Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has reaffirmed his commitment to keep David De Gea at Old Trafford next season.
The Spanish goalkeeper has had a season of mixed fortunes, making his trademark impressive saves, and currently leads the race to win the Golden Glove award for the most Premier League clean sheets, but he has also been responsible for a succession of glaring errors.
On Sunday night De Gea’s mistake allowed West Ham to score the only goal in a 1-0 win at the London stadium that puts United’s hopes of finishing in the top four of the Premier League at serious risk.
After 27 minutes Said Benrahma ran through on goal before shooting from outside the penalty area with a slow and tame shot De Gea should have comfortably saved, but let roll past him.
“He fully has my belief,” Ten Hag said after the game. “No concerns with him. It happens but as a team you have to deal with it, show character, be resilient and bounce back. We want him to stay and extend his contract.”
“He has the most clean sheets in the league so we would not be here in this position without him.”
However, the Dutchman did acknowledge it was a bad error that had cost United the game. “I think we all know, David knows also, it’s a mistake, but he’s a brilliant goalkeeper. Mistakes are part of football and we have to live with it and we have to bounce back as a team.”
The defeat to West Ham was United’s second in four days, after also losing 1-0 to Brighton on Thursday, and leaves them in fourth place just a point ahead of Liverpool, but they have a game in hand.
“You can’t feel sorry for yourself,” Ten Hag said. “Stick together, individuals take responsibility and make sure you have the energy and focus. Play as a team and we’ll get results, we’ve proven it all season. Tiredness is in your head and if you want you can take it out. It’s not about Liverpool, it’s about us and because of the table we have everything in our hands.”
United have now failed to score in three of their last five games, which is another major concern for Ten Hag. “Of course, we are disappointed not to score,” he said. “We created and we had the game in our hands. In front of the goal, we had to be more clinical. I counted four or five really good chances.”
“I think we started well, we dictated the game, we created chances, we didn’t take them and then one mistake but even then until half-time I think we played a very decent game. And in three days, twice individual mistake leads to you losing games.”
United now have a rare empty midweek until their next game against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford on Saturday.
“This will be the first time since Christmas that those players have a full week, so we have to reset and reload, get the energy back and keep going.”
“It is only four games and you need the energy. It is in your head, make sure it is not in your legs. Get ready for the games, clear head, energy, focus, and go.
“I said to the players: ‘Don’t feel sorry for ourselves.’ We want to be in the Champions League, the Champions League is our life, and then you have to suffer and you have to sacrifice and, especially, you have to believe.”