David De Gea has been a constant in the Manchester United side since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and it was apt that the goalkeeper should put in another show-stealing performance on the former manager’s first return to Old Trafford following his health scare in May.
It's incredible now to recall that De Gea’s arrival from Atletico Madrid in 2011 caused so much consternation at the time. A 20-year-old rake-thin kid taking over from the vastly experienced and medal-laden Edwin van der Sar? You’ve got to be kidding.
It was seven years ago this week that United’s backroom staff were preparing De Gea for his introduction to that once formidable trip to unforgiving Stoke City, just weeks into his Reds career. Sir Alex warned his new boy it would be an
“eye-opener.”But the lanky newcomer was learning quickly and came through his first major Premier League examination.
As I said before, that kind of doubt as to whether he could handle it now seems hard to comprehend.
Despite new contracts and countless declarations that he was happy in Manchester, media talk of that potential transfer just wouldn’t go away. Until Courtois moved, that is. The Chelsea goalkeeper going to the Spanish capital was as good as a new signing for United fans.
Saturday may have ended in disappointment when Joao Moutinho cancelled out Fred’s opener to force a 1-1 draw, but had De Gea not been between the posts, the outcome could have been worse. The point United had to settle for can be added to all those the keeper has won in seven years of service for Sir Alex, David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.
Saturday's evidence for how valuable he is started with a save from Raul Jimenez and continued with arguably his best stop of the contest, when he thwarted Willy Boly's bullet header. Both were made before Fred had opened the scoring against the run of play. De Gea was still saving the Reds in injury time when he stopped an Adama Traore shot with a trademark leg block.
The 30-year-old was reportedly once a target for United, before De Gea came along, and it was said Sir Alex himself had a look on the recommendation of Cristiano Ronaldo. Rui Patricio might have fit the bill as a successor to van der Sar but there are certainly no complaints that Ronaldo’s judgement was effectively overruled. The Reds signed that skinny Spaniard instead and have never regretted it.
The best of today was seeing you back at Old Trafford Sir Alex 🙌🏼 pic.twitter.com/X9h0cUEWet— David de Gea (@D_DeGea) September 22, 2018
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