Peter Schmeichel: De Gea could play at United for another 10 years
David de Gea has been the best player and the face of Manchester United for a large chunk of his United career. Creating history in red is no alien feeling to him.
On Thursday against Aston Villa, the Spaniard asserted his presence in the United history books once again — pulling on the famous jersey for a 399th time and passing the great Peter Schmeichel’s appearance record.
But in spite of doing what he has done for the club, even De Gea cannot escape the heat from the fans and media sometimes. The 29-year-olds performances have been magnified under a loop ever since the Premier League emergence of Dean Henderson with every little mistake leading to more questions about his future.
Someone who certainly understands the demands that De Gea has to meet week in week out and that has been through it all is Schmeichel himself.
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The treble winner with United spoke with United Review, the official Manchester United matchday programme, ahead of Monday’s game against Southampton — and there, he tried to put De Gea’s period of uncertainty in perspective with the transition taking place at the club under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“This team is evolving under Ole and that means that David’s role is changing too,” Schmeichel said. “If you’re a goalkeeper that has been busy for years, and now you’re not busy, you have to change your game a little bit. You need to find new ways of keeping your concentration, of staying with the game.
“We want to challenge for titles and you win them with clean sheets and goals. If you make saves and keep a clean sheet, that guarantees you one point, that’s it. But if you score goals then you’ve got a better chance of winning three points, and going forward we look incredibly exciting.”
The former Danish keeper also went on to try and cool the criticism that De Gea has been receiving recently. Being a goalkeeper is arguably the most unforgiving role on the pitch and Schmeichel urges fans not to forget what United’s current No. 1 has done for the club.
“There’s no debate about it: he’s been fantastic since he came to the club,” Schmeichel said. “He’s been Player of the Year in almost half the seasons he’s been at the club, and some of the saves he has made have been absolutely phenomenal.
“There are too many to list, but obviously the free-kick from Juan Mata [at Stamford Bridge in 2012] stands out in my mind for being a turning point in his United career. From that point on, I was looking at David and thinking: ‘This guy … he’s something special.“
United are currently on a 17 match unbeaten run in all competitions and have looked like a force to be reckoned with since restart. Ultimately though, trophies define how powerful teams are and Schmeichel is confident that De Gea still has a part to play in United’s chase for glory.
“There have been trophies over the last nine years and David will want more of those before he’s done,” Schmeichel said. “He’d far rather pick up a few more winner’s medals than Player of the Year trophies, I’m certain.
“Nine years at Manchester United is a long time and reaching 400 appearances for the club is a huge landmark which very few players have managed to do, but David’s got a long way still to go. He’s a young lad. He could play on here for another 10 years. It’s been great to watch his development here and it’ll be very exciting to see him use those experiences to play a big part in United’s future.”