De Gea's mistake highlights how much he has improved
David de Gea made a mistake on Saturday which led to Manchester United conceding a goal against West Ham United, but the goalkeeper’s misjudgement barely merited a mention.
On his 100th Premier League appearance for United, the lack of coverage devoted to De Gea’s poor attempt at collecting the corner from which Diafra Sakho scored for West Ham highlights the progress the Spaniard has made since a nightmare start to his career at Old Trafford.
Signed from Atlético Madrid as a raw 20-year-old in the summer of 2011, De Gea started badly and deteriorated quickly in his role as Edwin van der Sar’s successor.
A gaffe on his Community Shield debut against Manchester City was followed by a worse mistake on his first Premier League outing at West Bromwich Albion and, as the errors grew and the confidence of his defenders evaporated, United actively searched for a replacement.
It took eighteen months before De Gea finally eradicated the mistakes, but since a costly injury-time error at White Hart Lane in January 2013, he has become one of United’s most consistent performers, even winning the club’s player of the year award last season.
So when he now makes a mistake, flaps at a cross or fails to claim the ball, it largely goes unnoticed.
Having almost been dismissed as a failed experiment, De Gea has now become one of the top three goalkeepers in the Premier League, alongside Joe Hart and Thibault Courtois, and is now granted the benefit of the doubt when he errs.
United have spent millions on new faces this summer and more is likely to spent next year, but while weaknesses have been pinpointed in defence, midfield and attack, nobody has suggested they need a new goalkeeper.
And that is testament to De Gea emerging from his growing pains at Old Trafford.