Goalkeepers. They don’t get the adulation of a striker like a Rooney or a David Villa who score goals for fun and get labelled ‘match winners’ on a weekly basis, but they are equally important.
A great save during a crucial time in a match can change the course of a game like a goal can, and the man between the posts can become a hero or a villain just instantaneously. We can all recall Roy Carroll scooping the ball out of the back of the net against Spurs to much comic effect, likewise Fabien Barthez’s mistakes time after time, which cost us many games both domestically and in Europe – the Deportivo game springs to mind here, back in 2001. Chelsea won back to back titles due to a core group of players and make no mistake Petr Cech was a key one of those. All trophy winning sides have great goalkeepers – the man between the posts is vital. Which is why United have to move so carefully now when replacing the illustrious Van Der Sar, who retired at the age of 40.
We have a history of having world class keepers – Schmichael and the recently departed Van Der Sar spring to mind here – but we also have a history of some howlers which have cost us titles and lost us games that they should not. The question of how to replace Van Der Sar and with who has been mooted for a couple of seasons now, with the veteran not getting any younger. Now finally the time has come, with his retirement coming at the end of last season and a replacement needed. The board have sounded out the idea of many keepers in this time, including Manuel Neuer and Juilo Cesar, but have finally settled on the young keeper David De Gea.
Formerly on the books at Atletico Madrid and as of last Saturday an under 21 European Championship winner with Spain – all he needs now is for Casillas to drop a bottle of sauce on his foot and he could enjoy the same entry into the senior squad! On a serious note, at twenty years of age, and with what seems to be bags of talent this is looking to be a great deal for around the £17.8 million reportedly paid for the player.
Twenty year old De Gea will now be thrust on to the world stage like never before, playing for one of, if not the biggest, clubs in the world in United, and it is inevitable De Gea will need time to bed into the team and acclimatise to his new surroundings. Former jeepers keepers himself Roy Carroll offered his opinion on the signing of De Gea and pointed out the not so shocking fact that”Manchester United is the sort of club that want to win every trophy and the pressure of playing for United is a big thing.”
Obviously the pressure was too much for Roy, and to avoid a similar situation with De Gea, he must be given time and support from the club, and allowed to reach the full potential he is clearly capable of. Much like a Joe Hart or a Petr Cech, both with buckets of potential and given the time and support of their respective clubs to become the keepers they are today.
For United and De Gea this shouldn’t be a problem. Fergie is one of the greatest managers in the game for doing this, and has brought scores of young players through the ranks and allowed them to become what they are today. The boys from 1992, Ronaldo, Rooney and Hernandez have all been young, inexperienced lads and guided through the pressures both on and off the field by the manager and his backroom staff. There is no reason why De Gea should be any different and not become an important part of the United first team.
Goalkeepers do win games and change matches, and good, young keepers are such a rare find, which is why it was so vital to buy De Gea. We must now allow him to progress into the world class keeper he has the potential to become and insert himself in to our history of top players. De Gea will have a huge role in our challenge to win the four competitions we are certainly capable of at least reaching the latter stages of.
Who ever said ‘you don’t win anything with kids’ has been proven to be so wrong in the past by us, and with the likes of Hernandez and De Gea in our side they may well be again!