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The man behind David De Gea’s success: Frans Hoek

David De Gea has been in red hot form this season, but there is much more to his success. The tireless efforts of one man has seen him rise beyond expectation.

CONTRIBUTOR
11 Jan 2015, 13:24 IST
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De Gea will now have stiff competition from Victor Valdes, who was also coached under Hoek.

Frans Hoek is a former Dutch goalkeeper and current goalkeeping coach at Manchester United. So it’s his duty to nurture and develop De Gea in to a world class keeper. But it’s not easy as we all say. Hoek has been with Van Gaal most of the times in many clubs. Here at Manchester United also, manager Van Gaal appointed Hoek as the goal keeping coach.

In Netherlands, Hoek is famous for developing his own vision and methods, which has a targeted approach for various age levels. At United, De Gea is a young keeper who is ready to change according to conditions and curious to develop match by match. Hoek's list of students includes the likes of Victor Valdes, Pepe Reina, and former United keeper Edwin van der Sar. "He (Hoek) groomed me and helped me learn all the things I needed to know to be a successful footballer over a lot of years," Van der Sar said. He added, "He should be a great help for David.”

But before we talk about Hoek’s importance, we have to credit former United goalkeeping coaches Eric Steele and Chris Woods, who helped mould De Gea. He was criticized for his positioning and reflexes, when he first arrived at United in 2011. But, Steele and Woods have worked a lot on him.

After their exit, Hoek advised De Gea new training methods, which were crucial for his career. Even though he was at his best in the last season, De Gea had faced several difficulties in aspects like physique and punching. Frans’ claim to fame is that he works on various scenarios that goalkeepers will face when distributing the ball. The emphasis is to improve goalkeeper positioning and quality of service to initiate the attack.

Frans generally defines goalkeepers into two types: reactive and pro-active. Reactive goalkeepers like German legend Oliver Kahn often stay on their line and react on goal attempts. Pro-active goalkeepers like Dutch star Edwin van der Sar are more actively involved in game situations by coming off the goal-line based on their game insight.

Hoek introduced new training methods, which includes positioning, feet usage and approaching crosses from various positions. De Gea told said “He wants us to play with our feet, the build-up is important to him." He was a coach who expected perfection. Rather than practicing goal-kicks only, Hoek expects his players to work out on more complicated aspects mentioned abo.

Comparing the stats for the last two seasons of 2013/14 and 2014/15, he had the following changes after 20 games:

Clean Sheets: 5 in 2013/14 season has increased by a small margin to 6 in 2014/15 season.

Average goals conceded: 1.20 has decreased to 1.00. Even without a strong defence, he’s a great shot-stopper.

Average Punches: Last season, 45 % of his saves were punches, compared to just 15% this season.  

Statistics indicate that De Gea has developed leaps and bounds as a goalkeeper and distributor. 

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