David de Gea is a Manchester United legend full stop. Who would have thought that the goalkeeper who had a tough 2011-12 debut season where he was dropped for second-choice goalkeeper, Anders Lindegaard, would go on to achieve legendary status at the club with a Premier League, FA Cup, 2 EFL Cups and a Europa League to go alongside his 536 appearances which is the 8th longest for the club. But sentiment has had an effect on Manchester United to make far too many mistakes and this one needs to be avoided! David de Gea should not be awarded a new contract at the club.
It’s tough to write a piece like this and probably de Gea doesn’t deserve it but Man United need to make the decision which will help kickstart the next great era of the club. The Spaniard has been United’s most loyal player and some fans have turned to time and time to save their team from a defeat. He has grown into a leader and a role model to younger players in the troubled post Fergie era of the club.
AN ISSUE THAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED IN THIS SUMMER TRANSFER WINDOW
The ‘beautiful game’ constantly sees new tactics, new innovations and new ideas being put forward. Be it a forward, a midfielder and a defender and also for the goalkeeper, new ways are constantly used to get an advantage over the opposition.
For all the heroic and jaw dropping saves de Gea has made over the years, the one thing he has never been good at is with the ball at his feet. This issue has been difficult to solve as young players could be molded and evolved to learn and play a particular style of football but it’s tough to do the same for a veteran who has played his game in a certain manner. New boss Erik ten Hag has been trying to evolve this Manchester United into a modern day high possession and pressing side and this requires the participation of goalkeepers by kickstarting the game from the goal.
Ferguson, David Moyes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jose Mourinho all were okay with the Spaniard kicking the ball long but most of these efforts would end up in possession taken away by the opposition and the modern day ‘big Premier League side’ cannot afford to give the ball like chocolates and candies.
Today a goalkeeper has to be great with his feet and it’s now not by choice but by nature that this characteristic should be available rather if you are not then you are in the list of uncomfortable goalkeepers which if you would have seen ten years ago was the opposite. The introduction of goalkeepers like Ederson, Alisson, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Manuel Neuer have changed the definition of a good goalkeeper.
DE GEA’S POOR BALL-PLAYING SKILLS HAVE HELD BACK THE RED DEVILS
An example of de Gea’s poor ball playing abilities could be seen in the game against Brentford at the start of the season. There were serious doubts whether we would be able to play in the way Erik ten Hag usually demands of his goalkeepers. De Gea had already committed an error which led to Brentford’s first goal when a shot from Josh Dasilva which was a routine collection for the Spaniard ended up in the back of the net. But just eight minutes later he played a soft pass to Christian Eriksen, one that Mathias Jensen pounced on in an instant to rob possession and calmly slot the second goal in the shock 4-0 thrashing.
El error en salida del United fue también un acierto del plan de partido del Brentford. Jensen, tras ver que Toney salta a De Gea (libera a central derecho), salta sobre Eriksen por su lado izquierdo, tapándole el pase al libre (Maguire), recuperando la pelota y marcando el 2-0. pic.twitter.com/fb0zYqKfSJ
— Marcos Reina (@marcosreina) August 13, 2022
Erik ten Hag recognized the players’ limitations and abandoned their plans to play out from the back and results slowly faded away the those tough memories. These issues could be brushed under the carpet for some time and if not addressed they can come back to haunt you and they did when Manchester United played Real Betis in the first leg last-16 of the UEFA Europa League. De Gea’s bad pass went straight to Juanmi which could have resulted in a lead for Betis. The Red Devils eventually came out on top 4-1 but ten Hag commented, “I can’t ignore it,” on David de Gea’s performance before praising the veteran for how far he has improved this season.
But the real reason why we were compelled to do this piece was the game against Sevilla and this game might have been an indication that Manchester United needed to move on from their legendary shot-stopper. Sevilla are having one of their worst seasons in recent years and after throwing the 2-0 lead in the first leg, The Red Devils were still expected to complete the job in Seville. But inside the first 10 minutes Maguire and De Gea combined to this an uphill battle for their team after the goalkeeper played an awkward pass to his centre-back, who was swiftly surrounded by three Sevilla players and gave the ball away, with Youssuf En-Nesyri pouncing to open the scoring. After going 2-0 up, De Gea handed the home team the tie on a silver platter when misjudged the situation, rushing out of his goal and woefully mis-controlling a long ball, with En-Nesyri on hand to capitalise again as he curled the ball around the stranded keeper and into the open net.
TRAILING BEHIND THEIR RIVALS
Teams have figured out de Gea and now have started to exploit his shortcomings. Even if the legendary shot stopper manages to finish the season with any further blunders, will United take the risk of continuing with him given the margins of top four qualifications and that of winning the Premier League are set so high. Plus playing out from the back gives the teams an advantage in possession while attacking and that means the side has to defend less.
If we look at their rivals Manchester City’s keeper Ederson and Liverpool’s Alisson are both renowned for their skill on the ball and their capacity to start attacking moves. Bernd Leno was also a great goalkeeper for Arsenal but Mikel Arteta understood that if the Gunners were to move to the next level they need an upgrade and Aaron Ramsdale’s £30 million purchase which every fan felt was an improper use of transfer funds now looks like a masterstroke due to his kicking ability.
IT’S TIME TO SAY GOODBYE
Manchester United are a club who have always valued loyalty but sometimes not knowing when to cut off a player who is declining or needs to be done due to other reasons could be dangerous. Juan Mata, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Marcos Rojo all remained at the club for far too long and the outcomes by these players was minimal in United’s football matches.
Understanding when to freshen up the squad or coaching staff has been a key part to Sir Alex Ferguson’s dynasty at Manchester United and that goes for Pep at City. Letting off Roy Keane, Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis, Jaap Stam and Ruud van Nistelrooy were some of the best examples of letting off players who were past their best and prolonging their stays at the club. Joe Hart, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko all were let off when others thought they were wrong to do so.
Planning for the future is an important step and we think it is time for United to end ties with de Gea who is looking to stay at the club at reduced wages from an astonishing £375,000 per week. A player who has been loved so much at the club by the fans who have always stuck by him through tough times and the Spaniard who has always had United in his heart has delivered on the faith shown to him but it is time to thank him for 12 years of outstanding services bid him farewell and recruit a top, young goalkeeper who can help take the team in the direction Ten Hag wants them to go.