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Decrypting the David de Gea debacle at Manchester United

Written by: Waseem Zaidi

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With his contract running down, the Red Devils' shot-stopper has endured one of his most difficult seasons at Old Trafford yet.

Manchester United is one of those clubs that has historically always had a reliable, top-class player between the sticks. From the time of Peter Schmeichel to Edwin van der Sar and now David de Gea. Since Manchester United’s debacle ensued post the Sir Alex Ferguson era, there has been only one constant source of consistency and solidity, the exceptionally talented custodian - David de Gea.

The Spaniard is the all-time leading recipient of the prestigious Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award, having won it four times since 2014, barring the one time in 2017. The obvious conclusion that can be made is that David de Gea has been the best player at MUFC for the last 5 years.

However, the continued fall from grace for the Red Devils and its repercussions are now finally seeping through to their star-keeper, who looked to be resistant to the air of negativity surrounding the club in the past few seasons.

David de Gea's blunder allowed Marcos Alonso to score the equaliser, jeopardizing Manchester United's hopes for a top-four finish

The howlers from David de Gea are a glaring fact that something is amiss with the keeper. Claimed to be one of the best goalkeepers of the current generation, the uncharacteristic nature of the goals he has been conceding is alarming, to say the least.

It all began with the mistake against Arsenal back in March when a long-range shot from Granit Xhaka left him flat-footed with too much of an ease, then the next Premier League defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers saw David completely lose track of the ball for the second goal, the second-leg against FC Barcelona saw David let a loose right-footed shot from Lionel Messi pass from underneath his clutches for the second morale-crushing goal in a 3-0 loss that crashed out United of the UEFA Champions League.

Moving on, the horrendous 4-0 defeat at the hands of Everton, the second goal conceded against Manchester City and the mishandling of a long-range shot that allowed Marcos Alonso of Chelsea to score the leveller and end United’s hopes of a top-four finish in the league table.

The final two games against relegated teams in Huddersfield and Cardiff City also let him wide open at the goal, ending MUFC's campaign in the sixth position, conceding 52 times in the season. These goals have come in a time where de Gea was needed more than ever.



As a result, lots of pertinent questions are raised as to what exactly is the issue with David de Gea who is now emulating his disastrous international form at the club level as well.

The speculation is that the 28-year-old is not happy at the club amidst the series of failed contractual negotiations. It has been reported that David de Gea wants his wages escalated to the level that is being paid to Alexis Sanchez, which is in the region of £350,000 a week. 


All the mistakes of the season from the Spaniard


The club is clearly unwilling to further increase the already soaring wages and the resulting conflict has somewhere unsettled the keeper, which has now started to affect his on-field composure. After triggering an extra-year clause in David de Gea’s contract, MUFC have bought some more time to sort the mess out, because allowing a player of his calibre to leave on a free would a miscalculation of epic proportions.

Football pundits have also pointed out that the Spanish international seems like a player on the lookout for new challenges. Manchester United are far from challenging for the Premier League title, let alone winning it.

With another squad overhaul in the offing, the resulting rebuilding might take a couple more years minimum and the Spaniard might not have the patience. A club that is sure to win trophies domestically at least will surely tempt David to push for a move. The rumoured move to Real Madrid is seeming like a far-fetched dream for the Spanish shot-stopper due to the dwindling form he finds himself in.

Once a saviour, has now become a liability. The stats prove a grim reading and serve as damning evidence of how poor the United keeper has been in general. Nine keepers have kept more Premier League clean sheets than him this term.

Huddersfield Town have kept more clean sheets at home than Manchester United. A mere seven clean sheets is the worst- ever performance for the Spaniard in the Premier League.



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It is essential for Manchester United to medicate this festering issue in the summer. Either give in to his wage demands or sell him for a fee while he is still under contract. The manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, expectedly has backed his keeper, by referring to David’s years of excellent service and downplaying his recent performances as nothing but a dip in form.

Scores of players like Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku, including club legends such as Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney have voiced out their unquestionable support towards David de Gea.



It is important to note, however, for the first time in recent years, the United fan-base stands divided on their star keeper. Where some fans are standing by him, some fans have also called for him to be dropped and replaced with the more than capable Sergio Romero who has rarely disappointed whenever given the chance.

At a time where Manchester United needs to make a lot of important decisions in the summer regarding personnel, David de Gea must be at the top of the priority list for the higher-ups.

Published: Thu May 16, 2019 05:26 PM IST

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