David De Gea has offered varied levels of performances since his arrival from Atletico Madrid in June 2011. The young Spanish goalkeeper demanded a very high transfer fee, mooted to be in the region of £19 million, making him the second most expensive goalkeeper since Gianluigi Buffon.
He made a very fragile start to his Manchester United career, however by the end of the season he was able to consolidate his place as the club’s No.1 with a shot to save ratio of 77.9 percent, the best of any keeper in the Premier League last season. However, Sir Alex Ferguson's recent admissions may suggest the Spaniard’s claim on the No.1 jersey may loosen.
"I think young David made a mistake last week [against Fulham]. With the form he's been in, he's been making some fantastic saves, but one error like that could have cost us the game," Ferguson told Sky Sports after dropping De Gea against Southampton.
"It's just a learning process for him and he'll be back in a couple of weeks' time after the international break”.
This would clearly suggest that Ferguson is becoming unsure of De Gea’s reliability and possibly the pressure of playing for one of the largest football teams in the world may be too much.
Pressure is a term that is readily discussed and associated with Manchester United on a regular basis. When a new player is signed, one of the first questions they are asked is whether they can ‘handle the pressure’ of playing for such a renowned and famous footballing team
The debate concerning goalkeepers at Old Trafford is not new. Ferguson has made various goalkeeping mistakes during his guardianship of the 19-time English champions. Here is an overview of various keepers that could not handle the ‘aura’ and expectation of Old Trafford:
• Mark Bosnich: The Australian keeper arrived at Old Trafford in 1999 from Aston Villa, only making 35 Premier League appearances until he was swiftly moved on to Chelsea.
• Massimo Taibi: Joining from Venezia for a highly regarded £4.5 million fee, a lot was expected of the Italian keeper. However he left the club with two things; four appearances and a rather unflattering nickname, ‘The Blind Venetian’.
• Roy Carroll: It is one of the ongoing mysteries of modern football that Roy Carroll managed to keep his place in the United goal for 72 appearances. One of his blunders included the famous Pedro Mendes strike that Carroll threw into his own net; only for his mistake to go unnoticed by the referee.
• Ricardo: Along with Massimo Taibi, Ricardo enjoyed a very short United career. His life in Manchester started extremely promisingly with a penalty save in his first appearance, however it moved downhill very quickly from there. He made only five appearances for the Red Devils
As this shows, Ferguson is not always the most effective judge of talent when it comes to his No.1 jersey. Could De Gea be another ill-judged maneuver from the 70 year-old Scottish manager?
There is no doubt that De Gea still needs time to settle in order to truly follow the likes of Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar at the Theatre of Dreams.
But there is potential for that to happen, his shot-stopping ability should not be questioned, his decision-making on the other hand leaves a lot to be desired - something that could develop through time.