David De Gea or Anders Lindegaard? It's a necessary decision that Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson seems to be shying away from at present. Last month he revealed that "alternating is not a problem for me. That's the policy I have been adopting and I'm comfortable with it.”
Rotation may be a good concept in theory for Sir Alex, but in reality surely all it does is diminish the confidence of both players? If, like against Galatasaray in the Champions League, de Gea has a real barnstormer, keeping his team in the game with acrobatic saves, he is then dropped for the next game - is that really going to help his mind-set? The same goes for Anders Lindegaard, who is yet to concede a goal at Old Trafford in his Man Utd career
De Gea may be the fashionable choice out of the two, but Lindegaard has shown a steady assurance in between the sticks that prevents him from making the kind of erratic mistakes like de Gea's against Fulham in the Premier League
The difference in the players' price tags, at least for now, doesn't appear to be as important a factor in Sir Alex's mind as some would make out. The £3.5 million paid for Lindegaard is already looking like a bargain, while the £17m paid for de Gea has yet to show real dividends. That's not to say that the latter isn't the Red Devils' number one option going forward, he is - most definitely. The weaknesses in the 21-year-old's game will need to be ironed out first, but he is certainly made of the right stuff to become one of the top ‘keepers in Europe for years to come.
Lindegaard, on the other hand, is 28 years of age and nearing his peak as a player. So why the fuss? If there's little to split the two, why does the better long-term option not have the edge? Simple - reliability. Sir Alex does not trust David de Gea yet in the same way that he would trust Peter Schmeichel or Edwin van der Sar, even after either made a game-changing mistake as they periodically did.
You can talk all you want about the Stokes and the West Hams of the league - bruisers who are likely to give a 6ft 4in ‘keeper who's all skin and bone a torrid time of it - but de Gea's most recent error that resulted in a Nemanja Vidic own goal wasn't a result of his being bullied in his own area, it was just poor decision-making.
Granted, he had a cracking second half of last season, and one could make the legitimate point that his performances alone should have seen him made the automatic number one for this campaign too. But such is Sir Alex's lack of trust in the young goalkeeper, he makes one costly error and he's straight out of the team for the next game. A player like de Gea is never going to improve on the basics if he's not playing week-in, week-out. The one game on, one game off rotation schedule just doesn’t work for the young Spaniard. It may for Lindegaard, but not for de Gea.
If United aren't going to put their faith in him now, they risk damaging the confidence of one of their young jewels, perhaps permanently. Anders Lindegaard may feel hard done by, and rightly so, but his relegation to the bench would be a necessary evil. David de Gea must be Manchester United's number one ‘keeper - it's that simple. There may not be room for mistakes at Old Trafford, but in David de Gea's case, the potential rewards far outweigh the negatives.
Man Utd, Goalkeepers, De Gea, Lindegaard