What’s not to love about David de Gea? Manchester United’s goalkeeper might appear to have it all: a humongous salary, a lovely family, a sensationally beautiful wife, Edurne Garcia, who is a star in her own right in Spain, and a pleasing ability to behave like a complete berk. He is a mix of utter brilliance and complete rubbish.
Last week he made a series of terrible errors, backed up by a woeful Harry Maguire, to gift Sevilla a Europa League tie that United should have won quite easily. Then at the weekend he was magnificent in the FA Cup semi-final, keeping United in a game that Brighton should have won.
But wait, he can’t save penalties! On Sunday, he went the wrong way every time before Solly March shot over the top, and de Gea’s mates could (just) take the win and the place in the final. The last time United crashed out of Europe, against Villareal, de Gea failed to save ten penalties. Being the 11th man he then had to take one himself, which he of course missed, Villareal scored their 11th and that was it for United in the final. He may be crazy, David de Gea, but no one can deny he adds to the gaiety of nations.
Some pursed lips over a few empty seats at Wembley on Saturday for the first semi-final, Manchester City’s inevitable burial of Sheffield United. But I’m not surprised: it’s a staggeringly expensive day out for City’s fans and, more importantly, it’s an absolute dog of a place, hard to get to and even harder to leave.
That’s unusual these days though. In those long-ago times of pounds, shillings and pence and bobbies on bicycles, our football stadiums were pretty dour, uncomfortable and sometimes downright dangerous places.