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From Being the ‘Undisputed no.1 in the World’ to Roy Keane Wanting to Swing Punches at him; What Went Wrong for David De Gea

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Manchester United keeper David De Gea is under immense pressure at the club and has come in under harsh criticism for his recent performances after a decline in form and a string of errors with his most recent and baffling one coming vs Tottenham after having deflected the ball into the top corner from a belter from Steven Bergwijn.

No football team in this world can depend solely on a single player to keep pushing them to glory or to keep salvaging them from near impossible situations week after week. However that is as close a comparison to De Gea’s impact at Manchester United for the most part of his career, that there can be.

To keep saving his team and manager from the routine blushes when the other 10 players are continually out of sorts and to make it look ordinary is a remarkable feet that David De Gea has done more times than we can count. The four Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year awards at his home bear testament to how he has time and time again proved himself to be the best player at the club without a shred of doubt.


David De Gea
Manchester United’s Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea / (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

However nothing lasts forever and despite all his heroics and bravery back in the day, David De Gea is nowhere near the player that he once was and his recent performances and decline is bewildering and shocking to anyone who has seen him play over the years at Manchester United.

The Spaniard, who had also come under scrutiny in 2011 was backed by Sir Alex back then by saying

”David de Gea will be even better next season”.

David De Gea did get better the next season and had never looked back since then. The then 21 year old turned into the mature and reliable captain figure in the team that Sir Alex had envisioned by growing on to become something even more valuable than the ‘Kohinoor’ itself for United faithfuls and team members alike.

However, since the Portugal vs Spain game at 2018 Fifa World Cup which ended in 3-3, it is quite evident that David De Gea hasn’t been the same player he once was and some fans have pointed out Cristiano Ronaldo’s free kick goal in the 2018 World Cup in Russia against Spain as the point from where the decline actually began.

De Gea and Spain did have a tournament to forget as they were knocked out in the Quarterfinals at the hands of the home team Russia. With De Gea in goal, Spain conceded six goals in four games and he returned back from that tournament together with his confidence shaken and the Spanish public questioning his position as No.1 in the team.

Fast forward to present day and Davis De Gea ‘s performances at times seem abject and dismal at best and his decline amply evident for all to observe. In the game against Tottenham on Friday night, David De Gea was to blame for the goal conceded as he could only parry Steven Bergwijn’s low driven shot into the roof of the net.


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Inside the Inside the Sky Sports studio for United vs Tottenham, Roy Keane was visibly infuriated as his red faced self declared that he was ‘sick to death‘ of De Gea and even claimed he would have been ‘swinging punches’ at the goalkeeper during the half-time break.

His former team mate Gary Neville was more level headed in claiming that his ‘present form was much more than just a blip’. He was quoted after the game vs Spurs as saying:

He was the one player United could rely upon for the last four years but he’s not the same,”

“He hasn’t been the same for some time. When form drops for six months it’s a blip but when it goes on for a year you start to worry. When it goes over two years it becomes more permanent” 

That is now a fair representation of what De Gea is as he’s making lots of mistakes.

“The reception he’s got in Spain has affected him. He’s even been booed by Spanish fans when he’s wearing the Spanish shirt. In the World Cup in 2018 he really struggled and from that he’s doubted himself. Mentally he’s not quite the same.”

“Mistakes like that can happen on the first game back, but it’s happening far too much over the past couple of years.”

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich is in agreement with former team-mate Neville and said,

“He has had a season that has been full of mistakes that he hasn’t made on a consistent basis in the past”.

“There is no doubt about that”.

While its fair to say that almost every goalkeeper on this planet can come under scrutiny at any point of time in their careers, certain professionals like David De Gea or say Manuel Neuer have displayed such tremendous class over the years that it seems virtually impossible for us to ever believe or admit that there is anything wrong with their performance or doubt their position in the team but is exactly what David De Gea ‘s decline at United over the past couple of years has let us to ponder.

He shipped 54 goals last season, the start of the rot, and has so far let in 31 this term. This total is already more than what it was in the four previous seasons, and there are still seven games to go.

His most notable mistake prior to this being the one against Watford where a routine Ismaila Sarr’s effort from distance was helped on its way to the back of the net in a comical clanger from David De Gea against Watford that had the entire fan base shocked in utter disbelief. That coupled with the lack of confidence displayed against Everton and this weeks lackluster effort against Spurs is sure to have the usually affable Ole Solskjaer accepting the decline and questioning his no.1 keepers future between the sticks for Manchester United.

With Dean Henderson having proven his class on loan at Sheffield United, and continuing to make waves in the Premier League albeit for a different team, his usually cemented position between the sticks may well and truly be in danger next season. How David De Gea responds to this from here on and how he once again attempts to build his career at Manchester United will only determine what the future holds for him at United.

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