There are very fine margins in football which can drastically alter the mood of a fan base.
Manchester United’s win away at Newcastle this weekend was another fine example of the phenomenon with three late goals rejuvenating supporters who had waited two weeks for a response to their humiliating defeat against Tottenham.
With five minutes still left to play of normal time United were level and the swords were being sharpened as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side faced the prospect of more dropped points ahead of a crucial week of fixtures.
Ten minutes later they had scored three times. Bruno Fernandes netted perhaps the best team goal of the Solskjaer reign, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka rifled in a third and Marcus Rashford sealed the three points in style late on.
The 4-1 win was resounding as United’s victory transformed from a hard fought three points to a canter against a Newcastle side who offered very little in the way of a threat.
In fact United set a Premier League record for the most shots in a single game this season with 28 attempts, of which half of them were on target. Newcastle’s response was seven shots of their own throughout the match, with their goal coming before they had even mustered a single one of those.
However, things could have been much different when the scores were level if not for a fine reactionary save from the faultless David de Gea to deny Callum Wilson a certain goal.
After such a long career at the top De Gea has an unenviable task in that he is rarely praised when he does well but is hammered when he makes even the smallest mistake. On Saturday night he again proved he is the best goalkeeper at United as he answered to the growing pressure from Dean Henderson on the bench.
“You can always do more, but blaming De Gea is already a bad habit,” Spain manager Luis Enrique said after his error for Spain during midweek. “If David is blamed for a game like this, switch it off and we’ll leave.”
He has a point too. Often an error from De Gea occurs on a day when the entire team have underperformed, but with such a renowned reputation it is the Spaniard who usually becomes the scapegoat for wider failure on the pitch.
MEN Sport understand the United coaching staff feel De Gea has stepped up his training at Carrington amid competition from Henderson and despite wider defensive failings he has been near flawless in the season so far.
Just as Brandon Williams helped rejuvenate Luke Shaw with the threat of genuine competition last season Henderson has done the same as a credible threat to De Gea.
With two Premier League standard ‘keepers at their disposal United are in a win-win situation regardless of who is flavour of the month, but on a weekend where the forward line have been praised for their attacking exploits it is about time De Gea gets the credit he deserves too.