Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea described his side’s form as unacceptable, while fuming post-match about their displays this term after a 1-0 away loss to Newcastle on Sunday leaves them two points above the relegation zone, eight games into the 2019-20 season.
19-year-old midfielder Matty Longstaff capped a fantastic league debut by scoring the winning goal for strugglers Newcastle, who themselves recorded their second win of the campaign.
When questioned by Sky Sports, de Gea had this to say: “I think a lot of things [need to] improve. They were the better team today, it’s a hard moment for us, a difficult moment but we are United – we need to keep fighting.
Probably it’s the most difficult time since I’ve been here, I don’t know what’s happening. We cannot score even one goal in [the last] two games, it’s difficult to say something. Sorry to the fans.”
Longstaff celebrates his winning goal against Manchester United on his first PL start. (Picture source: MEN)Having signed a contract extension worth £13.5m-a-year last month – roughly equating to £250kpw after tax – the Spanish international’s post-match comments will come as an unexpected but necessary wake-up call after a forgettable campaign thus far.
£80m centre-back signing Harry Maguire headed wide in the first-half from United’s best opportunity and although under-fire manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came to his defence, he also echoed de Gea’s points while stressing the lack of confidence within their team right now.
“We didn’t create enough chances to deserve the win. It was such a disappointing performance, particularly first-half. I’d like to say sorry to the fans that we’re not winning games.
The second-half was better but decision-making not good enough. Confidence is a big thing, at the moment when decisions need to be made, the players don’t make it instinctively and that’s affecting everyone.”
Since their stunning 4-0 opening weekend win over Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, United have only recorded three wins in ten matches across all competitions. 1-0 victories against Leicester and Astana in mid-September were expected yet unspectacular, though their form has stalled dramatically since their whirlwind debut display against the Blues.
They were held to draws against Wolves and Southampton while a 2-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace certainly took a dent to their pride – especially after Daniel James’ equaliser just before second-half stoppage time was immediately cancelled out via Patrick van Aanholt late on.
de Gea has conceded nine goals this term and having suffered a significant dip in form over the last 18 months, it’s only continued to haunt the 28-year-old as he enters the peak years of his career.
Failing to concede preventable goals, increasingly frequent shaky moments at the back and not exuding the same match-winning confidence he once did, plenty of questions were asked of United’s lucrative decision to reward his loyalty and quality with a bumper deal.
Ultimately with top European clubs still monitoring his situation, it was inevitable that they’d look to secure his future – but timing couldn’t be worse at a time when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finds himself struggling for a settled starting eleven, persistent injuries to key players and a bloated side who haven’t improved despite spending £145m this summer.
Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and James all arrived with their respective strengths and weaknesses – but memorable departures and frustrated squad has not helped matters.
United’s first match upon returning from the international break is none other than Premier League leaders Liverpool, before away games against Partizan (Europa League), Norwich and Chelsea (EFL Cup) finish the month of November.
de Gea meanwhile, will join his Spain teammates for their upcoming Euro 2020 qualification fixtures against Norway and Sweden on October 12 and 15 respectively.
Quotes’ source: The Guardian