Ole Gunnar Solakjaer has confirmed that under-fire goalkeeper David De Gea will keep his place as Manchester United hosts Huddersfield Town at Old Trafford on Sunday.
The Spaniard has struggled over the past few weeks, with errors leading to goals that open fresh wounds from this past summer’s World Cup, where De Gea also performed poorly. Most recently, De Gea fumbled a deep effort from N'Golo Kante on Sunday against Chelsea that led to Marcos Alonso‘s 43rd minute equalizer in the eventual 1-1 draw with Chelsea. De Gea was seen shaking his head after the mistake, leading some to speculate the mistakes could be having an effect on his mentality, but the Manchester United boss hoped to shoot that down.
“Of course we do [trust De Gea], he’s been fantastic this season,” Solskjaer said in his pre-match press conference after confirming he will start. “Towards the end now he’s been in the headlines maybe for the wrong reasons, but as I’ve said so many times he’s got to deal with that. The goalkeeping department, they’re a fantastic group together with [goalkeeping coach] Emilio [Alvarez] and Sergio [Romero] and Lee [Grant] and David, they’ve been such a tight knitted group so they’ve experienced better times obviously but he’s ready for Sunday.”
Solskjaer did conveniently mention that Sergio Romero, de Gea’s backup, has a knee injury, leaving options quite limited should they decide the Spaniard needed some time on the sidelines. The only other goalkeeper in the squad is 36-year-old Lee Grant who joined from Stoke City in the summer. 20-year-old Paul Woolston is the starter for the U-23 squad, having signed in November as a free agent.
The boss was asked whether Romero would have started if he was fit, but dodged the question, sayin, “Ifs and buts and hypothetical questions. Sergio knows how highly I rate him.”
De Gea’s struggles have mounted for some time, with errors and poor moments in big games of late. He was beaten twice at his near post in the derby against Manchester City a week ago, with Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane both scoring on shots De Gea would like to have back. He saw a Lionel Messi shot squirt right under his outstretched body as Barcelona trounced the Red Devils 3-0 in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal the week before that.
Despite the mistakes, De Gea has been a monstrous figure in goal for Manchester United for nearly the past decade. Since joining in 2011, he has made at least 28 Premier League appearances in every single season, and has hit the 34-game mark in each of the past six seasons. The 28-year-old has played every minute of the league campaign this season, but his seven clean sheets are by far the lowest of his Red Devils career, with at least 11 clean sheets in every season since moving to Old Trafford.