When will De Gea criticism end?
After Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea's great performance against Real Madrid, will he lose his doubters?
Picture yourself as a young 20-year-old Spaniard, spending your whole life in Spain, breaking into an Atlético Madrid side and claiming your spot as the number one goalkeeper of the team, the same team you joined when you were ten years old.
After going through the ranks and progressing towards that glorious number one spot at such a young age; you go on to capture the Europa League title, before lifting the UEFA Super Cup.
One of the biggest clubs in the world, Manchester United, then come knocking at your door, offering you the task of replacing one of the finest goalkeepers of our generation, Edwin van der Sar.
By no means an easy task, but ready for the challenge, the opportunity to play for one of the true major forces in world football lies before you.
Little do you expect the backlash and negativity you receive on a weekly basis.
Despite leaving everything from your homeland behind, family, friends, teammates; you continue to fight the doubters, however it seems no matter how hard you try, there is no way of winning them over.
David de Gea’s £17 million move was looked upon as risk. A high amount to pay for such a young and inexperienced goalkeeper, but when Sir Alex Ferguson displays so much faith in one man, who are we to question the signing? But it seems question De Gea is something that has been happening all too often since his arrival.
Sure there is expected to be a heap of pressure piled on to any player when they join a club with the stature of Manchester United, but with De Gea’s size and inexperience, he was obviously a long-term replacement.
The criticism De Gea receives in the media has been unfair, and he has had many doubters. One man who openly doubted the Spaniard was former Manchester United full back Gary Neville.
Although admitting that he too made mistakes, you wonder was he ever doubted as much as De Gea? over his tenure as a Manchester United goalkeeper? No.
Despite an impressive performance against Tottenham, where he produced a number of great saves, De Gea was criticised for the injury-time equaliser his side conceded. So what more does de Gea have to do?
He is already in the running to replace Iker Casillas as Spain’s number one choice, leapfrogging the likes of Pepe Reina and Victor Valdes, and constantly remains linked with a future move back to Madrid, this time with Real. If a team such as Real Madrid want you to replace one of their true greats, you know you must be doing something right.
On Wednesday night, Manchester United travelled to Spain to take on Real Madrid in their first leg encounter of the Champions League knockout stage.
It finished 1-1 but the praise fell to De Gea once more, as he impressed at the Bernabéu, with his incredible agility on show once more, as Fabio Coentrão found out as his curling effort was tipped on to the post, a shot which would have had most goalkeepers picking the ball out of the net.
Another occasion saw De Gea save with his feet, proving yet again that while a crowded Premier League penalty area might not be to his fondness, in pure shot-stopping terms he is up there with the very best.
Speaking after the game, the goalkeeper said: "It all happened so fast, I got across and was lucky enough to save it with my feet. Overall, I am very happy with my performance. I am improving every day at Old Trafford and I am very happy."
The media love to attack De Gea, highlighting every mistake he commits, major or minor.
The opposite can be said for England’s number one, Joe Hart.
When you compare the two goalkeepers, both based in Manchester and with extremely talented players around them, people always choose Joe Hart as the safer bet; as he is older, more experienced and is seen as more ‘reliable’ than De Gea or any other goalkeeper in the league for that matter.
But when you compare the stats this season, you find it hard to wonder why the media find it easier to attack De Gea, but overlook the mistakes which Joe Hart commits.
Saves: Hart – 44, de Gea - 68
Saves per game: Hart – 1.7, de Gea – 3.8
Saves to shot %: Hart – 65, de Gea - 77
Successful clearances: Hart – 26, de Gea - 24
Successful clearances per game: Hart – 1, de Gea – 1.3
Aerial duals won %: Hart – 75%, de Gea – 83%
Passing accuracy %: Hart – 60%%, de Gea – 56%
Total loss of possession: Hart – 224, de Gea - 188
Errors that lead to goals: Hart – 4, de Gea – 1
Although there are certain aspects in which Joe Hart beats De Gea in, it is clear that De Gea has been the much busier man, and thus more effective.
Southampton managed to overcome Manchester City 3-1, with Joe Hart committing a clear mistake, but the media are less critical when it comes to unsettling the England number one.
Manchester United fans know that De Gea is one for the future, but while performing better than England’s number one goalkeeper, and most goalkeepers in the league, the media continues to attack and doubt the Spanish youngster.
He may well determine the outcome of the return leg at Old Trafford, but one thing is for sure, David de Gea will continue to have his doubters for the foreseeable future.
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