It was about 9 years ago when a relatively unknown keeper David de Gea was signed from Atletico Madrid by Manchester United. This mission wasn’t easy as it required the great sir Alex Ferguson to miss a united game for only the second time in a long and decorated career at the club which lasted 26 years. While the Spaniard at first glance didn’t seem to warrant such acclaim, he quickly established himself as one of the best shot-stoppers in the world, if not the best. While his last season’s performances were referred to as an anomaly, it was expected to change under the then recently appointed boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but nothing has changed. If at all, it’s worse. so, what’s wrong with David de Gea?
For the answer, we must take a look at his past and trace it to see what’s changed.
The doubted youngster to the best goalkeeper in the world
While it took a while for De Gea to get the ground running, his performances were lambasted by fellow critics, but Sir Alex Ferguson knew what he was doing. His patience wasn’t truly rewarded until after his retirement when De Gea finally stepped up to the plate and spearheaded almost every game that Manchester United won, especially the important ones, with the most prominent one being the game against Arsenal in 2017 which saw David De Gea make a record 14 saves. It’s almost unlikely for any goalkeeper in the premier league to eclipse such a record anytime soon, such is the magnitude of the record.
The season to remember
It was around the summer of 2017 when De Gea was the best goalkeeper in the league and probably the best in the world, but no one could have foreseen what was going to unfold next. This was also a campaign that saw pull off some inhumane saves and capture the golden glove after keeping 18 clean sheets in the premier league. A goalkeeper who never ceased to dazzle the world caught the attention of one adamant Florentino Perez, who wanted De Gea at Real Madrid at any cost. After previously trying and failing on multiple occasions, with the one in 2015 being the closest, The summer of 2015 almost saw De Gea leave, only for the Fax machine to break down at Manchester United, denting De Gea’s dream of moving to Real Madrid.
The return of the infamous Fax machine and the uneventful night in Russia
The year 2018 was known for two things in David de Gea’s career, with the first being the night in Russia where De Gea was tasked with handling Cristiano Ronaldo at the World Cup, and the return of the infamous Fax machine. On a night where the world got to see Portugal go head to head with Spain, there was a famous Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick and a series of high-profile errors from De Gea. His confidence was at an all-time low on the back of a tumultuous World Cup. Still widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, The Real Madrid officials were pushing for a move once again. This lead to the return of the broken Fax machine in Manchester, which planted the seeds for another fiasco, putting an end to any hope of David De Gea moving to Real Madrid once and for all.
After an incredible premier league campaign in 2017-18, a lot was expected of De Gea going forward at Manchester United, but it wasn’t a long time until everything came crashing down. The 2018-19 season for Manchester United is synonymous with the sacking of Jose Mourinho and the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. While initially there was an improvement from the team, the form didn’t last long. This consequently hurt De Gea’s confidence, leading to his decline.
The 2019-20 season has been a season littered with many errors, making De Gea the most error-prone goalkeeper in the league, a feat that is truly alien to a man that once was almost impenetrable. One of the more conspicuous things leading to this decline is the departure of the goalkeeping coach Emilio Alvarez, who worked with De Gea for years at Manchester United. Some sight that to be the biggest problem.
A new style-
Over the years, David de Gea has been winning more plaudits for his saves than that of his ball-playing abilities. This season has seen a new goalkeeping coach working with De Gea. While little is known about him, it’s almost safe to say that he has altered De Gea’s style of goalkeeping, with the Spaniard taking more time to look for passes, leading to mistakes against Everton in a one-all draw in January, and many more. The other errors suggest a feeling of self-doubt, which can, therefore, be linked to confidence.
What now for David De Gea?
It’s probably a bit far-fetched to say that De Gea is finished but it’s almost impossible to put behind the recent problems and move on. But it’s worth noting that it’s normal for a goalkeeper to experience a dip in form when there is a change in the style of play. But with all that said, it’s probably time for him to feel the warmth of the bench for the first time in almost close to a decade so that he can rethink and possibly restore the lost form. Maybe a change in the goalkeeping coach can help, but only time will tell what’s next for David de Gea.
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