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David De Gea in action for United against Wolves

De Gea showed his worth once again

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.

De Gea was one of three players signed by Sir Alex who was in Saturday's starting XI against Wolves. Antonio Valencia and Chris Smalling were the others, and both had been brought to Old Trafford before the Spanish stopper.

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.
David De Gea and Sir Alex Ferguson in 2011
De Gea was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson in June 2011.
That was the wide reaction when Sir Alex gave a thumbs up to former goalkeeper coach Eric Steele’s suggestion that this youngster in La Liga had what it would take to play in the Premier League. The United boss ran with it and took a barrage of early criticism as the youngster was roughed up during his early days in England.

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.
Against Wolves, De Gea gave another of those displays that explains why the club's supporters were so relieved on 8 August this year. That was the day Thibaut Courtois signed for Real Madrid from Chelsea. The Belgian moving to the Bernabeu ended once and for all the irritating and unsettling speculation that De Gea would eventually end up back in his home city playing for Real.

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.
David De Gea catches a high ball during the Wolves game
De Gea had a busy afternoon at Old Trafford as Wolves put United's defence under pressure.
That pile of points would surely put an unprecedented price on the Spaniard's head if he was on the market. Fortunately that's a massive 'if'. Meanwhile, United's arch rivals Liverpool had to pay a world-record fee for a goalkeeper this summer, £67m to sign Alisson Becker from Roma, in an attempt to acquire the kind of stability De Gea provides for his team.

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.
Rui Patricio
Wolves' Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio was linked with a move to United, before the Reds signed De Gea.
At the other end of Old Trafford, Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio rightly earned plaudits for his wonder save from Fred’s thunderous free kick. The setpiece looked certain to make it 2-0 in first-half stoppage time until the Portuguese no.1 pushed it away with one hand.

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.

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