David de Gea has been at the forefront of all the criticism raining down upon Manchester United right now.
Even before a ball had been kicked in the Premier League this season, serious questions were being asked of De Gea’s ability to play the kind of possession-based football that Erik ten Hag demands.
Would United‘s number one have the ball-playing chops to kickstart moves from his own penalty area, bypass presses with accurate long balls and make quick decisions under pressure with the ball at his feet?
De Gea’s 2022/23 woes
Well, it really does feel like a case of ‘so far, so poor,’ from the Spanish shot-stopper as he’s started his 12th season at Old Trafford in truly alarming form.
De Gea looked incredibly uncomfortable delivering Ten Hag’s style of play during the opening 2-1 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion, dropping a performance so shaky that it was slammed in disasterclass ‘highlights’.
However, things went from bad to worse during the humiliating 4-0 loss to Brentford on Saturday evening with De Gea not only extending his ball-playing woes, but also coming undone from a shot-stopping perspective too.
Even when De Gea is at his most vulnerable with the ball at his feet, you can usually still rely on him to pull off five, six or seven world-class saves, but even his finest talent seemed blunted at the Brentford Community Stadium.
De Gea’s poor display vs Brentford
That’s because it was a terrible error from the ex-Atletico Madrid man that got the party started for the Bees as he allowed Josh Dasilva’s speculative effort to squirm underneath his body.
Then, De Gea more than played a role in Brentford’s sophomore strike as he threw Christian Eriksen under the bus with a poor pass having not taken his own goal-kick, culminating in Mathias Jensen poaching the most unlikely of goals.
And while you’d be hard-pressed to blame De Gea for Brentford’s third or fourth goals, there’s no denying that his general distribution and passing was simply not up to scratch on the night.
De Gea gives admirable interview
But despite all of that, De Gea still showed what a great leader he is amongst the United dressing room by facing up to the media when so many players in his position would have understandably kept their head down.
It’s not the first time that De Gea has stood in front of the microphone after a tough result for United, but this was something different entirely, because he himself played such a large role in the debacle.
And credit to the 31-year-old for fronting up to the tough questions that came his way, not shying away from taking responsibility and delivering a highly self-critical interview from which he gained a lot of fans’ respect.
It’s no wonder either because to have such a public bad day at the office and have to answer for yourself is no easy feat, so be sure to check out De Gea’s admirable interview for yourself down below:
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) August 13, 2022
🗣️ "I think I cost three points to my team today to be honest"— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 13, 2022
David de Gea asked to do the post-match interview after a horrible day for Manchester United 🔴 pic.twitter.com/uYD65ErbQP
What now for De Gea?
Does coming out with a courageous interview heal the wounds of such a poor display? Of course not, but that doesn’t make it any less commendable on De Gea’s part for doing all he can to express his regrets to United fans.
It must take a lot of guts to face up to mistakes that you’ve made in front of tens of thousands of supporters and answer hard questions about them for the world to see.
Nevertheless, while the occupational hazard of goalkeeping that is errors like De Gea’s for the Dasilva goal happen to everyone from time to time, what is far more worrying is that the United icon seems hitherto incapable of delivering what’s expect of him by Ten Hag.
You can be the best shot-stopper in the world – and boy is De Gea exactly that when he’s on form -but if your skills are incongruous with the manager’s masterplan, then the working relationship is only ever going to function so well.
We’ll just have to wait and see whether De Gea can adapt to Ten Hag’s philosophy before it’s too late.