This year after a second strong season in a row we have chosen David De Gea as www.manutdtactics.com player of the year. David has had an excellent season but in all honest we have not been spoiled for choice in making our selection. Wayne Rooney, after his drama’s at the end of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign has knuckled down and his form has seen a general improvement on recent years. That form has however still been patchy. Adnan Januzaj has shown great youthful promise. Juan Mata has shown since his arrival in January that he is a high class player. He hasn’t been at the club for long enough however to merit serious consideration for this award. He should be a contender next year.

But David De Gea has been playing to a consistently high standard throughout the season and he is perhaps the only United player of whom we can say that.

De Gea joined the club three years ago and has shown a steady and consistent improvement throughout that time. There have been no great leaps forward; he has worked hard at his game and has improved in all those areas where he struggled in his difficult first season. The improvement means that he is now United’s definitive number 1 to the extent that no one would be surprised in United’s second choice keeper, Lindegaard now looked elsewhere for regular first team football. De Gea has been selected in 52 of United 55 first team games this season, (he kept 19 clean sheets in a difficult season for the defence).

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De Gea has be praised in all quarters this year, he won the BBC’s Match of the Day “Save of the Season” competition for his reflex point blank save from Luis Suarez in United’s home game against Liverpool as well as the club’s Players’ Player of the Year and Fans Player of the Year awards. These last two awards reflect on badly United’s season, but they reflect well on De Gea.

His improvement can be attributed to the technical detail work with Chris Woods during his brief tenure as coach. This work continued the fine work former coach Eric Steele did when the young Spaniard arrived in a raw format. The basics were nailed down; strength and communication but Woods has developed his strength, his concentration and his decision making. The major criticism for De Gea upon his arrival was how he dealt with crosses/corners in his penalty area. This season we have seen that success rate jump from 88% in 2012/13 to 95% in 2013/14 (source – http://tinyurl.com/l5q77ma); he was forced to take more control of this with the shifting sands that was our defensive line ups this season. The stat is backed up by the reduction in punching percentages. Punching is often associated with ‘foreign’ goalkeepers but our Dave has ‘anglophiled’ himself with choosing to catch more than punch.

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Surprisingly he let one more clean sheet this season than the previous one although his importance to the team is clear having played nine more appearances this season than the last. More opportunities to keep a clean sheet!

With improved and consistent performance comes a confidence and calmness and De Gea’s is apparent. During an interview, Steele explained how the Spaniard managed in his early days,

“It’s not easy. He’s learning in the toughest environment in the world. But the one thing he has is fantastic inner strength. We teach him that the calmest man on the field has to be the goalkeeper. And one of his great strengths is his calmness. In Spanish we call it cresta cabeza. It means, literally, quiff-head. Any criticism goes off that quiff.”

We will leave the last word on David De Gea to manutdtactics.com cub reporter Luke Shepherd, aspiring goalkeeper himself; De Gea is his hero,

“De Gea is a great keeper because he is brave, fast and clever. De Gea helps the team because he can make great saves and he is the world’s third best goalie.  De Gea starred for Atletico but moved to Old Trafford for United, helping the team to win the prem in the 2012 – 2013 season.  You need courage to play for United.  De Gea can make stunning and brilliant saves with his feet.  De Gea can help the team.  He makes good clearances which sometimes lead to goals”.

Luke Shepherd, (age 8)