David de Gea has finally won his first Golden Glove
Manchester United travelled to the London Stadium on Thursday night in what was a dull 0-0 draw. Both teams had half chances to score but neither side took advantage of them. The point secured second place for the Reds while the Hammers were already safe. There were no great positives from the match for United other than the clean sheet. This clean sheet was United's and David De Gea's 18th of the Premier League season. It was a rather significant one. It meant that David De Gea had secured the Premier League Golden Glove for the first time in seven years. Just let that sink in for a moment.
In 2011, a young Spanish goalkeeper was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson for £17m to replace the legendary Edwin van Der Sar. A Sir Alex Ferguson signing had to succeed, right? Well, not so, many criticised the move. De Gea's performances supported the criticism. It was looking like the aftermath of Peter Schmeichel all over again. De Gea kept making mistake after mistake. His lack of strength was exposed. He couldn't catch crosses, nor command his box.
Everyone knew about his incredible shot stopping and reflexes. Just look at the penalty he saved vs Arsenal or Juan Mata's freekick at Stamford Bridge. The signs and the talent for him to become an excellent keeper were always there. But he had to work so very hard to cut it in the Premier League. And boy, has he done that.
David De Gea making mistakes seems like a distant memory. Such has been the improvement of the Spaniard. Big Dave has grown physically, mentally and keeps advancing his skills and techniques. He has now won the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award four times, the most in the history of the club. And it has not always been because of the poor performances of other players, it has been because of his incredibly consistent world class displays.
David De Gea has raised the bar higher and higher for himself and goalkeepers around the world. This season, he has just been on another level. That reflex save at Stoke, headers saved at Sevilla, Benteke's header at Palace, Swansea home, Aguero's header in the derby and the 'God' like performance against Arsenal are just some of the highlights this season. He makes extraordinary saves look ordinary.
De Gea has calmed fellow Sir Matt Busby player of the season, Ander Herrera before matches saying:
Ander, stand still, don't worry, it can't go wrong. If they shoot, they cannot score because I'm in goal'
De Gea is the perfect goalkeeper. Tall enough to cover the whole goalpost, cat-like reflexes, strong hands, good distribution, good with the ball at his feet, vision to launch counter-attacks, assuring figure for the team, vocal with his defenders, doesn't fade under pressure and loves the big games.
One award that has evaded him in his tenure in England was the Premier League Golden Glove. He finished fifth with 13 clean sheets in 11/12, fifth with 11 in 12/13, seventh with 12 in 13/14, eighth with 10 in 14/15, second with 15 in 15/16, third last season with 14 and has now finally won it with 18. The closest he came to the award was in 2015/16, when he was just one clean sheet behind Petr Cech. He could've been the joint-holder if it wasn't for Chris Smalling's own goal in the last game of the season at home against Bournemouth.
Yes, the United defence deserves credit too. After all, everyone contributes towards defending and Jose Mourinho's system helps too, but take nothing away from David De Gea. He has made a whopping 114 saves in 37 league apps. He has been let down by this United defence far too many times and has carried the team for the last five years. The epitome of consistency and probably United's only genuine world-class player.
And if you still have doubts, watch this.