Monday 23 December 2019

David de Gea living off his reputation now

There can be no doubt that David de Gea deserves to be mentioned in the pantheon of Manchester United's greatest goalkeepers. He's right up there with Harry Gregg, Alex Stepney, Edwin van der Sar and Peter Schmeichel to name but four as among the best gloveman ever to grace the Old Trafford pitch. De Gea would easily walk into any domestic or European select XI as the 'best of'. I've lost count of the number of times he has single handedly rescued us from a self-inflicted fate. He has defied gravity and logic on countless occasions and has been a class act as our most prized asset and only world class player.

In a United side seemingly in a constant state of flux, there has been one man to stand as a symbol of consistency and calm. Amidst the darkness, one man has been the solitary lone beacon of light. He's been nigh on untouchable as the best keeper on the planet for the last three or four years. But as United have plateaued over the last 18 months, De Gea's form has followed suit.

 No longer Mr Reliable, his error against Watford was the second successive match where a mistake directly led to an opposition goal. Although he could consider himself unfortunate against Everton, when replays showed he was impeded, he failed to get enough height to clear the ball, was outmuscled far too easily and it ended up striking him before rolling into the net via Victor Lindelof. Against the Hornets, Ismaila Sarr's miscued, underhit effort should have been food and drink for a goalkeeper of De Gea's standing.
Instead, inexplicably, it squirmed through his arms, bounced off his face, struck the post and dropped in. It was the latest in a series of high profile gaffes, following on from similar blunders against Palace, Aston Villa, Sheffield United, and West Ham this season alone, as well as the aforementioned draw with Everton. Not to mention Arsenal (twice), Manchester City, Chelsea, Barcelona and Everton off the top of my head last term.  Cracks have appeared where there appeared to be none. To me, it seems that this all started with a woeful World Cup in which he was made the scapegoat for La Roja's earlier than expected exit.

Of course, De Gea is only human. Every player makes mistakes and it doesn't mean you suddenly become useless overnight. But his form has become a huge worry. Aaron Wan - Bissaka made a rare abberation when he felled Sarr for Watford's penalty and resultant second goal, the first tackle he has missed all season. But De Gea's error was all too familiar. He's been error strewn for 18 months now and - with the uncertainty over his contract - it was perhaps understandable. But with that behind him and a new deal penned, there has been no sign of an upturn in fortunes. Having elevated himself to such lofty standards, he has become a victim of his own success.

Since the start of 2018/19, he has made the most errors out of all the Premier League stoppers. Right now, he is living off his reputation.

As well as too many errors, he can't command his area, he doesn't come off his line or go for crosses, his distribution is poor and he hasn't saved a Premier League penalty since October 2014 when he kept out Everton's Leighton Baines. Troy Deeney continued that trend yesterday with his trademark blast down the middle with De Gea all at sea. Surely a good goalkeeper studies opponents and puts a plan in place?

Sergio Romero, in contrast, has kept 32 clean sheets in 51 games for the Reds and has never made a mistake whenever he's played. It's time to give him a run and remove De Gea from the spotlight.

Ole's faith in de Gea is admirable but can't continue. Dean Henderson at Sheffield United would be a better fit at present.

The De Gea problem is the last thing the Reds and Solskjaer need right now.

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