Was it the vote of confidence or the “dreaded vote of confidence” that Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag gave to his No. 1 David de Gea last night? Ten Hag publicly backed De Gea, in both the long and the short term, but reports emerged that he’s open to the idea of having a new first choice goalkeeper.
De Gea, 32, has been with the club for well over a decade and he’s made 500+ appearances, but he isn’t going to be around forever. They will have to move on from him sometime, and yesterday he provided a reason for United to expedite that process. Watch this:
A softball from Said Benrahma somehow got past De Gea and that goalkeeper gift to the opposition stood up as enough to give West Ham a win.
This slow roller from 20 yards out was the only goal of the game, meaning it was the howler that gave the Hammers a 1-0 win over United, an upset to say the least.
Recently, this series has been decisively one-sided against West Ham.
“He has the most clean sheets in the Premier League, so we would not be in this position without him,” Ten Hag said of De Gea told a news conference.
“So he has fully my belief, no concerns. Mistakes happen, but as a team you have to deal with it, you have to show character, be resilient and bounce back and this team will do.”
It’s true, De Gea leads the Golden Gloves race, with 15 clean sheets.
However, he keeps making gaffes and conceding howlers, like yesterday and during the 3-0 thrashing by Sevilla last month that saw United eliminated from Europa League. Now the latest De Gea howler could see the Red Devils condemned to return to that competition next season.
United has top four all but wrapped up, but then they went and regressed to their lowest form of the season, at the worst possible time.
Meanwhile Liverpool have won six in a row to cut the gap to just one point, although United still have a game in hand. De Gea is out of contract this summer, but reports indicate that he’ll re-sign. Only the minor details are reportedly left to be sorted out on that situation.
“We want him to stay and we want him to extend his contract,” Ten Hag said.
Despite the public backing from the manager, there are growing concerns about the Spaniard’s ability to remain the starter.
United are exploring some options about potentially replacing him, according to both the Manchester Evening News and ESPN. Who could that be? Dean Henderson coming back and getting another shot? A new signing in the summer transfer market? We’ll be back to cover these possibilities soon.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now. Follow the website on Twitter and Instagram.