In a pre-season where most of the talk at the club has been about which new players we will be bringing in and which players will be leaving, a very important case has more or less gone unmentioned. Who will United’s first choice goalkeeper be come the start of the 2012/13 season?
Last summer saw the retirement of the ever-consistent Edwin Van Der Sar which meant Fergie was on the lookout for a new keeper. He had already purchased Danish keeper Anders Lindegaard in January 2011, but very much saw him as a number two who would provide a stern test for the future number one. Then on the 24th of May, a day which saw another United legend in Gary Neville bow out of the game, Sir Alex Ferguson announced that a deal had been done with Atletico Madrid to bring in Spanish Wonderkid David De Gea. This deal was strongly denied by the Spanish team and De Gea insisted that he would not consider his future until after the UEFA Under-21 Championships. Then on the 29th of June the transfer was confirmed for a British record fee for a keeper which was around £17 million.
De Gea was first choice for the opening games of the season but his inconsistency become a trait which United fans would struggle to cope with. Early signs showed that De Gea’s shot stopping skills were one of the finest in the Premier League and that he clearly had the potential to make that number one spot his own in his debut season at United. But frequent errors in his first 5 months at the club, most notably against Blackburn in a shocking 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford, led to Fergie dropping De Gea for Lindegaard for the trip to Newcastle at the turn of the year. Lindegaard took his chance, despite a 3-0 defeat at the Sports Direct Arena but standout performances including a win over arch rivals Man City in the FA Cup gave Lindegaard the edge over De Gea in the pecking order. But just as Lindegaard hit peak form, he picked up an ankle injury which ruled him out until the end of the season. This paved the way for De Gea to have a second bite at the cherry and nail down that number one spot for the 2012/13 season. To De Gea’s credit, he took his second chance well and came back with far more confidence with some outstanding performances, including the phenomenal comeback at Stamford Bridge where De Gea rose high to stop a Juan Mata strike which surely would have won them the game.
Lindegaard’s pre-season will include United’s pre-season tour where he will travel to South Africa, China and the USA to try and prove his fitness for the start of the season. Meanwhile, De Gea has been included in Spain’s Olympic football team, which will be a big test for De Gea and a chance to prove himself on the international stage in front of millions of people. In my opinion, De Gea should start the season as number one as he is full of confidence and looks to have finally settled in. Lindegaard will be good to use in the cup games to keep him fit and aware incase De Gea’s good form goes missing or he picks up an injury. Either way, lets just hope that we get that title back and make it 20.