Form is temporary, class is permanent. It’s a football cliché that’s often used but more often forgotten – this is especially evident at the moment with Man Utd and its goalkeeper.
It’s fair to say that De Gea has not performed to his usual consistent level over the past few months but it seems to me that he is a victim of his own class. He had previously set such a high standard that we started to take that standard for granted and now, after taking his time signing a new contract, there is huge relief that this man is committed to the cause.
“Forget the rumours” are the opening words to his contract announcement. He may have taken his time putting pen to paper – but was he right? Yes he was.
In the eight full seasons as our No.1, he has been voted Player of the Year on four occasions, the first Man Utd player to achieve this feat. Player’s salaries have increased drastically since he signed his last contract in 2015, yet his has remained the same and he even won the Premier League Golden Glove just two seasons ago.
I think we would do well to remember that, at 28 years old, he remains one of the best goalkeepers in the world – he’s off form, yes, but he isn’t even in his prime. This new contract will probably be his penultimate and, of course, he needed to be happy with it. There will be extra details like a testimonial in 2021 that had to be factored in also – so naturally these things take time.
What we need to consider, is our perception, and the media’s portrayal of him.
Take his recent performance against Crystal Palace, for example. Could he have done better for their second goal, the one that resulted in our first defeat of the season? Of course but Pogba could also have done better by not getting caught in possession. There were six Utd defenders versus four attacking Palace players, all of whom could have done better to prevent the shot. But the media jumped on De Gea.
So the names Donnarumma, Cillessen, Onana or Oblak have been thrown around as potential replacements if De Gea had decided not to extend. Would I have preferred to see them take De Gea’s place? Definitely not.
Each has his strengths but each also carries various risks – no bigger than keeping De Gea where he is. In losing him we would have lost a leader and ambassdor. One that won’t be emulated by any of the above.
So Man Utd made the right move to pay him the money he wanted and has earned. He is our new captain (as Young will only start if there are injuries) and I’m sure Ole must have known that negotiations were coming to a satisfactory conclusion having made that decision. He wouldn’t need the disruption or the headache of speculation that De Gea could start speaking to other clubs, in January.
At the end of the day class IS permanent and so should our support be, that’s what will get him back to his best. With the new contract signed, we can continue to thank God for that fax machine and celebrate Dave Stays!