Where would Manchester United be without David de Gea?
It’s a question not worth pondering for fans given the sheer amount of times their Spanish goalkeeper has spared the club's blushes throughout the current campaign.
Such has been De Gea’s influence this season that he was awarded Player of the Year for the third year running at United’s end-of-season awards ceremony on Monday night, becoming the first player to manage such a feat at the club.
SIGN UP NOW
Want to become a GMS writer? Sign up now and submit a 250 word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay4
Article continues below
However, what was meant to be a momentous occasion for the Spain international quickly became a moment of awkwardness thanks to manager Louis van Gaal.
Upon collecting his award, De Gea’s failed Real Madrid move was brought up by his Dutch manager during a speech intended as praise for the shot-stopper.
Article continues below
Watch the awkward moment below at 0:50.
Van Gaal’s words resulted in cheers from the crowd yet De Gea’s reaction tells a different story.
After being reminded that his girlfriend lives in Madrid, his parents are Spanish and that he narrowly missed out on a dream move to Madrid, there can be little doubt that previous emotions came rushing back for De Gea.
It wasn’t all cringeworthy, of course. Van Gaal continued to genuinely laud his goalkeeper’s efforts this season, saying: “As a manager I am so happy he is here.
“You (speaking directly to De Gea) deserve to win the title for the third time. I don’t think any player has done that in history. Fantastic!”
De Gea shared his own thoughts on being awarded the accolade for a third-successive year.
He said: “Three years in a row, to win this trophy, is amazing. I’m really happy.
“I want to say thank you to everyone, the fans. I think we have the best fans in the world.”
United can yet give De Gea what he ultimately deserves by winning the FA Cup on May 21.
The Red Devils face Crystal Palace at Wembley in their final game of the season and will need victory if they’re to avoid recording another trophyless campaign.
And Van Gaal’s future could well depend on it too, with a top four sport a tall order for his players.
The 64-year-old, who believes himself to be one of the world’s best manager’s, is under pressure to deliver amidst rumours Jose Mourinho could arrive and succeed him this summer.
During at separate speech at United’s end-of-season awards ceremony, Van Gaal said: “I am happy to give fans a final. Expectations are too high.
“We are in a period of transition. It is not so easy. We have to meet the expectations of the biggest club in the world."