As David De Gea flapped at another cross on Saturday, questions again were raised whether the man deemed Manchester United's number two, Anders Lindegaard, should be the man between the posts instead of "picking his nose" as he puts it. Has the time come for the young goalkeeper from Madrid to be dropped?
Sir Alex Ferguson has several things he needs to weigh up I think. The obvious one is who is the better keeper. But other things I think he has to keep in mind is the age of De Gea and the Spaniards development, the two are obviously linked, as well as our current injury problems, the competition (e.g Europa or Premier League) and the opposition.
Lets start with the two keepers. De Gea has proven himself to be an excellant shot stopper. Especially from close range when he has to rely on his reflexes and instincts. He has very good athletic ability which enables him to get to shots others can not. Prehaps what lets him down though is his physique. He is very slight, and that allows him to be hassled when coming to claim high balls. His mentality too has come in to question. When coming for the crosses he doesn't seem to want to put himself in harms way. Against Blackburn on Saturday, he was far too tentative in coming for the corner that led to their third goal. He should be clearing players out to claim or punch the ball.
In contrast, Anders Lindegaard has hardly put a foot wrong when he has been called upon. He too seems to be a handy shot stopper. But he also seems to be of a slightly sturdier build and maybe this helps him do what De Gea fails to - Inspire confidence when claiming high balls, especially under challenge from the opposition. And from a personal point of veiw, I have confidence in Lindergaard to not screw up but with De Gea, I don't get that. And that fear has proved right on at least six occaisions this season.
If you look at some stats for the two keepers, you will see that the Dane has not conceded a league goal in five starts, and lets in 0.14 goals for every game he plays. Our so called number one has let in 17 goals in the league after 14 appearences and in all games (C shield included) 25 goals in 19. (The argument against these stats is that Lindegaard so far has played in games of less significance than De Gea.)
Also how much has our defnesive selections hampered how many chances we have given up, and therfore how many goals we have conceded? I think this has hampered De Gea, more so than what it would have done had Lindergaard been the number one. De Gea seems to have less comand of his box than Lindergaard. So having to adapt to different defensive partnerships obviously can't help him. Anders, to his credit seems to get what he wants from his defense in and around his box. I feel that it is something you get with age however, and am confident De Gea will learn as he matures. Being brought in as a baby in GK terms can't help.
But how much will he learn if he is sat on the bench. Does Fergie stick with him? He must know that mistakes are sure to crop up as the keeper develops. Hell Van Der Sar made a shocker last year against Fulham, (I think) fumbiling the ball in to his own net. You can't blame that on inexperience. The same goes with Pepe Reina against CIty last night. If that was United's Spanish keeper instead of Liverpool's, you can be sure the youngster would be crucified! But how many mistakes is he allowed before he is dropped? TItles and silverware is at stake when you play for a club like Manchester United. Any more mistakes and you might as well gift wrap the title across the cIty of Manchester.
A solution to the development and the aim of winning the Premier league? In my eyes it is simple. I feel you have to play Lindergaard in the Premier League now. I think he is a better keeper than De Gea. We cannot afford any more mistakes and cheap goals that cost us games like against Blackburn.
So for De Gea to get games I feel we should play him in Europa action and even possibly the FA Cup. That way he gets experience against solid teams. He might gewt physically tested if he plays against lower division teams in the cup too, providing we can get past City in the 3rd round.
Either way Fergie has a big decsision to make I feel. What are your thoughts? Do you think Lindegaard should play in a couple of hours against Newcastle? We will find out in a couple of hours.