Football

Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stands by under-fire de Gea

Red Devils boss insists they will stick together after goalie's gaffes against Chelsea

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he will stick with error-prone goalkeeper David de Gea but, with a Champions League place at stake, many are urging him to drop the Spaniard.

The 29-year-old's blunders during Sunday's FA Cup semi-final at Wembley were a hammer blow for the in-form United, who went down 3-1 to Frank Lampard's Chelsea.

De Gea allowed Olivier Giroud's shot to trickle over the line in the dying seconds of the first half and, moments after the interval, Mason Mount's shot evaded his weak attempted save.

                       ePL
MAN UNITED WEST HAM

The Times described his performance as a "horror show".

Solskjaer conceded de Gea should have saved Mount's goal but stood by the player, who recently surpassed Peter Schmeichel's United appearance record for an overseas player, excluding Irish footballers.

"This isn't going to become a de Gea press conference, we're just going to stick together. David is mentally strong enough to know his job is to perform in training and be ready for games," Solskjaer said.

When asked whether he would keep faith with his No. 1 for their English Premier League clash against West Ham United tomorrow morning (Singapore time), Solskjaer replied: "Of course.

"We have been unbeaten for 19 games and both (reserve goalkeeper) Sergio (Romero) and David have played really well in that run. I can't speak for his confidence, but he is mentally very strong."

Former United defender Phil Neville told the BBC that de Gea has been unrecognisable from the goalkeeper who won four Player of the Year awards with the club.

"A confident, assured David de Gea saves all three goals. I would be worried, his inconsistency is costing United games."

Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer thinks it is time to hand the gloves to Dean Henderson, who has excelled while on loan from the Red Devils at Sheffield United.

The 23-year-old's 13 clean sheets have played a pivotal role in the Blades' eye-catching return to the EPL.

Former Chelsea and Ireland striker Tony Cascarino believes de Gea's issues are more psychological than technical.

ALL IN THE MIND

"I went through a period during my playing career when I just could not score goals and it took me a while to realise that I couldn't fix it on the training ground," he wrote in the Times.

"You may think that the problems are technical, but the truth is that you are only making the technical errors because of what is happening in your head.

"That is what de Gea is going through at the moment."

The experienced Romero is waiting in the wings, with two EPL games remaining and a tight battle for the final two Champions League spots.

Victory over West Ham would see United climb above Leicester City into the Champions League places.- AFP

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