At the start of the decade Sir Alex Ferguson was still Manchester United manager. He still had two more Premier League titles to win.
Since then it has been pretty much all downhill, but there has been one player who has been unerringly consistent.
David de Gea has been United’s most reliable player and standout performer, ever since he signed for the club back in 2011.
Last night for Sky Sports, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher both named De Gea in their Premier League team of the decade.
Each pundit named a separate XI. De Gea was the only Manchester United player selected by either.
No other goalkeeper comes close
De Gea was an easy pick at the goalkeeper position, due to a combination of quality and longevity.
While City and Liverpool goalkeepers Ederson and Alisson have added to the competition over the past couple of years, no goalkeeper has come close to De Gea’s sustained excellence over the past nine years he has been at the club.
He outlasted Petr Cech, who Chelsea got rid of in 2015 to Arsenal after his form had already begun to dip.
Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris has nearly matched Lloris for longevity, signing a year after De Gea, but his performances have not been at the United goalkeeper’s level.
De Gea has had a tough deal at United since Sir Alex Ferguson left.
United’s defence has been through several transitions and at times lacked real quality, putting more pressure on the Spaniard to shine.
Even with a little dip in form last season, he has been superb overall and thankfully recently signed a new contract extension.
Are any United players unlucky to miss out?
It is hard to really make a case for any United players over the past decade who have had the same sustained high level of performance De Gea had.
If we did have two or three in outfield positions, then the team would not be in the current state it is in and we wouldn’t be on our fourth manager post Fergie.
However, looking at some of the players selected by the Sky duo, there are a few ex Red Devils unlucky to be omitted.
Wayne Rooney began 2010 in the form of his life, and he had a number of great moments before he was phased out.
United’s defence of Nemanja Matic and Rio Ferdinand at their peak can match anything over the last decade, but they both left the club in 2014.
Even so, both Neville and Carragher picked Virgil van Dijk in their teams, who has only been at Liverpool for 18 months. There is a clear recency bias there. Even John Terry has a better case than the Liverpool defender.
Robin van Persie’s stunning 2012/13 season won us the title, but if judging over the whole decade, it’s hard to make a case for him in a Premier League wide XI.
However, with Neville and Carragher picking Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez in their teams, who each had a fleeting and unsustained spell at the top – winning no titles, it is fair to say that Van Persie is unlucky not to be included.
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