David Moyes assumed the guise of an over-protective father in declaring that he had already spoken at great length-more than enough actually- about new teenage sensation Adnan Januzaj.
And after being the man responsible for bringing one Wayne Rooney to the world, his automatic, instinctive reaction would be to play down a little bit of the hype surrounding the youngster.
He was more effusive in his praise for his goalkeeper however who, at 22, is something like a veteran in comparison to 18-year-old Januzaj. The Spaniard has come a long way after once being viewed as the weakest link in United’s defence (one that featured Patrice Evra nonetheless, but I digress). Joe Hart could do more worse things than pick up the phone and
call up ‘DDG’ as he is known along Carrington, should he require advice on how to best deal with the negative bombardment concerning his recent performances.
De Gea has been the only constant in a United back four that has seen more changes than a diabetic’s diet. He has been the ever present source of reliability and dependency, even when the vastly experienced Rio-Vidic partnership has featured. At the Stadium of Light, De Gea proved this once more, as he has so many times now. In an opening period in which United’s
defending was the stuff of comic cuts, only De Gea prevented his team going into the break with a much bigger deficit. United’s slack defending allowed Johnson what seemed like enough time for a painting to be completed, to look up, look down, calculate, and deliver a pinpoint cross onto the head of 5-foot-something Giaccherini who powered a header with pace and direction towards the right-hand corner. All bets were off on a certain goal, I mean, did you see how perfectly the Italian met it? The connection with the ball was the stuff of
legend. He surely must score, even the gods of football will ensure it…well, there must have been another god of goalkeeping shaking his head and licking his lips at the challenge.
The Spaniard threw himself to his right to bat away the net-bound effort and keep his side in the game. Peter Schmeichel, himself a former custodian at United and the club’s watermark bearer for goalkeeping, said it was one of the most outstanding saves he had ever seen. And that was the turning point. Giaccherini snuffed another glorious chance soon after,
blazing over the bar from just outside the six yard box; clearly his mind was still entangled with what he had witnessed a few moments earlier.
When Moyes asked if that save may be a changing moment for the club’s entire season let alone the match, he bridled, “I don’t think so.” The reality however, suggests otherwise. Had United lost on Wearside for the first time since 1997, the international break would have been a time of torment for the new gaffer. The combined efforts of De Gea and Januzaj, two players on the journey towards etching their names in the bowels of the club’s corridors-the
latter at the very beginning of the journey- prevented United from slipping to a third league defeat for the first time in 12 years.
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