Man United ended their 2022/23 Premier League with a victory that wouldn’t have been possible without David De Gea.
The Spaniard has had his critics this season, particularly after the Europa League debacle at Sevilla, but he was in the right place at the right time to push aside Aleksandar Mitrovic’s penalty to keep his side from going 2-0 down in their match against Fulham.
The significance of the save might have been lost on a lot of people too:
That’s De Gea’s first penalty save at Old Trafford since he denied Leighton Baines in October 2014. #mufc
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) May 28, 2023
Although in the grand scheme of things the result didn’t really matter, what it will have done is given the team confidence ahead of their tough test next weekend at Wembley.
Man City lie in wait in the first-ever Manchester FA Cup final, and with United set to be the underdogs, every Red Devils player will need to be at their absolute best.
De Gea has played himself into form at the right time, and manager, Erik ten Hag, certainly wasn’t backwards in coming forwards with the plaudits for the custodian.
“I think it shows even at that age, you can progress. It was a great save,” he said in his post-match press conference, quoted by the official Man United website.
“A real step up in his performance and I think that it’s similar for our team during the season, good is not good enough and you have to do better.
“It was a great save in the right moment in the game because, 2-0 down, then it’s going to be difficult to win the game.
“From there on, we turned the game, and we win the game, so yeah, I’m happy with the performance from today from my team.
“I think after the save of David, it was the turning point and I think we woke up, so a very good wake-up from David, a great save.”
The one thing that the Dutchman could do over the summer is recruit another high quality keeper to keep De Gea on his toes.
That way, more performances like Sunday’s can be extracted rather than the complacency that comes with knowing that you’ve got no one to realistically challenge you.
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