Gary Neville believes David de Gea’s drop in form is more serious than just a blip and has urged the goalkeeper to go “back to basics”. The Man Utd goalkeeper has been criticized after letting in Steven Bergwijn’s shot during the 1-1 draw with Tottenham in the Premier League.
De Gea let the ball through his hands to concede in United’s 1-1 draw against Spurs, with former United captain Roy Keane leading the fierce criticism of the Spanish international. Keane said he was “sick to death of this goalkeeper”, though Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stood by his No.1 when asked about Keane’s comments after the game. The numbers do not make good reading as De Gea has now made seven errors leading to opposition goals since the start of last season – the joint-most among Premier League players. Neville has now urged De Gea to simplify his game after pinpointing the goalkeeper’s international form as the catalyst for a downturn in his United performances. Neville believes David de Gea hasn’t been the same since his 2018 World Cup horror show with Spain. “He was the one player United could rely upon for the last four years but he’s not the same,” he said on his own Sky Sports podcast. “He hasn’t been the same for some time. When form drops for six months it’s a blip but when it goes on for a year you start to worry. When it goes over two years it becomes more permanent. That is now a fair representation of what De Gea is as he’s making lots of mistakes. Ones he would never make – he was always somebody you could completely rely upon. It can only be a confidence thing. The arms, legs and body are the same – it’s got to be the mind. The reception he’s got in Spain has affected him. He’s even been booed by Spanish fans when he’s wearing the Spanish shirt. In the World Cup in 2018 he really struggled and from that he’s doubted himself. Mentally he’s not quite the same.”
De Gea won United’s player of the season award in three consecutive years between 2014 and 2016, and then a record fourth time in 2018, but Neville now wants the goalkeeper to work harder to keep his spot as the club’s first choice goalkeeper. Dean Henderson has shone on loan with Sheffield United in the past two years and has been tipped by many to take De Gea’s place in the team next season. “He’s got to go back to basics,” added Neville. “There’s only one thing you can do when you’re having a tough time: work. Work harder than you have ever done in your life. What will happen is that you will tell yourself the amount of work you put in you deserve to be good again. That means coming in at 7.30am and leaving at 6pm if needs be. He has to do something to stop the erosion. Mistakes like that can happen on the first game back but its happening far too much over the past couple of years.” Former Manchester United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich is in agreement with former team-mate Neville and believes the Spain international needs to address a technical flaw to improve his shot stopping. “He has had a season that has been full of mistakes that he hasn’t made on a consistent basis in the past,” Bosnich told Sky Sports News. “There is no doubt about that. In terms of the goal against Tottenham, a lot of people obviously are talking about the delivery that Roy Keane made. But the bottom line is whether you agree with the way he delivered it or not that is Roy’s style. It was a mistake. The most important thing, and I am sure his goalkeeper coach would know this, from a technical point of view is that there is something wrong when he sets for shots. You saw it in that [Tottenham] goal.”