What has gone wrong for De Gea? From world’s best to laughing stock
April 30, 2019
The Spaniard has been Manchester
United’s best player for the past five years – but there are now calls for him
to be dropped after a series of errors
They have been the most
uncharacteristic of mistakes.
A tame Lionel Messi shot from 20
yards went right under his body, Leroy Sane’s near-post effort found him
flat-footed, and a pot-shot from distance was spilled straight into the path of
David de Gea’s desperately poor run
of form has been depicted by three errors in four games and now many people are
calling for him to be dropped, with some even suggesting that an exit to Real
Madrid this summer would be no great loss after all.
Such is the life of a goalkeeper, even the one who has been Manchester
United’s indisputable Player of the Year in four of the previous five seasons.
His record over 360 games in the United goal is of no import anymore; it’s
only the last four matches that matter to the armchair managers who deal only
in superlatives and absolutes. To them, he has become a figure of fun rather
than the sport’s best shot-stopper, as he was almost unanimously acclaimed
until very recently.
The Spain No.1 is clearly in a rut. The string of mistakes he has made say
as much, and his run of 12 appearances without a clean sheet is the longest
such streak of his United career.
But to look at previous such spells is to uncover a trend which sees the
28-year-old struggling amid uncertainty.
De Gea failed to record a shut-out in 11 straight games in the 2012-13
season shortly after being deposed as Sir Alex Ferguson’s first-choice by
The Dane had been picked for four straight Premier League games before De
Gea came in for a 3-0 win at Newcastle but his next 11 matches would be
interspersed with six appearances for Lindegaard as Ferguson failed to nail
down an undisputed No.1 during a spell in which United conceded 29 goals in 17
The Spaniard would again go 11 games without keeping the opposition out in
2015 either side of his near-miss transfer to Real Madrid.
He had gone seven without a shut-out at the end of the 2014-15 campaign and
then was party to an eighth when being substituted due to a hamstring injury against
Arsenal on a day when the Old Trafford crowd spent much of their afternoon
begging him not to head to the Santiago Bernabeu.
After Louis van Gaal had decided to leave out the ‘distracted’ De Gea at the
start of the following season, the failed move to Madrid saw the goalkeeper
sign a new deal and he returned to the starting line-up against Liverpool in
the September, going three more matches before recording a clean sheet.
It has been during periods when clarity has been missing in his personal
situation that De Gea has struggled the most in his eight-year spell at United,
and as such it comes as no surprise that he has been far from his best of late.
With his contract approaching its final 12 months, United have so far
refused to meet his wage demands.
The talk is that De Gea and his agent Jorge Mendes are insisting that the
No.1’s new deal reflects the higher pay threshold established when Alexis
Sanchez arrived at Old Trafford for a back-busting £390,000 a week in January
2018. United, though, don’t want that to become the norm.
In the meantime, uncertainty reigns, and it can hardly have helped matters
that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made multiple changes to his defensive line of
late. Only in the first two matches of the recent 12-game spell have United
retained the same back-line in front of De Gea, with a total of 10 different
defensive selections in the dozen matches in question.
Solskjaer rightly remains adamant that De Gea will not be dropped.
“David has been unbelievable. We support each other,” the manager said after
the draw with Chelsea. “There is no chance anyone can blame him for losing
points, he knows he could have had that shot but that is football.
“David is someone who likes to play games and I will have chats with
him and he will respond in the right way.”
Meanwhile, with his future still not
sorted, United now risk losing their best player and creating an issue for
themselves in the one department on the pitch which has been of no concern
While there has been much talk of
Sergio Romero’s quality as a back-up keeper, the Argentine has hardly been
infallible when he has had a run in the side during his four years at the club.
The truth of the matter is that De
Gea is not just the best option United have, he remains among the very best in
He has made vital errors in games of late but so did Lev Yashin and Dino Zoff and Gordon Banks. Just because their careers didn’t occur during the Twitter generation, with every piece of action being analyzed on repeat for a week at a time, that doesn’t mean they were infallible.
As former Liverpool boss Graeme
Souness so succinctly put it to Sky Sports on Sunday: “If you leave him
out, you lose him forever,” and it is time United put an end to the lingering
doubts and backed their greatest player of the post-Ferguson era.
Give him the contract he deserves,
put the uncertainty in the past, and let him go out onto the pitch with a clear
head and a secure future.
way to get the best out of David de Gea, and having the best David de Gea is a
luxury few clubs could dream of.