De Gea’s indifferent start not only down to his so-called ‘ineptness’

They think they’re experts. They think we think we’re the experts. “He’s rubbish!” they say. And us, the good ones – we think to ourselves – are summoned by our blind loyalty rational thinking to reply: “but he’s good … give him time.” And we repeat this until we get exhausted. “B-b-but he’s got adorable meerkat-like features! We all like meerkats!”

It’s been something like that for David de Gea. They’ve spotted a New Taibi. Taibi! Ha! Oh, what joy was Taibi! Let’s all make jokes about how Taibi could never catch a break – oops! But humour – or, arguably, lack of it – is not synonymous with reality. Let’s be clear, here; the criticism of David de Gea this season is justified. Of course, it is. He’s made mistakes. His flaws have been exposed. But the Spaniard has not been helped by negligence from the higher powers. The constant rotation of a £20million buy has beenbaffling; and nothing less.

He’s One For The Future, apparently, but that doesn’t quite explain why he’s chosen to play one game, and then not the next. If he’s going to be dropped in favour of Anders Lindegaard, then United have to make sure that the Dane is given a run of games – yet, it’s unclear that will even happen. The signs are distorted. Lindegaard might appear to be first choice now, but what’s to suggest he will he play the following week? Little. In fact, Lindegaard starting the FA Cup game against Liverpool would have been logical. Having some sort of rhythm is key to success – it has to be. Terry Venables has made two criminally out-of-tune World Cup anthems for England’s national team in recent times; yet he’s probably found more rhythm than either goalkeeper.

There’s the argument that those in management know what they’re doing. United are a well-run club and that’s never to be disputed in a general sense; but you feel this particular situation could have been handled better. This so-called “crisis” – and it isn’t that, not yet anyway – is thus partly self-inflicted. To go with that, de Gea has played 20 games with 13 different back fours; and we wonder why he hasn’t settled in yet? As it stands, his shaky start can be broken down into three: (1) partly his fault, (2) partly the club’s and (3) partly just wicked misfortune.

But this is all just theoretical. Perhaps, it doesn’t matter whether he has the same four players in front of him or not. Perhaps, the rotation policy has helped to spare his blushes – the less he plays, the better, you see. Perhaps, he’s just a bit rubbish. We all know that’s absurd, however. He’s very easy to jump at because he’s a virtual unknown to many; not all watch La Liga or care much for Atlético – and that’s fine. And he cost a lot. Nobody likes that, either. The media’s perverted fascination with Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres tells you this. And he plays for a big club. Any mistake – and there are quite a few – that talented goalkeepers such as Ali Al-Habsi or Michel Vorm make can easily be erased from memory with a wonderful point-blank range stop the minute after. De Gea does not have this luxury. Once he earns this reputation, there’s no turning back. Michael Owen, who is apparently the dirty work of a bunch of real-life Wind Up Merchants, summed it up well on his Twitter account: “The problem is, once you get labelled, mud sticks and now any tiny mistake is magnified.”

These factors have had an impact on the young ‘keeper. “He carried the body language of a player who is suffering a torrid time,” says Phil McNulty. “The sort of experience he has not had before.” And, there’s something quite sad about this. The collective laughs, jibes and sighs has quite clearly taken its toll. De Gea looks even more stricken, considerably more nervous now than he was at the beginning of the season, where, we seem to have forgotten, he played wonderfully well in chunks. His demotion – a temporary one for all we know – must have had an effect.

So, gradually, United fans are losing faith. The media men in their dark suits and sunglasses are taking glee from his mishaps: “We were right!” they bellowed, in unison, in the aftermath of Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Liverpool. They may well be. But there’s something missing in their reports. In their words, in their tweets, in their interviews. The failure to acknowledge the other factors. Managerial negligence, the overwhelming pressure that comes with the job and simple, cruel misfortune. Call it blind loyalty, but he’ll come good. Can a 20-year-old lose all his talent just like that? No, course not. I call this rational thinking.


22 responses to “De Gea’s indifferent start not only down to his so-called ‘ineptness’”

  1. Nick Wall says :

    Fine piece, and totally agree. As a goalkeeper, you need a run of games to get going, just like a striker does to get back on the scoresheet, or else you’ll never have that momentum.

    De Gea is obvioulsy talented – he has shown his quality in La Liga for Atletico. Now he’s at one of the biggest clubs in the world and, as you say, his mistakes are more highlighted by the media. Add the fact that he is only 21 and it has to be mentally tough for him.

    I’m a keeper myself (nowhere near pro standard!) and it is horrible when your confidence is low. Goalkeeper is the hardest position on the pitch, and there’s no hiding place for you.

    Sir Alex has to keep believing in him and hope he turns it round. He has precocious talent; he just has to prove it more often.

  2. Philip Gatt says :

    Brilliant article, and exactly what most of us United fans think.

    As you and Nick Wall stated, a keeper needs a consistent run in the team. It was said during the game that De Gea hadn’t played for quite a while before yesterday (can’t remember how long, I was too edgy to notice), that can’t help at this level.

    I suggested a while ago that he should be played in the reserves, apart from giving him extra minutes to gain confidence, it would also show him the physical side of the English game, and he’d become stronger and more capable to deal with certain situations.

    Well done on an excellent post, and here’s hoping that De Gea becomes what we know he can be sooner rather than later.

  3. Graham Walters says :

    How much time do you give an £18m player, especially a keeper ?

    De Gea doesn’t come for the ball at corners, he flaps at the ball, in one on ones he tries to save with his feet, he goes to ground too early.

    Take the Liverpool game, if he had gone for the ball Agger scored from, he may have got a foul, goal disallowed, he could have gone to Kuyt’s feet with his hands, or his body, he could have made himself big, but he made himself small going feet first.

    My suggestion would be to get him to sit in a room and watch a load or Peter Schemeichels saves, he might bloody learn something.

    Yes he has a lot to learn, but that takes time, at United you don’t have that time, Lindegaard, played less, settled in better, Anders should be No1

    • Ansser Sadiq says :

      Hes 21 mate. Even Casillas made howlers at 21 and was dropped from Real Madrid for a season. Keepers dont reach their peak till much later in their careers.

      We did not lose solely because of De Gea. Evra made a terrible mistake for the second goal and it is even more disappointing as he was the senior member of that back four.

      Do not be so quick to judge De Gea. Reserve judgement till next season when he has settled, gained some muscle, adapted to the league and he has a solid defense behind him (Vidic especially). Then we will see the real David De Gea.

      If anyone thought he would be perfect as he came in they were deluded. The mistakes were always going to happen. But he has also had fantastic games for the club. We only got a point at Anfield in the league because of his saves. Its easy to forget that and just criticize blindly.

  4. Simon says :

    Great peice, it must be hard for both the keepers as they never know who’s playing next, I’ve never seen such a rotation of keepers in the premier league.

  5. iDon says :

    He’s rubbish … Full stop

    • Bred Red says :


      Your post is RUBBISH!!

      The lad is now coming into his own with a string of fine saves. He’s good now, but in time this youngster will be great, whilst you iDon will always be rubbish.

  6. Sparkz says :

    Agreed he hasn’t been helped by certain selection decisions. For example, chucking him in at Anfield when he’s low on form, confidence and match fitness was a baffling decision by Sir Alex. I can understand if it was a home tie against lower league opposition, but Liverpool away? Really baffling.

    There’s also no doubting his talent and future potential. But goalkeeper is one position its hard to let someone “develop”. Because every mistake can be very costly, whereas that’s not usually the case in the outfield positions.

    As much as the media are gleefully sticking the knife into him…let’s be realistic. Its not the journalists that are flapping at crosses and gifting goals. Yes, he’s young and inexperienced..but Manchester United is a different kettle of fish to Atletico. You’re under pressure and mistakes will be highly scrutinised.

    De Gea’s errors at the start of the season were fine, because we got away with them. We still beat City in the Community Shield, and we still beat West Brom. He then looked very solid for a couple of months. However, since December there’s been a constant stream of mistakes that are proving FATAL (Benfica, Basle, Blackburn, Liverpool.) Your outfield players can’t bail you out every time.

    To be brutally honest, without blinkers on, De Gea’s was one of the main culprits in our exits from both the Champions League AND the FA Cup. And Fergie will not want him jeopardising our League chances as well. If you ask me, he’ll get very little game time between now and the end of the season, bar the Europa League maybe.

    What we should have done is signed him a year earlier. Let him adapt fully to England, and learn from Edwin (or maybe loan him?). But that would’ve required an extra few million in transfer fee I suppose, due to there being an extra year on his contract at Atletico.. and the Glazers were very tight fisted from 09-11.

    • Ansser Sadiq says :

      Agree with you that De Gea made errors and if he had not we might still be in the Champions League and FA cup, but lets face it. He is a 21 year old goalkeeper. There is NO 21 year old goalkeeper in world football that will not make mistakes at that age. Even the great Casillas had a period of time when he was in the Madrid team but then dropped following some disappointing displays. Just look at him now.

      De Gea has played behind a defense that has generally been even poorer than he has been. Even at Anfield, there were so many United players around De Gea and Agger but they did nothing. They were doing nothing to help De Gea or deal with the Liverpool players. That would never have happened if Ferdinand and Vidic were there.

      Even in the Champions League, many goals we conceded were due to the defense and not De Gea. His mistakes will be highlighted more due to him being a keeper but he is not the only one who deserves blame.

      Phil Jones has had plenty of horrible performances and made some ridiculous errors. Many times hes been out of position, turned easily, caught in no mans land but United fans still love him. He has that support and I just hope De Gea gets the same support.

      We cannot judge him until he gets 10 games in a row behind a defense that is more or less the same. He needs experience around him to flourish as well. It is hard to take VDS, Ferdinand and Vidic out of a defense and expect it to still be okay. As good as Smalling and Evans are, they are young and they are not the most commanding. They are not vocal and neither of them leads a defense. And neither does, I have to say, Patrice Evra. He was very anonymous at Anfield, for obvious reasons, but he was the one that had to be the leader in that back four which he was not. And ultimately we lost because of him not De Gea. He was sleeping when Kuyt scored and Kuyt should never have gotten in behind him.

      Its easy to blame the young Spaniard who looks lost at times, but it is unfair. Blame needs to be spread out to the whole team and to the senior players as well.

  7. Paul McDermott says :

    Excellent post. Call it blind loyalty or whatever but i am more nervous when Lindergaard is in goal. Having so many back four combinations defo wont help. Chopping and changing keepers is something that wont help. Pre season Fergie said DDG was his number 1 he should have just stayed with that.

    • Bred Red says :

      You said the word I can’t see anyone else has picked up on yet.

      See how he stood tall at Liverpool during the disgusting Suarez non- handshake. By his action at that one second in time this kid rose to the top of the pile. He is above all else LOYAL to his team and his team mates and he has integrity.

      Keep it up David, you will get there, in my 70 year old eyes you are already there.

  8. David says :

    Well said. I’ve seen Reina of Liverpool make worse mistakes than De Gea. Less is said of those; if not nothing at all. He’s been picked on obviously.

  9. Ashwin Venkat says :

    Very good piece once again from you. As long as he doesn’t get a consistent run in the team and also doesn’t have a settled defence, he can have a tough time. Certainly us having the makeshift defence hasn’t helped him. But he’ll come good.

    De Gea certainly has great potential. I’ve seen lot of him in La Liga and those who think he is finished are going to be in for a huge regret. I’ve never seen any GK have a better breakthrough season in their career than what he had with Atletico Madrid.

    Also, his style is more conducive to a passing game which plays out from the back (his distribution too being so accurate) therefore I would lean towards giving him more games over the course of the season.

  10. justin mottershead says :

    Great article, couldn’t agree more, although I do wish you wouldn’t quote that boring clueless scouse clown Phil McNulty.

  11. Ansser Sadiq says :

    Agree with this article. De Gea has made plenty of mistakes but he has also made plenty of blinding saves and he’s had some really terrific games. The last time we were at Anfield he was the sole reason we got a point from that game.

    In fact, while his initial errors were certainly down to his own nervousness, I think that his performances now are more down to Sir Alex and his “rotation” of goalkeepers. The last time De Gea played they conceded 3 against Blackburn and it was a disappointing loss. Lindegaard got his place and also played in the huge game at the Emirates. He played well there, so why was he not involved vs Liverpool?

    It makes no sense to rotate two YOUNG goalkeepers this much. If De Gea is the one for this season in the big games coming up, he should have been given the game time to get all the kinks/nervousness out of his game. Of course he will be nervous if he is thrown into the Anfield pressure cooker after not having played for weeks. He is not like Giggs or Scholes who have seen everything and can turn it on even if they spend weeks on the sidelines.

    Similarly, if Lindegaard is the one Sir Alex thinks can handle this season, he should play every game now. Maybe De Gea can get Europa League run outs and he can focus on developing himself for next season. This is the manager’s decision but he has to make a decision. Rotating keepers is simply making things worse, especially for De Gea. He is 21, in a new country and in a new league. He needs some form of stability, at least in terms of team selection.

    And comparing him to Taibi or even the likes of Roy Carroll is crazy. He’s made saves those two could not even dream of. The one he closest resembles is Tim Howard who is a great keeper but makes plenty of mistakes. However De Gea is a lot younger than any of those keepers were when they came and he has the potential to become the best in the world in his position. I just hope it is at United.

  12. Ansser Sadiq says :

    I also think this is not the first time Sir Alex has mismanaged a player he has signed that has not done well initially. In fact, he regularly gets into these situations.

    Veron was signed for 28 million and stuck on the left flank for most of his United career. Of course he was going to fail. He is not a left midfielder and was never going to be a success there. The few times he was actually given a leading role to control the team in central midfield he shone and put in some great displays.

    The same could have been said for Diego Forlan. He had a horrible start to his career at United but got in scoring form. However he was regularly left out and benched in favor of just van Nistelrooy up front and he never managed to get any consistency of game time.

    While some players such as Solskjaer do not mind being on the bench and they still seemed to play well, others need consistent runs in the team. Especially if they come from a foreign country and need adapting to the Premier League.

    I hope the same does not happen with De Gea. He needs support from the fans and from his teammates but most importantly from the manager. I do not think he is a liability. He is playing in front of a back four that has no experience. There is no Vidic to lead the defense and Ferdinand even when he does play does not seem to be the vocal, dominating presence he used to be. That makes it even harder for him. But he will come good if given the chance. That means putting him in the team and telling him that he has got until the end of the season to establish himself as United’s number one. While he may cost us a point or two now and then, he will save us plenty of points as well. He could be our keeper for the next 15 years if we are good with him. So I hope everyone at the club and the fans can think long term and help De Gea become as good as his potential shows.

  13. Si says :

    Great article, Think the lad just needs to bulk up a bit in the gym. If he was stronger and more imposing he’d fill the goal better and look more daunting coming out for corners.

  14. val says :

    De Gea has really been hopeless. And I said that after his first game for United where he let in a horrible long range goal that was slow and not near the post. The criticism has not been strong enough in my opinion and Ferguson has gone far too out of his way to give De Gea every chance. He has most likely personally cost United the title this year. You cannot keep him in the team to get experience when he’s performing badly, that’s not fair on the club or the fans. He’s made at least 6 serious errors you’d expect van der sar to have dealt with comfortably, with a few more that VDS may have saved like a player hitting a penalty 5/6 times to the left, so De Gea dives to the right and surprise surprise, the taker hits it to the left. Researching opposition penalties is such a basic thing by now that I cannot believe that United coaches did not do it, it’s most likely De Gea just went on instinct instead.

    I don’t see anything De Gea will be great at and you cannot really know if a keeper will be great (which is a minimum at United, “good” is not adequate) at 30 when they are 20. He may never become good at long ranged shots or dealing with crosses. Lindegaard has yet to make a serious mistake on the other hand. His 3 goals at newcastle, 2 of them for sure not his fault, and the other he probably would have saved 50% of the time and got unlucky. Based on what fans have access to, Lindegaard should absolutely be first choice. It could very well be that De Gea is great in training but doesn’t handle the pressure well in a match. In 5 minutes of training you see more of a goalkeeper than in 90 minutes of a match, so the fans really aren’t well enough informed to criticise how United have managed a player.

    • utdweekly17 says :

      He hasn’t been hopeless, exaggeration much? The funny thing is, you’re treating this issue as though de Gea hasn’t improve since he came into England. I watched a lot of games of de Gea with Atletico Madrid and he struggled to deal with shots outside the box; the same applied with Manchester United in the first couple of weeks, but he did improve and his reflexes are second to none, better than Lindegaards. Personally, he has cost us goals, but the blame can’t solely be put on him, it’s kind of getting old and boring – using de Gea as a scapegoat, if you like.

      With time, he is going to improve further and make himself much more prominent. He will, hopefully, be imposing and assured at the back – and command his area. I can see a lot more, but I simply don’t get pessimistic fans like you…

  15. JizlWiz says :

    I don’t agree. Liverpool’s confidence in the latter stages of a game they had till the last 20 mins played no real part in stemmed from De Gea’s clear vulnerability. I’ve said it before and I still think it – he looks gormless, doesn’t command his area and therefore encourages the opposition.

  16. Yusuf Salisu says :

    I dont know why Fans does not voice out what David done Clearly but voice out only His mistake . And that aint justice we the Fans must fut more grease to His elbow

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