As soon as Edwin van der Sar confirmed that he would be retiring at the end of last season, fears were raised that it`d take Sir Alex Ferguson time to find a replacement of the stature of the Dutchman.
Perhaps those fears were based on the calamity that befell United when Peter Schmeichel called it a day, a succession of keepers were recruited who bore no resemblance to the Great Dane when it came to his presence, composure and skills between the sticks.
It appeared to be a potential problem that Sir Alex was prepared to quash in its infancy. The signing of Anders Lindegaard, an international class stopper, signaled his intent not to be caught out twice.
But, Sir Alex wanted more than just the one top-class keeper, he wanted security between the posts and although United were heavily linked with a move for the German keeper, Manuel Nueur, after he produced a stirring performance against us in the Champions League, Sir Alex opted to spend big on the young Spaniard, David de Gea.
De Gea`s arrival was considered to be a bold move, albeit one that was fraught with danger. Would the young Spaniard, untried in the Premier League and its renowned physical element, be up to the task?
Sir Alex, having also purchased Lindegaard, had hedged his bets. He knew that if De Gea were to struggle to adapt he had a dependable keeper in reserve, also, with a plethora of games heading our way there was always going to be the opportunity to give both his new recruits ample time between the sticks.
De Gea, having cost what he did, started the season and was unfortunate to make a few errors, but credit to the Spaniard, and to Sir Alex, for persevering with him. Sir Alex has also used all his experience to take De Gea out of the firing line on some occasions, offering him a rest whilst also keeping Lindegaard active and match fit.
In recent weeks, De Gea has shown that those early errors have been eliminated. He may have shipped six against City but hand on heart can you say that he was at fault for any of them?
Already, in the space of a few short weeks De Gea has upped his game, any doubts about not being able to cope with the physical side have receded and his ability to offer a reassuring presence to the defence in front of him, allied with some great work between the sticks, has made him a favourite of the Old Trafford faithful.
Cleary there is already a bond developing between De Gea, Sir Alex and the coaching staff at Old Trafford with the Spaniard remarking recently,
“What I`ve learned since summer is more than most of my professional career.”
It`s a remarkably frank admission from somebody who, as a goalkeeper, relies so much on confidence.
We`re under no illusions that, as a goalkeeper, any errors are always going to be highly magnified, but after the problems we had replacing our last great keeper I don`t think we`ve done too badly since losing the excellent Edwin van der Sar. How about you?
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