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David De Gea, Lee Grant and Sergio Romero

Solskjaer: Nobody can beat our keepers

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United's goalkeeping department is among the best in world football.

Solskjaer, who himself played with some world-class shot-stoppers, thinks the Reds have assembled a formidable group of goalkeepers.

While David De Gea often gets the plaudits for his top-rate performances, Ole has also been hugely impressed with Sergio Romero and Lee Grant since he became the caretaker boss in December.
Manchester United goalkeepers Sergio Romero, Lee Grant and David De Gea training in Dubai
Romero, Grant and De Gea take part in some warm-weather training in Dubai, back in January.
Solskjaer knows it can take time and patience to produce top-quality talent in any position, and he feels the long game paid off in a big way with De Gea. The Spaniard had to adapt to some of the physical aspects of Premier League football when Sir Alex Ferguson first signed him for United in 2011, but he has since developed into perhaps the best goalkeeper on the planet.

“David has done fantastically since he came,”
said OIe, in his press conference ahead of Saturday's home clash with Southampton.

“The club really showed how much they wanted him back in the day when Eric [Steele, goalkeeping coach at the time] and the gaffer [Sir Alex] found him.

“There were probably keepers that were better than him then, but the belief that the manager showed in him, despite the criticism that he got early on, just pays dividends now with David's performances.

“He's been the club's Player of the Year for I don't know how many times in the last four or five years, so we're grateful to have him.

“Then again we've got Sergio and Lee, so it's a fantastic goalkeeper department that we have. I don't think there's any manager in the world that will beat me on that respect.”

The Reds' back-up stoppers have proved to be ever-reliable when called upon in this campaign; Romero, for example, has helped us to navigate past Reading, Arsenal and Chelsea to reach this month's Emirates FA Cup quarter-finals.

The Argentinian's clean sheet in the last round against Chelsea was his 27th in 43 appearances for the Reds, meaning he has stopped the opposition scoring in 63 per cent of his games - that's a better ratio than any other United stopper who has played at least five times for the club.

As for Grant, while he has appeared just once during our Carabao Cup clash against Derby County, he has helped De Gea and Romero to maintain their standards throughout the year by working with them and current goalkeeping coach Emiliio Alvarez at the Aon Training Complex.

Is De Gea our greatest-ever goalkeeper?Video

The caretaker boss knows a thing or two about great goalkeepers, having lined up alongside Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar during his playing days at Old Trafford. He was asked how our current no.1, De Gea, compares to those great custodians of our recent past.

“It's difficult to compare them, but of course I don't think Edwin and Peter ever were the Player of the Year,” said Ole.

“David’s meant so many points for us over the few years and I would say he's the best goalkeeper in the world, but you could say Peter was that at the time and Edwin as well.

“For me I'm delighted with David and his personality is fantastic. He's such a humble but confident boy.”

So spectacular has De Gea been in recent weeks, Solskjaer hopes the Spaniard will soon be tied down to a new contract. 

“Of course the club and David are in dialogue, so hopefully they'll agree,” said Ole. “It's out of my hands anyway, but I'm sure we'll do what we can.”

Edwin van der Sar and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Edwin and Ole enjoy a chuckle when reunited for a Legends match.

It’s not just De Gea who is in superb form, but the whole United defence, and we have kept a clean sheet in three of the last four Premier League outings.

One man who has been particularly impressive in that time is Luke Shaw, who is preparing to welcome his former club Southampton to Old Trafford on Saturday.

The full-back put in another excellent performance in the midweek clash against Crystal Palace and stood out with his attacking bursts at Selhurst Park.

“You could see that when Luke decided to drive forward with it, when he goes into fifth gear, there's nobody running quicker than him,” said Ole.

“He's so sharp off the mark. Confidence grows when you play of course and when you play well, so I've been delighted with his performances.”

Saturday’s visitors are in the grip of a relegation battle, but they'll arrive in Manchester after picking up three precious points against rivals Fulham on Wednesday night.

Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling.
Shaw played 67 times for Southampton, including this game against Chris Smalling and United.
“They did great when Ralph Hasenhuttl came in [as the new manager], but then they had a little bit of a tougher spell in February.

“It was a big win for them against Fulham and when you win a game like that, they'll be confident coming into our game. 

We need to get back to winning ways at home as well so we need to look at our own approach. I can't decide what Southampton are going to do, because they might change. But for us, we've just got to focus on what we have to improve on.”


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