Kevin Pilkington Column : De Gea Only As Good As His Defence

Much of the talk about Manchester United’s team this season has been about their defending. It has brought David De Gea’s form into focus. There is the old saying that a goalkeeper is only as good as his defence and that’s something I believe.

If you have a solid foundation in front of you, you know that you can trust them and they can trust you. But, ultimately, as a goalkeeper you have to do your job. Whatever team you play in a goalkeeper’s role hardly changes. Obviously some teams like to play out a bit more but the end goal is to stop the opposition scoring. It’s about trusting the players in front of you and creating a understanding of what each other is capable of so I think it’s very important.

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There has been some criticism of De Gea with the stat about him conceding so many from his last few shots faced at international level. No player is blameless. Every player could do more to help out the team and I’m sure De Gea will be analysing his performances to see what he can improve on.

There was some talk that he could be named captain after the retirement of Michael Carrick. People question whether goalkeepers can make good captains but I think they can and there’s enough evidence. Big Peter Schmeichel showed that in his day. I have been captain as well – you can see the whole picture from where you stand as a goalkeeper so there is no reason why they should be considered any less of a captain.

David could have done a very good job but I can see why, in the absence of Antonio Valencia, Jose Mourinho chose Paul Pogba. It gives him more responsibility on the pitch and hopefully that will help him improve his performances for United.

David’s had a reputation as the world’s best goalkeeper and that will be challenged this season after two transfer records were broken at Liverpool and Chelsea. And of course there is Ederson who has a big reputation now over at City. De Gea for me is still definitely in the top 3 or 4. It’s a bit of a golden age for goalkeeping with Manuel Neuer, Allison, Ederson and Jan Oblak who are all very good and you still have the legend that is Gianluigi Buffon still playing!

As am I — you might have noticed that I was on the bench for Cambridge on the first day of the season. I’m never going to retire! On a serious note, I’m registered in case of emergencies, but I’m really enjoying my experience as a coach, as well as the opportunities to play for United’s legends teams. I watched on wide-eyed as United were beaten 4-0 at the Nou Camp in 1994 so to play there last year against Rivaldo and Ronaldinho was brilliant.

Nonetheless, I’m very proud to maintain my record of being the last of the ‘Class of 92’ to still be playing professionally. I might not have had the big career that some of the boys have had but I’ve always looked after myself and enjoyed it and to say I played my last professional game at 42 is a credit to my dedication. I still think I’ve got one more in me, too!

Class of 92 goalkeeper. Currently Cambridge United goalkeeping coach and still playing.

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