When Manchester United signed 20-year-old goalkeeper David de Gea for £20m you could more or less predict what was going to happen. His first mistake would be magnified, he’d get ripped apart in the press and would be under the spotlight from then on.
So, the script had been written and de Gea complied, letting in two soft goals against City at the Community Shield at Wembley. The team came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 but a lot was made of his mistakes.
On the opening day of the season, de Gea let in a shot he should have saved against West Brom and the papers went to town on him.
Whilst obviously not the finished article, our young goalie has started to win the press over now (The Telegraph – De Gea passes Anfield test, The Guardian – David de Gea shrugs off his dodgy mantle to rise above the occasion) following fantastic saves in our games against Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.
Even Patrick Barclay from The Times, who had probably been the most damning of all, came round to seeing what a top talent we have between the sticks.
Whilst it’s nice to see some of de Gea’s fiercest critics come round to him, it’s cringeworthy that Barclay can’t just acknowledge that he got it wrong. To write de Gea off after one league game was a ridiculous thing to do but everyone can make dodgy calls at times.
The fact that he had been the first choice keeper at one of the best teams in Spain for two years previously, winning the Europa League and Super Cup as their number one as a teenager, should have been a big clue that we weren’t wasting our money. Still, nobody is perfect, even if Barclay’s criticism was excessive and too hasty.
“The goalie is like a jelly,” he said.
“He isn’t physically capable.”
“He’s Heurelho Gomes without the shot-stopping. I can’t see what he’s got. That’s what he is.”
“I have to say, I’m looking forward to Man United Stoke, when is it?”
“How on earth could Ferguson and all his millions of goalkeeping [scouts]… is Tony Coton still there? Whoever. He’s had Alan Hodgkinson over the years. How on earth they could have watched this boy, week in week out, and then signed him for the first team. I just don’t know.”
Clearly Barclay forgot all about this episode otherwise he wouldn’t have been so foolish as to claim that he had never questioned de Gea’s ability, just his form. I’m not sure whether just two games can count as “form” but in claiming he had no idea why United had signed him, after watching him regularly, Barclay is clearly criticising the lad’s ability.
We’ve seen the U-turn on his opinion, it’s just a shame that a journalist who is generally regarded fairly highly isn’t big enough just to admit he got it wrong.
Listen to Barclay’s criticism of de Gea on The Game podcast (Episode 2 – 8/14/11)