Following the arrival of Erik ten Hag as the new Manchester United manager, the club was expected to undergo a major rebuilding phase with deadwood chucked out and an injection of fresh blood.
The Dutchman did just that in the summer, as he plugged key holes in the squad with the permanent signing of five players and the loan signing of a back-up goalkeeper.
The addition of Martin Dubravka was significant because of the form exhibited by David de Gea in the recent past, with his critics pointing out his weakness with the ball at his feet and his reluctance to come off his line.
DDG’s woes and how he is overcoming his flaws
The Spaniard seemed to lack the two most important traits synonymous with modern goalkeepers and it was widely expected that De Gea would lose his No 1 status under the former Ajax boss.
And the season begun in disastrous fashion for the 32-year-old as he committed high-profile errors in pre-season as well as against Brentford in the Premier League.
Unai Simon Spains #1
While David De Gea is sat at home pic.twitter.com/YKauKEFVMf
— Joeknowsball (@joeknowstheball) December 1, 2022
Question marks were raised and critics and pundits vociferously called for the Spaniard’s exit from the club and many reports mentioned that the Red Devils were dithering over whether to activate the one-year extension clause in his contract.
With De Gea’s contract ending in 2023, the 20-time English champions were linked with a host of goalkeepers but since then, the former Atletico Madrid has definitely upped his game.
His shot-stopping ability remains unmatched and as pointed out by the United boss, De Gea is certainly improving in the other areas of his game.
“For me, for a goalkeeper, you have to protect the goal and make sure you don’t concede goals. In that fact, he is magnificent.
Simon slammed, DDG praised
“On the feet, for me, he has the capabilities as well. I think when you see this season, he is progressing from game to game on that part,” Ten Hag had opined a while back.
And it was a surprise to see Spain coach Luis Enrique overlook the United shot-stopper once again when he picked his squad for the World Cup.
And United legend Gary Neville has slammed that decision, especially in the aftermath of Japan’s famous 2-1 victory over the 2010 World Cup champions.
Japan’s scored the first goal through a Ritsu Doan shot which went in at Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon‘s near post.
And Neville, speaking on ITV (via Daily Mail), slammed the keeper and opined that De Gea would have saved that and spared the nation’s blushes.
“He’s not filled me with confidence. (Simon’s) the one part of the team which is a real weak point. He’s got to save that. It’s no good that.
“They’ve got De Gea still at home.I know he’s not been brilliant these last few years, but I can’t think he’d let that one in! That’s a real bad one. In a knock-out game that’s fatal for you.”
Interestingly, Simon has been linked with a move to the Premier League giants but on this showing, maybe De Gea deserves another shot.