Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea has been one of Manchester United’s most consistent players since signing from Atletico Madrid back in 2011.
When Sir Alex Ferguson brought in the goalkeeper, he immediately made a positive impact with his cerebral approach to the game and outrageous athleticism.
For years de Gea has been regarded as one of the top goalkeepers in the world but the last few seasons have seen a massive drop in his form for both the national side and Manchester United.
His mistake for the Tottenham goal in United’s most recent fixture has put the problem in the spotlight once again and I feel this has all reached a boiling point now.
So, in this post, I share my thoughts on how this all came about and what should de Gea’s club do to ensure their long-term stability between the sticks.
What Has Caused David De Gea’s Downfall?
If I have to answer this question with one word it will be confidence.
And I’m not only speaking about de Gea’s confidence in his own abilities. This has certainly been a part of the problem but we should also take into account the fact that the club’s defense is far from the standards that have seen Sir Alex Ferguson bag a record number of trophies during his tenure at Old Trafford.
When de Gea first arrived at the club, there was a certain fear factor when attacking Manchester United which has slowly faded since the Scottish specialist resigned from his position.
United invested heavily in defenders like Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw and albeit they are extremely talented, they just simply don’t command the same respect as figures like Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
That being said, we cannot neglect the fact that David de Gea carries a huge chunk of the responsibility for his poor form.
To be fair to him, he has always had massive pressure on his shoulders and he has handled it very well for the majority of his professional career.
Much was expected from the Spaniard ever since he first took to the pitch for Atletico Madrid and the massive transfer sum United paid for his services didn’t seem to affect him for years.
It was evident that the Red Devils won’t be the same all-conquering force that saw them win thirteen Premier League titles during Ferguson’s reign after the manager decided to retire.
However, even during the lowest points of Moyes and Van Gaal’s tenures at the club, de Gea remained stable and was arguably United’s best player for years.
He deserves to be congratulated for that achievement alone but it’s also true that the club’s bid to return to the top hit a lot of obstacles along the way and that is bound to affect the top players in the squad.
For several seasons now, what is expected of De Gea is to be the main man and practically save Manchester United when they are not in good shape, which has happened a lot since 2013.
The downside of this is that there is always a point in which the mental and physical pressure of this responsibility comes out on the surface and de Gea has been enduring the effects of this for quite a while now.
Almost every top football player in history has had a slump during their career but this looks far worse.
Roy Keane and Gary Neville have both expressed their concern for de Gea’s long-term future at the club and they are quite right to do so.
This season has seen the goalkeeper make no less than seven mistakes that have led to goals.
The Spaniard is still only 29 and has plenty of time to turn things around but the clock is ticking and given how deep the wound has become, it might well be time for a change.
Should Man United Look For a New No. 1?
I would never say that it is a good idea to simply boot out a goalkeeper of de Gea’s quality, however, given the circumstances, it looks like the best decision United can make at this point.
The club is desperate to get back to the top of the Premier League and de Gea has more than deserved his status at the club but the downward spiral has continued for far longer than expected.
Sure, he can’t take all the blame for United mishaps in recent years but there comes a time when a player simply runs his course at a football club.
I think the time has come for the Red Devils to face the music and do the right thing, which in my view is to part ways with the goalkeeper.
The good news for United is that they might not even need to search for a new number one.
Dean Henderson, currently on loan at Sheffield United, has been one of the star performers of the Premier League this season and a big reason for the Blades’ surge in the standings.
The boy is extremely talented and looks to have the right set of abilities and the confidence to take over from his Spanish counterpart.
There are always unexpected issues with such a big transition but United are now in a place where they will have to make a decision.
And unlike other EPL clubs, they have the luxury to have a ready-made replacement.
Conclusion and Final Words
To sum things up, I still think that David de Gea is a world-class goalkeeper and he has a lot of years in professional football ahead of him.
Dropping him can never be an easy decision but the way things have done in the last few years and the fact that Henderson’s stock has risen so highly might prompt United’s board to act fast.
Whatever happens, I feel the Spaniard deserves huge praise and I for one think he has made enough to be mentioned in the same bracket as legendary United goalkeepers like Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Saar.
Things could’ve panned out differently for him but I believe it is the right time for him to embark on a new adventure and give way to what could easily be England’s first-choice keeper for years to come.