In Focus: Why De Gea is central to Rangnick's Red Devils revolution
The last seven months have been quite a ride for David de Gea as he has gone from villain to hero for Manchester United.
In May, the Spaniard missed the decisive spot-kick as the Red Devils lost the Europa League final to Villarreal.
That miss compounded a miserable season for De Gea, who found himself in and out of the side with Dean Henderson often preferred by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
But United’s No1 has fought back with a vengeance, becoming a key man for Solskjaer and now interim manager Ralf Rangnick.
Ahead of tonight's trip to Newcastle, we take a look at De Gea’s road to redemption.
Getting knocked down and getting back up again
Even before that Europa League final defeat, there were rumours linking De Gea with a move away from Old Trafford in the summer.
But it quickly became apparent that the former Atletico Madrid custodian would be staying put for an 11th season with United.
Judging by his performances this term, the disappointment of that night in Gdansk has made him more determined than ever to reclaim his position as United’s undisputed first choice in goal.
With Henderson missing the start of the season due to coronavirus, De Gea got the nod — and he has not looked back.
There through it all
After joining United in June 2011 for a then British-record fee for a goalkeeper, De Gea is one of the longest-serving players at the club.
Only Phil Jones, who has not made a first-team appearance for almost two years, has been there longer.
That experience can be an invaluable asset to a relatively young side in need of leadership out on the pitch — as they so often were under Solskjaer.
United no longer look rudderless with Rangnick at the helm but De Gea’s experience can still bring a lot to the cause as they look to keep steering the ship in the right direction.
In a show of his leadership qualities, De Gea did not pull any punches when dissecting United’s performance in the 4-1 defeat at Watford last month — the result which sealed Solskjaer’s sacking.
He said: "I think it was embarrassing the first half, to be honest. It’s not acceptable the level that we showed today.
"We’re in a difficult moment. Sorry again, once again to the fans. That is not acceptable from us."
Big saves at big moments
While the Red Devils’ attack has stuttered, De Gea has pulled out all the stops to keep his team in games.
Even when their defence has failed, the veteran has done his best to give United a fighting chance.
That is exactly what happened at Watford, where the 31-year-old saved Ismaila Sarr’s retaken penalty, twice.
Perhaps most symbolic of De Gea’s resurgence was his showing away to Villarreal in the Champions League.
Delicately poised at 0-0, he produced two fine stops to give United the foundations to go on and record a 2-0 win which secured their place in the last 16.
Getting those gloves dirty
Before Matchweek 19, only five keepers had faced more shots on target in the Premier League this season than De Gea (71). He has been busy, making 53 saves at a rate of 3.31 per 90.
Seven of those came in October’s 4-2 loss at Leicester alone. On only nine occasions this term has a Premier League keeper had to make more in a single game.
At times, you really have had to wonder how bad things might have been for United without De Gea bailing them out.