causing a huge ruckus. All the lights so far are flashing on David de Gea and they won’t go away until he either proves them wrong or puts on a spectacular string of performances consistently enough to shut everyone up.
So he conceded a goal on his debut?
Not every goalkeeper that a team buys will suddenly become “Superman of the Goal”. It doesn’t work like that. Especially when you’ve just peaked 20 and now playing in arguably one of the (if not, the …) best league in the world. Let’s also add the other factors of being foreign, having the price tag of £18million on your head, playing against your biggest local rivals on your debut and lastly having only a couple weeks to know your team-mates. Oh sure, we have Joe Hart, Pepe Reina and Petr Cech as City’s, Liverpool’s and Chelsea’s main goalkeepers and they have been at their clubs long enough to become acquainted with their team-mates and be bought for less than half of what De Gea was. All of them may have not conceded goals on their debuts, but they are still human and they have made mistakes in the past. Examples? Okay:
When Liverpool were hosted by Merseyside rivals Everton in the league, 2006. The Toffees were leading by two goals to nil, and a shot from Thomas Gravesen, outside of the box, thundered off Reina’s hands and into the air. It had dropped down close to the goal, only for him to try and punch it out but resulted in Andy Johnson scoring late with a header in the 93rd minute and wrapping up the game for 3-0. This was five games into the 2006-07 season. This was when Reina was 23 years old, which is still young for a goalkeeper.
If I’m not mistaken, had that been De Gea, would he not have a lot of flak coming his way? Would he not have that video stuck on him like glue? Perhaps, but also that he will get better over time. Some may say that the Reina comparison is nothing near because:
- He had already played a season; De Gea is in his first.
- Reina was three years older than De Gea.
- Everyone makes mistakes, and Reina did there too.
- Reina had Benitez to help him with the language, as they are both Spanish.
But even if, or so what? You can be at a club for x amount of seasons, won y amount of awards and be the best in the land. When you make that mistake, you shouldn’t be instantly belated and your accolades stolen from you. Goalkeepers are far different from outfield players and very rarely now do you have clubs buying and selling world class keepers like they are toys. Look at Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas. One was bought for a staggering £32.6million (according to reports) and the other rose through the ranks at one of the best clubs in the world. They are both world-renowned and will stay that way until they retire. Even in the knowledge of Casillas that he will not be retiring from the game until his mid-to-late 30’s, and possibly going into his 40’s if he still feels the need to uphold the honour of his club and country for any longer. And let me set your mind back 20 years ago, when Peter “The Great Dane” Schmeichel was starting out for Sir Alex. Back then, the Crazy Gang that were of Wimbledon were no strangers to aggression in the box and that they did rough up Peter. What happened? Part of the UEFA Champions League winning team of 1999, and a memorable night against our German counterparts.
But De Gea will need confidence
He may not have the strong character that Schmeichel did to rise from the ashes, but there will be times where he can show confidence. Time will tell. At times, one can say that De Gea in goal isn’t the most confident person on the pitch, nor the most communicative. After watching his performance against West Brom, you could see that at times he was struggling to talk to the back line of United, and even with the substitutions of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, it didn’t help his case either. Even during a set-piece, Shane Long elbowed him. Now, again, I am not defending De Gea on that account, but it was the same sort of thing that happened to Schmeichel in the past, back in the early 1990’s.
There is no question that Sir Alex and his backroom staff at United, as well as the people around him at Old Trafford will do anything and everything in their power to help him surge through the Premier League season with learning curves, steps and progression in reaching that £18million worth of potential that we bought him for in the first place. He has a tutor that he is working with regularly, so hopefully soon enough he will be able to do an interview with decently-spoken English. If we’re lucky enough, Van Der Sar will come back to the club as a coach and actually help him, and become almost like a mentor. Hey, we all have dreams.
If he can conjure up that confidence, through playing matches, communicating better and feeling a lot closer, with his team-mates, then he can almost 100%-guaranteed become a great goalkeeper for the next 20 years or so. That’s the target that most have in mind for him and it would not be difficult to see that from him. Many fans have belief in their new goalkeepers, regardless of how much they were bought for, where they come from and whatever. They look at their games, their progression and what they do on the pitch socially and physically that determines how good they are or not. Hasn’t the same been done at Arsenal for Wojciech Szczesny? The Polish goalkeeper? The fall of Manuel Almunia in being the first-choice goalkeeper led to the 21-year-old being pushed into the first-team by Arsene Wenger and is now proving himself to be a good one too. He is starting to be considered by Poland’s head coach in Franciszek Smuda in the run-up to EURO 2012, as the country automatically qualifies by virtue of being hosts of the tournament, co-existing with Ukraine.
So give him a couple years, and then judge him
Because all of this “Player X > De Gea” is tiring. Boring even. We know that De Gea isn’t amongst the best goalkeepers in the world, but we didn’t buy him for £18million just to concede goals. No. Even Manuel Neuer, for Bayern Munich will get a lot of flak because he was bought for a substantial amount and will make mistakes and that is unquestionable.
I will have faith in for a while and it will take a lot to stir that. I just want people to acknowledge that the lights flashing on De Gea are only because they want him to not live up to the potential that he has – or at least most of that is. Point and claim to the fact that not all goalkeepers have amazing debuts and only polish the reasons why they were bought by their clubs, but if it were to be the same for De Gea, would people still be the way that they are now? Probably, but 10 games will not be enough. More than that, and much more to actually watch what he does will eventually give people the ability to judge him. Of course, a lot of goalkeepers are ahead of him now, but that could in a couple years be false. Who knows, we will just have to wait and see.