Let’s be realistic about this, it is hard coming into a new league and country as a young player, and no matter how stellar your reputation, a transitional period is inevitable.
As Sir Alex said himself after the game against the Baggies, even Peter Schmeichel took time to acclimatise to the nature of the Premier League, which let’s face it, is the toughest in football to settle into and excel in. So to judge De Gea after just 2 appearances seems a mistake.
Doubters will point to the much-publicised fact that last season for Atletico, the young keeper conceded 11 goals from outside the box, the highest in the league. Clearly this is an area of his game he needs to improve, especially if it is down to a lack of concentration as Fergie. Beyond that, he had an excellent season, being ever present as Athletico finished 7th in La Liga. De Gea also excelled as Spain won the under 21 European Championships this summer, and despite his mistakes since arriving at Old Trafford, he has also pulled off a couple of brilliant saves, showing that he certainly has ability.
It is never wise to prematurely judge a player before they have had time to settle and acclimatise to a new club, yet should this situation be a reoccurring one for De Gea not only will he suffer an increasing amount of question marks over his ability to keep hold of the number one jersey, but the back four will become unsettled and lose the trust that they should have in their keeper.
This was evident when Van Der Sar stood between the posts for United, the players trusted him and knew when to come, when to stay and that Van Der Sar, should the need arise, would make the save. This was not the case when either Carroll or Howard assumed the position of number one keeper, and it showed in the United performances and results.
Especially with Rio and Vidic out for a few weeks, it is essential De Gea brings a secure presence to the back four. There is only so many times an outfield player – Ashley Young in the case our EPL opener – can rescue the points and atone for a keeping error.
In tighter games we will suffer should De Gea fail to settle.
Keeping faith in De Gea is essential for the time being, with Fergie being rarely wrong about a player who he would be willing to spend such a large amount of money on. For a keeper Iker Casillas stated could ‘soon put us all in retirement’ and called the future of the game, much is expected, and not without cause. The defence De Gea played behind at Athletico was far from world class, and he still managed to concede only 53 goals, keeping 11 clean sheets in the process – Real Madrid only managed 16.
De Gea has all the markings of a great player, and most essentially of all, has remained grounded despite his rise to fame, realising that ‘one day you can be famous, the next people are criticizing you’ and with if Fergie is willing to help and allow the boy to develop, and in all likelihood he will, De Gea has a greater chance than most at being United’s number 1 for a very long time.