De Gea trouble nothing if not predictable

David de Gea’s difficult start in English football is, of course, a lesson in predictability. Errors against both Manchester City in the Community Shield and West Bromwich Albion on Sunday in the Premier League have brought concerned looks from teammates and critical reviews from the nation’s media.

Neither comes as a surprise, with the former Atlético de Madrid goalkeeper barely out of his teens, ensconced in a Manchester hotel and struggling with the language. Focus for even the most experienced player moving team and country is hard to achieve; in a difficult position and in the media’s full glare de Gea’s early-season errors are certainly forgivable.

That the 20-year-old Spaniard is the subject of sarcastic headlines, knee-jerk reaction and character assassination is little more than par-for-the-course from a British media obsessed with negativity.

Indeed, on the season’s eve Sir Alex Ferguson warned that de Gea will require patience, a statement incorrectly interpreted as a lack of faith in the 20-year-old in some quarters. Nothing could be further from the truth with Manchester United having followed the Spanish Under-21 international for months before choosing de Gea ahead of more experienced rivals. In doing so Ferguson bought raw talent that will take time to adjust to a new country, style of football and the pressure inherent at Old Trafford.

Little surprise then that the 69-year-old Scot should back de Gea now, after the Spaniard failed to deal with Eden Džeko’s long-range effort at Wembley, while allowing Shane Long’s tame shot under his body on Sunday.

“He is young. He will learn. He will come through,” said the United boss, who is unlikely to drop de Gea in favour of Anders Lindegaard for Tottenham Hotspur’s visit in a weeks time.

“David’s concentration cost him the goal. It was a slack goal to lose but it is an experience for the lad. I couldn’t believe he never got a free-kick in the second-half. The aerial assault on him was ridiculous. It was the same when Peter Schmeichel came. They punished him in his first few games against Leeds and Wimbledon. They have him a real torrid time.

“In the second-half today David he was targeted a bit. Not necessarily physically but there were a lot of challenges that should have been free-kicks but the referee decided to play on. He took a battering in the second half, when he should have been protected more by the referee but he wasn’t. Welcome to English football!”

There is little chance that Ferguson will drop de Gea for Spurs’ visit given the damaging effect to the player’s confidence that omission would surely bring. But the United coach is faced with deploying a hugely inexperienced back-four against the Londoners with injuries beginning to bite. Rio Ferdinand’s hamstring strain will keep the 32-year-old on the sidelines for at least six weeks, while captain Nemanja Vidić is out for a fortnight with a trapped nerve. With Patrice Evra also on the sidelines United completed Sunday’s match fielding a defence aged just 20.6 on average.

That inexperience – both in age and games played for the club – will face sterner tests than that of West Brom, a good side though Roy Hodgson has produced over the past six months. Following Spurs’ visit next Monday, United face trips to Bolton Wanderers and Stoke City, with home matches against Arsenal and Chelsea to come before Ferdinand returns. Life is unlikely to become any easier for United’s callow new goalkeeper.

Yet in analysing de Gea’s competitive performances to date it is also easy to overstate the player’s errors and ignore his many qualities. True, two goals have been scored which most ‘keepers at the highest level would expect to stop. The Madrid-born stopper also made two excellent saves at Wembley in the second period and a similar number at the Hawthornes. Add smart distribution to the list and de Gea’s raw talent is not in doubt.

Physically Ferguson team will work with the player, much as Javier Hernández endured a specialised weight training course for six months last season. However, those denizens of the long-ball at the Britannia Stadium will note West Brom’s attempts to rough-up de Gea on Sunday. Referee Stuart Jones studiously ignored three clear fouls on United’s number one in the Midlands; Ferguson will hope de Gea is offered better support in the weeks and months to come.

Questions of physique aside it the mental side of the Spaniard’s game that is of greatest concern to Ferguson now. The unflappable personality so highly praise by the Scot when de Gea officially signed in July will be tested severely in the coming weeks.

It is cliché but also a truism that at Old Trafford talent only goes so far. Behind the scenes Ferguson and goalkeeping coach Eric Steele will be working to rid the player of fear – another great requirement for any United player.

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Comments

  1. Zombie Cucumber says

    I agree completely, although I’ll be surprised if the comments that follow me are not dominated by whiners.

    De Gea is a great keeper in the making. He’s let in a couple soft goals, but none of them have cost us a match. he’s also made some brilliant saves and as you pointed out, his distribution is terrific.

    The two worst things that could happen now are being benched for Lindegaard, or listening to the Chicken Little portion of the fan base, so many of whom are commenters on this site.

    He’s good. The team is good. We’re going to win the League again.

  2. Jumping Jesus says

    I also agree. I have no doubts whatsoever that De Gea is going to be a world class keeper. Any so-called fans who are casting doubts about his quality or even calling for him to be dropped are just showing their immaturity and complete lack of any knowledge of the game. Any young man who puts himself forward to be goalkeeper for United would have to be able to withstand infinate amounts of pressure anyway. What doesn’t beat you down makes you stronger and any mistakes he makes at this stage will just help forge him into the keeper he will become. I have 100% faith in him. He needs time to settle as all right-minded people knew he would and he will get it

  3. Godfrey says

    We were told to patient,hes just a kid and needs time..
    Moving both club and country espcially moving to England’s top flight is a big challenge…
    Its easy to start naming the misfits we’ve had on the position and draw the same comparisons but his talent gets overlooked.The media and pundits are already in to overdrive..
    His distributiion catches the eye and thats a every important facet fer us…
    Dont xpect the whining to stop though

  4. RobDiabloRobDiablo says

    I agree that it is too soon to decide that De Gea is another flop in goal, and he is certainly being unfairly targeted by a medium that is more about increasing readership in order to generate ad revenue than reporting news, but I really don’t understand why Sir Alex has let it come to this. For me, De Gea did not outplay Lindegard in the preseason and, so, has not won the job outright. I think Sir Alex should have started the season with Lindegard so that De Gea would have time to acclimatize to life in the UK and learn to speak enough English to communicate with his teammates. Now, to protect De Gea’s confidence – in the short term, Sir Alex is almost forced to start him against Spurs, which means that he will be facing a better opponent, behind a weakened defense, in front of a huge crowd on his Old Trafford debut – a potential recipe for disaster.

    • Will says

      Share your concerns, and agree about starting Lindegard first off. Nevertheless, Schmeichel started in dubious fashion too if I recall. De Gea has the ability.

  5. Jamie w says

    I agree with the comments mentioned. It’s a massive step up from atletico to the goldfish bowl of man utd and the premier league. He’s 20 years old and like any young player whatever position they may play will make mistakes. The time to worry would be if it became a consistent string of games. The problem with the two goals he conceded seemed to be that he reacted slowly to shots that were hit low. He also looked to struggle with the physicality of balls being played Into the area and trying to catch them. On the plus side, he’s displayed the ability to stop a few one on one shots and his distribution is spot on. these imperfections will be ironed out by Eric Steele and plenty of gym work to build him up along with a few physical games in the premier will make him stronger. Also with the attacking threat of our forward men and our counter attaching and bounceback ability, Rooney and co will compensate for any mistakes. I believe in the small portions of ability I’ve seen so far and I don’t think we’ve spent a year scouting this guy cos he’s a flop or a mediocre player. This guy has talent and will prove to be a very good keeper with experience. So to all the impatient people out there, stop being so ridiculous and back the players.

  6. fazal says

    You’re right to point out how despicable the English media is! I saw of lot of De Gea playing for Athletico and Spain, he looked for confident and BIG in goal…you had the impression he covered the whole goal just standing up. Now he seems fragile, apprehensive, cautious…Life can be hard in a new place. Anyone who has gone abroad for studies or work will know that. It’s just those stupid English journalist have no intelligence to recognise that and no compassion whatsoever. Shame on them!! It;s as if they never make mistakes in their work, never screw around, never hurt anyone…they can all sod off with their holier than thou attitude…

  7. SKW says

    It’s too soon, but I have my doubts. Let’s remember that until we got Van Der Sar, we struggled with how many “next great United” keepers?

    More worrisome is the fact Rio lasted all of 75 minutes. Mark my words. He plays about 35 games this season.

  8. reddread says

    Glad to see people aren’t jumping on De Gea and writing him off already. We spent two years watching him, ascertaining whether he was the right keeper to go for to replace VDS, so he clearly wasn’t an impulse buy. His distribution is amazing and will only improve. He’s a good stopper when the ball is in the air. Yeah, he has made two errors that have led to goals that were both low shots and he didn’t set his feet in time for either of them. This is something that can be addressed by the goalkeeping coaches. He’ll learn, but he’ll have to learn fast to keep the media and the more fuckwitted United ‘fans’ off his back. I have every confidence that he will do just that and develop into a great keeper.

  9. Mongoletsi says

    You don’t win the UEFA (and also beat Inter in the Super) by being shit. Atletico are hardly a small team.

    He’ll be reet, just needs games, and maybe bulking up a bit. The only problem is how long this may take, and it’s gonna be tougher now Rio and Vidic are out.

  10. Ashish says

    I have confidence that De Gea will come good eventually.

    The problems he’s suffering at present have nothing to do with his lack of ability but have everything to do psychologically.

    Hopefully he can overcome that.

    But if,however in,say 2-3 months he’s still making similar mistakes……then we have got some special problems.

    We can win the premier league with a dodgy keeper since the level of opposition is very weak but it’s in Europe where we may be reeling.

  11. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Commenter said:
    I have confidence that De Gea will come good eventually.

    The problems he’s suffering at present have nothing to do with his lack of ability but have everything to do psychologically.

    Hopefully he can overcome that.

    But if,however in,say 2-3 months he’s still making similar mistakes……then we have got some special problems.

    We can win the premier league with a dodgy keeper since the level of opposition is very weak but it’s in Europe where we may be reeling.

    His record in Spain and Europe is what sold Ferguson… it’s the PL that’s his problem.

  12. Yang says

    Nothing new, Fan and Media suspect all of new players. Nani, Ronaldo, Fletcher and so on.

    Believe it or not all of players are destined to suffer bad time in his career. It is up to each players whether he can overcome it or not.

    So tough time for David come, hope he can survive.

    It looks like He didn’t predict shoot coming on so reaction is a bit late.

  13. Mongoletsi says

    // Will he cost us the title
    And when do you replace him with Lindegaard //

    When you use question marks :o)

  14. Julian says

    He’s young, very young for a keeper,comparatively slight of build, inexperienced in the English game and doesn’t speak the language. Why then couldn’t he have been eased into the team after a reasonable settling in period ? Why couldn’t Lindegaard have been given his chance in the meantime ?

  15. sheesh says

    The media will come out with all this shite about de Gea’s performance tonight. I thought he looked more solid than he has done in the last couple of performances. Playing behind such a fantastic back 4 obviously helped but his kicking and all-round distribution were very good.

    The media will keep picking on him relentlessly, though. Any slight misjudgment and they will tear him to pieces. Cunts.

  16. says

    Maarten Stekelenburg went to Roma for 5 million! Surely that would have been the smarter, less expensive and less risky signing? Hopefully De Gea will come good though.

  17. reddread says

    Guillem Balague, is a fucking cockend. I agree with him about De Gea, though. I am staggered that people are writing him off after two, two! competitive games. Ridiculous.

  18. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Yeah, well Fergie won’t remain friendly if he keeps making these sloppy mistakes.

    There were certain things, that he was expected to need to work on… his strength, command of his area in a physical game… that sort of thing… but letting balls slip under him, cause he was too slow to get down wasn’t one of them.

  19. baloobaloo says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Yeah, well Fergie won’t remain friendly if he keeps making these sloppy mistakes.

    There were certain things, that he was expected to need to work on… his strength, command of his area in a physical game… that sort of thing… but letting balls slip under him, cause he was too slow to get down wasn’t one of them.

    I refer my honourable friend to his own thread regarding chimpanzees…….

  20. baloobaloo says

    reddread said:
    De Gea seems to have the right attitude to the frankly ridiculous criticism he’s ben receiving. Seems impressed with United, too. Love how he was surprised at how friendly SAF is!

    http://gu.com/p/3xmf7

    Couldn’t agree more – the one thing that apparently impressed about him was his attitude and maturity. As long as he keeps his head, which seems to be his natural way, he’ll be top class. This will be a non-story by the end of the year – unless there’s journalistic mileage to come from the “brilliant De Gea forging ahead through a turbulent start to his career at United…” in typical media-whore fashion.

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