With a little over a month left in the summer transfer window, it’s still uncertain whether or not we’ll see ‘Manchester United have signed [insert desired target here]’ at least one more time before the window shuts. Given what David Gill said earlier this week, the chances are more in favor of it occurring than some feel, but that’s something we won’t find out for certain until after United have returned to English soil. So, for the moment, there’s only so much that can be said, speculated, and guestimated about who, if/when, and why/why not.
As for the players currently in the side, quite a few have made noteworthy contributions to the 100% mark that United have heading into the final match of this summer’s five-match U.S. tour, tomorrow night’s highly-anticipated clash with Barcelona.
In case it was hard to keep up, United scored 18 goals in the four wins over New England, Seattle, Chicago, and the David Beckham-led MLS All-Stars. 11 different scorers have accounted for that impressive haul, led by a quartet from Wayne Rooney, who’s in line for a fantastic season if his preseason form is anything to go by. Also in that bunch of scorers are Federico Macheda, Gabriel Obertan and Danny Welbeck, both of whom have made positive impressions in their quest to prove themselves worthy of more regular first-team opportunities this season.
It’s safe to say that we won’t have to worry about where the goals will come from, although it wouldn’t hurt to add someone who can only further United’s potency and productivity in attack (like a certain set-piece savvy Dutchman, for example).
But one area where there is still somewhat of a question mark, and from the looks of it, a definite position battle for at least the short term, is at keeper.
David de Gea has been brought in to be United’s #1 of the future, and he might make that spot his sooner rather than later, especially if he produces a quality performance against Barcelona, a team the former Atletico Madrid man knows a thing or two about.
However, Anders Lindegaard is doing his best to state a claim to starting out the Premier League season as United’s #1, and Fergie handing the reins to the former Aalesund shot-stopper, even for only a few starts, could be a sound move.
One thing that certainly works in Lindegaard’s favor is that he has quite the head start on De Gea.
United swooped for Lindegaard late last November, and although he didn’t officially become a United player until January, he came in December and was able to train with his new teammates, thereby getting a jump on acclimating himself and making a positive impression even before he could officially suit up for the club.
He was able to log FA Cup stars against Southampton and Crawley Town, and he might have been able to log a few more appearances as well, but a knee injury and subsequent surgery caused him to lose some valuable developmental time. But he’s overcome that minor injury setback to, at the very least, cement himself as the #2, all but ensuring that former backup Tomasz Kuszczak will leave the club sometime before the end of next month.
With De Gea not joining up with the squad until Seattle and being eased into action after a busy June with Spain’s title-winning U-21 team, Lindegaard was given the start against New England, Seattle, and the MLS All-Stars.
Lindegaard played the full 90 minutes only in the 4-1 win over New England, with Ben Amos replacing him at halftime in his other two starts, but he has made the most of his time on the pitch. He hasn’t had as much to do as he likely would in a Premier League match, but he has done what’s required of him, and that includes making quality saves on Wednesday night to deny a couple of blistering long-range efforts. It’s a small sample size, sure, but you have to like what you’ve seen thus far.
Could It Aid De Gea’s Development?
By the time United open the Premier League season at West Brom in a fortnight, De Gea will have been with his new team less than a month, and at this point, it’s reasonable to wonder whether or not he’ll be ready. Now, he could produce performances against Barcelona and against City in the Community Shield a week from Sunday that eliminate any concerns about his readiness, but it’s quite possible that Fergie could turn to Lindegaard while De Gea fully settles in.
De Gea is certainly talented enough to start from the outset and not relinquish his position for a long, long time, but he doesn’t have to be and won’t be rushed. There’s still the matter of increasing his grasp of English to better his communication skills with his teammates, which is something that could play in any decision. It looked like he communicated and commanded well in his start against the Fire, but the starts against Barca and City, when he’ll have much more to do, will be more telling.
Making transitions in-season isn’t always easy, but this isn’t a situation where struggles could force a change or player egos could make things messy. Lindegaard is well aware that De Gea wasn’t brought in to sit for long, if at all, and I’m sure he’ll step in and do his best if given the opportunity and then silently step aside when De Gea is ready, if he isn’t immediately.
With Lindegaard having the edge in familiarity and having proven that he can be a more than capable fill-in until De Gea’s fully ready to take over, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Dane starts some early matches. And it might actually be the best move, especially with the future in mind.