Manchester United dropped points against Tottenham after De Gea error.
The Spaniard has been one of United’s most reliable players in the post-Ferguson era, winning the club’s Player of the Year award 4 times. He’s also featured in the PFA Team of the Year 5 times. He has bailed the Red Devils out on numerous occasions, and one can only imagine where they would be now without him.
But things have changed since the 2018 World Cup. De Gea made some high-profile errors in Spain’s opening group stage match against Portugal, a 3-3 draw, as the 2010 champions were shockingly knocked out by hosts Russia in the round-of-16.
Since then, the 29-year-old has been error-prone, costing United crucial points in several matches. While he still makes some mind-bending saves, he seems to have peculiarly lost the ability to stop shots aimed straight at him.
His performances have been one of the most decisive talking points among fans in a season of contrasting fortunes. Winter signings Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo have provided a huge boost to Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men, helping the club go unbeaten since their arrival after a terrible start to the season.
De Gea has continued to make errors though, with his latest one coming against Spurs as he failed to stop a Steven Bergwijn shot that should have been a very comfortable save.
Several fans still believe that United should stand by their keeper to repay his loyalty through one of the most difficult periods in the club’s recent history.
Normally, this wouldn’t be much of an argument. De Gea has rejected numerous advances by Real Madrid in the past few years, and he could have easily won several Champions League titles had he made the move back to his homeland.
But United are now in a period of transition where they cannot afford to drop any more points. Solskjær’s rebuild seems to be finally paying off, with Old Trafford once again showcasing some exciting, attacking football.
Against Tottenham, Fernandes’ link-up play with Paul Pogba showed a lot of promise in the brief time they shared on the pitch, while Marcus Rashford has transformed from a promising prospect into one of the best left wingers in the league.
United also have a semblance of defensive stability now after a very long time, with the summer signings of Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Most players have enjoyed a decent season so far. Fred has turned into a reliable midfielder after a disastrous debut season, Luke Shaw has enjoyed a good run of form after returning from injury, and Mason Greenwood has made his first-team breakthrough to name just a few.
Except for De Gea. Just two years ago, he would have unquestionably been one of the best keepers in the world, but now there are questions over whether he’s the best at United, let alone the Premier League.
Dean Henderson has been brilliant in his two seasons at Sheffield United, helping the Blades get promoted to the top flight, and then keeping 11 clean sheets in 29 games in his first-ever season in the Premier League.
While emotion might dictate that United should continue to keep their faith in De Gea, it would be foolish to overlook Henderson. In such a crucial period of transition, the club cannot afford to be driven by emotion. It is impossible to win trophies in modern football without being ruthless.
Take Manchester City for example. Pep Guardiola wasted no time in replacing long-term keeper Joe Hart with Claudio Bravo first, and then Ederson. Goalkeeping is now one less problem for Guardiola to deal with thanks to the ultra-reliable Brazilian.
All the top 6 clubs, with perhaps the exception of Chelsea and United, have keepers they can rely on.
United already have a solution in Henderson. The 23-year-old has made his ambitions of becoming the club’s number 1 very clear, and it’s time for United to move on from De Gea by next season at the latest.
It might even be time to hand Sergio Romero a chance in goal. The Argentine has been one of the best backup keepers in the world, helping United win the Europa League in 2017. With a very crucial run of matches that could decide the fate of their Champions League qualification coming up, United absolutely cannot afford to drop any more points due to individual errors.