Manchester United is becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of consistent form showed by each of its first-team goalkeepers, David De Gea and Anders Lindegaard.
Never before has Sir Alex Ferguson rotated so regularly between two players in such a key position. Despite continued affirmations by the manager that he has two very good goalkeepers at his disposal, the constant rotation merely illustrates that he hasn't much faith in either.
Now, emerging reports in the Daily Mail suggest Sir Alex has finally lost his patience with them both.
The report claims that United is set to make an £8 million January raid for 25-year-old Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic. The 6'5" Bosnian has kept seven clean sheets this season and conceded just 15 goals in 15 games.
So would this be a sensible move for the Red Devils?
Replacing Edwin van der Sar at the end of the 2011-12 season was always going to be a challenge for the Old Trafford outfit. United won eight major trophies in his six-year tenure as No. 1, including the UEFA Champions League in 2007-08.
United had been there before. Following the exit of Peter Schmeichel in 1999, Sir Alex fielded 10 different goalkeepers before finally finding the Great Dane’s true successor in the shape of van der Sar, who was signed six years later in 2005.
Understandably, there was a big desire within the corridors of Old Trafford to avoid a similar situation occurring again once van der Sar finally decided to hang up his boots.
Sir Alex admitted that he regretted overlooking a young Petr Cech when he went to see him as a 19-year-old, and this was instrumental in his decision to take a gamble on young David De Gea. As reported in the Daily Mail,
"I went to see Petr Cech when he was at Rennes," Ferguson said. "He was 19 at the time and I said to myself, 'He's too young.' So age doesn't matter when you have the ability of a goalkeeper like Petr Cech or, we know, David De Gea has."
Regrettably, De Gea has not been an instant success at United like Cech was at Chelsea. In his second season at United, he has made only 13 first-team appearances from a possible 23 and conceded 16 goals. Equally, Anders Lindegaard has failed to cement his place as No. 1 despite many opportunities.
So the question remains: Are Manchester United’s current goalkeepers good enough to follow in the footsteps of Schmeichel and van der Sar?
Most would argue that De Gea has the raw attributes: He’s quick, composed and a great shot-stopper, but he also needs time to develop physically, improve on set-peices and fully accustom himself to the rigours of the English Premier League.
Therefore, perhaps there’s some sense in bringing in an established Premiership goalkeeper such as Begovic in order to give the young Spaniard further time to strengthen up and adapt.
One thing for sure—Manchester United cannot keep leaking goals like they are. The questionable readiness of the two goalkeepers and the continual switching of them has undoubtedly contributed to concerning defensive performances so far this season.
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