Manchester united goalkeeper David de Gea turns 24 today and few would have thought what a fine goalkeeper he is turning out to be. Arguably the only bright spark in last season's dismal campaign, he has taken it to a whole new level this season with some amazing performances.
There is a lot of rising expectations from De Gea as a result of this form though, especially thanks to a string of superb saves produced already this season. This has been in stark contrast to his first few seasons where he faced a lot of criticism for his lack of aggression.
In a world where the best goalkeepers are the brave and those willing to take risks like Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich prosper, De Gea's attitude this season proves he is coming of age.
High standards continue to be maintained
De Gea has so far proved his doubters wrong with consistent performances that have earned him his fair share of praise.. His United player for the month for October only goes some way to showing how important the young Spanish stopper now is to the Red Devils.
This season he's kept United in games we would have easily lost by huge margins on another afternoon. The victory against West Ham was in large part down to De Gea, he saved a penalty and was superb throughout the game.
Etihad heroics weren't enough for United
Similarly in Last weekend's painful loss to Manchester City, the scoreline would have been disastrous were it not for his superb saves in one on one situations.He has hugely improved his game with better agression and anticipation.
However Man utd's defence has been his undoing this season.He has consistently played with a different back four in every game and it only makes his job harder organising the defence.
De Gea has only kept two clean sheets all season and will hardly be in the running for the golden glove, unless United buy defenders in January.
Huge strides justify Sir Alex Ferguson's faith
However an interesting look at his statistics showed he has improved over the last three years and is primed to compete with Thibaut Courtois for the best young goalkeeper. His recent exploits have not gone unnoticed by Spain coach Vincente del Bosque, who moved De Gea ahead of long-standing number on Iker Casillas last month.
Replacing Edwin Van Der Saar was always going to be an issue for United . However Ferguson made the bold decision of signing a young goalkeeper without Premier league experience and De Gea is finally repaying the faith shown in him.
De Gea made his league debut for United against West Bromwich Albion in 2011 and received criticism for failing to save Shane Long's goal during a 2–1 win for the Red Devils.
In-depth Scrutiny is always part of the job, especially at a big club like Manchester United, but De gea seems to have adapted superbly.
Time for Van Gaal to build a defence to help De Gea
One can only hope the defence will come to his aid with better and more confident displays. His penalty saving skills have also greatly improved with his physique and this has come with more confidence for the Spaniard.
As he turns 24, with over 100 appearances for United one hope that goalkeeping department is sorted for the long run unless Real Madrid come calling.
However with De Gea the last line of defence at United there is hope for better results and points will be won through his sheer brilliance. For now we can only hope for a comfortable first away win against Crystal Palace at the weekend as de gea celebrates his birthday with victory.