David de Gea claimed his fourth Sir Matt Busby ‘Player of the Year’ award in five years at Manchester United at the club’s annual award ceremony on Tuesday night.
The Spaniard has enjoyed his finest season yet at Old Trafford, claiming a total of 21 clean sheets in all competitions.
He was also awarded with the ‘Players’ Player of the Year’ award – claimed by Antonio Valencia last year – by his peers.
There was really no surprise anywhere when it was announced that the keeper, now widely regarded as the best in the world in his position, had won the main award once again.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 1, 2018
Speaking soon after receiving the prestigious award, De Gea admitted it was hard to put into words just what the club meant to him.
“It’s difficult to say with words what Manchester United means for me, for anyone,” he said.
“It’s amazing to play for this club, with the history of this club, for the fans, for everything. It’s amazing to be part of this club.
“It was a bit hard at the beginning but I believed in myself and I work hard and train hard and, until now, I am proud of myself too. Of course, I want to say thanks to everyone. I didn’t expect to win one but now I have won it four times so it’s amazing for me. Thank you.”
It has been roundly claimed that the sight of a goalkeeper, and not a striker or midfielder, winning the ‘Player of the Year’ award serves as a damning indictment of big players not stepping up.
And while this was unquestionably true during the David Moyes and Louis van Gaal years, where no players apart from De Gea stood out from the sludge forming in front of us, this time it feels different.
There have been a number of players who have impressed and made big impacts on the trajectory of United’s campaign: Romelu Lukaku’s goals and presence, Jesse Lingard‘s evolution, Nemanja Matic‘s balance at the base of midfield, the resurgence of Ashley Young all serve as examples.
But nobody has come close to the consistency and jaw dropping brilliance of De Gea. Perhaps supporters, this time around, should praise their keeper for being the best in the world rather than hit out at other players for not doing enough.