By Marc Eadie – @Eadie84
The 22 year old is somewhat of a ‘flapper’ when it comes to crosses. He often comes to collect balls, but isn’t always reliable in dealing with them. He is most definitely a goalkeeper who prefers to punch rather than catch too and it was a combination of both of these traits that essentially cost United the late equalising goal against Tottenham in their 1-1 draw on Sunday. It wasn’t his first mistake of the season, but surely there’s more to be considered before we lay blame at the Spaniard’s door?
First of all, his age is critical. A young goalkeeper needs experience and it is a double-edged sword in how to best develop them; give them exposure to the first team and risk their mistakes costing the side valuable points or keep them on the bench and potentially hinder their augmentation?
There is an alternative though.
When De Gea signed for United many assumed he was a direct replacement for the retired Edwin Van Der Saar – especially given the £17 million transfer fee – but what if he had been immediately loaned out? Perhaps even back to Atletico? De Gea would get games and, more importantly, experience with a strong side against quality opposition, and everyone would benefit from De Gea returning as a better player. This would have left United lacking options in-goal but they could have sought someone with reliable gloves to do a short-term job; Brad Friedel would have been the perfect selection.
United wouldn’t have committed to a purchase like De Gea if they didn’t think he would be worth it. The question is whether they misjudged his current ability and blurred the line between that and his potential ability? He has already proven he is a good shot-stopper, albeit slightly unorthodox as he often saves with his feet, but if he can improve his decision-making and work on clearing balls (that he can’t catch) to safety then he will no doubt be met with greater acclaim. He can only improve these things given time though. Sir Alex Ferguson has to decide whether he can afford to give the young Spaniard time, and if not, find a solution that helps not hinders De Gea’s development.
Is David De Gea worth the mistakes? Can United afford to lose sloppy late goals against their closest rivals? Tweet us @talkingbaws or comment below. Watch out for Nicky Boyle’s blog tomorrow.