Solskjaer Defends De Gea, After Watford Loss

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Watford and Manchester United at Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, north of London on December 22, 2019.


Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came to the defence of David De Gea after the goalkeeper’s blunder proved pivotal in a 2-0 loss away to Premier League bottom side Watford on Sunday.

The Vicarage Road clash was still goalless when De Gea somehow allowed a tame, spinning effort from Ismaila Sarr to creep through his hands and in at the near post.

Watford doubled their lead four minutes later when Troy Deeney fired home from the penalty spot after Aaron Wan-Bissaka brought down Sarr with a misjudged sliding tackle and not even the returning Paul Pogba, on as a second-half substitute, could prevent defeat.

But what irked Solskjaer more than De Gea’s mistake was the pace of United’s play.

“We started the game slow,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

“The first half was very, very poor from both sides and when you concede two goals like we did in quick succession with their two shots on target we gave ourselves too much to do.

“It was too slow, it was like a testimonial in the first half from both teams,” he added after a defeat that left United in eighth place and continued their run of poor results against lower-ranked teams in the top flight — a marked contrast to their recent wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.

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United’s five league losses this term have come against Crystal Palace, West Ham, Newcastle, Bournemouth and now Watford.

‘Mistakes Happen’

As for Spain international De Gea’s howler, Solskjaer said: “It was a mistake, it happens in football and it is what we train for every day to make sure they don’t happen again. David has been very good lately, it is just one of those things that happen.

“You have to earn every point on the pitch and today we didn’t deserve that.

This was just Watford’s second league win this season and first of the campaign at home as they marked new manager Nigel Pearson’s first match in charge at Vicarage Road in style.

Although the Hornets remain at the foot of the table, they are now level on points with second-bottom Norwich and a mere six shy of safety.

Victory followed an impressive display in a defeat last time out at leaders Liverpool and Deeney said: “We’ve been close (to winning) for ages now.

“People are looking and see us at the bottom of the league but performances like Liverpool, Leicester before that, there are games we’re thinking we should have won.”

“It was a great team performance, lots of people did a proper shift and I’m happy for everyone here that they can have a decent Christmas.”

Deeney’s goal was his first since April but the striker insisted he had not felt under pressure to score.

“Real pressure is watching my mum work three jobs trying to make ends meet for Christmas,” he said.

“This is football.”


De Gea Will Play For United Against Huddersfield, Says Solsjkaer

De Gea Will Play For United Against Huddersfield, Says Solsjkaer
(File) Manchester United’s Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea (R) gestures during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on February 24, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP


Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer has insisted that David De Gea will retain his place for Sunday’s trip to Huddersfield despite the goalkeeper’s recent errors.

Solskjaer said Friday that the Spain international has been “fantastic” for United this season, even though he has not kept a clean sheet for 13 matches.

Sergio Romero, De Gea’s deputy, is not available for the Huddersfield match after suffering a knee injury in training on Thursday.

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A De Gea mistake led to the goal that allowed Chelsea to gain a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford last Sunday, with the goalkeeper spilling Antonio Rudiger’s shot, giving Marcos Alonso the chance to score with the rebound.

Failure to win that match has severely damaged United’s chances of securing the top-four finish they need to qualify for next season’s Champions League; they are currently in sixth position, three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with two games to play.

“He will play,” Solskjaer said of De Gea. “Sergio was injured yesterday (Thursday) and didn’t train. David’s been training well this week and he will play.”

– ‘David has my confidence’ –

Solskjaer, a former United striker, gave De Gea a vote of confidence by adding: “Of course I trust him. He has been fantastic this season.

“Towards the end of the season, he’s been in headlines for the wrong reasons but he has to deal with that. The goalkeeping department are a fantastic group. They are such a tight-knit group.

“They have experienced better times than just now but David is ready for Sunday. David’s confident, and he is looking forward to the next few games. He wants to prove what a good goalkeeper he is. With the performances he has put in over the past few years, David has got all my confidence.”

However, asked if Romero might have started had he been fit, Solskjaer said: “It’s ifs and buts and hypothetical questions. Sergio knows how highly I rate him.”

Meanwhile, Solskjaer acknowledged United’s goalscoring record had to improve if they are to stand any chance of climbing the table before the season draws to a close.

Marcus Rashford has gone six games without scoring, while fellow forward Romelu Lukaku has not found the net in eight matches.

But he said the quality of United’s performances has not dipped as much as suggested by a recent run of just two wins in their past 10 matches in all competitions.

“We haven’t scored enough of the chances we have created, but that happens,” Solskjaer, who replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho earlier this season, said.

“At the beginning, when I came in, we were more efficient in terms of scoring chances created.

“And the other side of it was that David was unbelievable at the other end, and when we had a few chances against us at the other end, we didn’t concede goals.

“Now that has maybe changed for us a bit. The margins and details are maybe going against us. We need to look behind the results,” Solskjaer insisted. “It’s not been so up and down.

“As a team and as a striker, you’re always facing the little margins there,” the former forward explained.

“We’ve been working on creating chances and scoring.”

France forward Anthony Martial has also gone six games without scoring and has faced criticism for his performances since he signed a five-year contract in January.

But Solskjaer said: “Anthony has got goals in him. He’s got loads of goals in him. It’s up to us to move it forward and get that into him again.

“I’m sure we will see him scoring goals for Manchester United in the future… We’ve got loads of goals in our team.”


Mourinho Confident Of De Gea Signing New Contract

Manchester United’s Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea attends a training session at the Carrington Training complex in Manchester, north west England. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP


Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said Friday he is confident Spanish international goalkeeper David de Gea will sign a new deal linking him long-term to Old Trafford.

The 28-year-old de Gea’s long-term future at the club has been shrouded in uncertainty, although the club this week did activate an option to extend his current contract by a year, meaning he is now signed up until June 2020.

Had that extension not been triggered, De Gea would have been free to talk to clubs outside England from January 1 and possibly sign a pre-contract agreement.

Mourinho said after Tuesday’s 1-0 Champions League win over Young Boys he wanted De Gea to stay, and he remains optimistic an agreement on the player’s will be reached.

“He wants to stay, and I want him to stay of course,” Mourinho said at Friday’s press conference.

“He’s the level of player Manchester United needs.

“Manchester United needs the best players in the world.

“The manager wants him to stay, the board wants him to stay, David wants to stay, and his agent (Jorge Mendes) wants the player to do what he thinks is right.”

Mourinho said Mendes — who is also his agent –, unlike other players’ representatives, lets his client have genuine input into the contract talks.

“He is not the kind of agent who is manipulative like others,” said Mourinho.

“His agent lets him think and decide by himself so the point is to agree on the contract and that’s just my feeling, they are going to finish well.”

De Gea joined United in 2011 and has won the fans’ player of the year award in four of the past five seasons.

For all of United’s well-publicised troubles with high-profile stars such as Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku, the form of De Gea has been magnificent for the club.

However, reports have resurfaced suggesting he could be set for a move away from Old Trafford, with Juventus emerging as rumoured suitors for his services.

De Gea, who is reportedly on a contract worth £200,000 ($255,000) a week, is aware that Sanchez agreed to a deal worth well more than double that amount when he signed on a free transfer from Arsenal at the start of the year.

United’s current indifferent form, and broader underlying problems will hardly have helped convince him to pledge the peak years of his career to the club, especially given the disparity in pay.


De Gea Stars As Man United Settle For Sevilla Draw

De Gea Star As Man U Settle For Sevilla Draw
Manchester United’s goalkeeper David De Gea (L) and Scott McTominay (C) vie with Sevilla’s defender Clement Lenglet during the game. Photo: JORGE GUERRERO / AFP


David de Gea deflected the attention away from Paul Pogba with another spectacular display of goalkeeping as Manchester United came away from their Champions League last 16, first leg against Sevilla in Spain with a 0-0 draw on Wednesday.

De Gea made two breathtaking saves to deny Steven N’Zonzi and Luis Muriel at the end of the first half at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, denying Sevilla a lead to take to England for next month’s return.

Sevilla were the more likely side, with United offering little going forward despite the presence of Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata in their attack.

Lukaku had a late goal disallowed, but United’s was the kind of cautious approach seen time and again in such games by Mourinho’s teams down the years.

Their inability, unwillingness even, to get an away goal leaves the tie wide open ahead of the second leg, with United looking to reach the quarter-finals in their first appearance in the knockout stage of the Champions League since 2014.

Mourinho decided to leave Pogba out of his starting line-up, despite the Frenchman being back in the squad after illness had kept him out of United’s FA Cup win at Huddersfield Town.

Fuelling the speculation of an uneasy relationship between Mourinho and the France midfielder, the United manager chose to select 21-year-old Scott McTominay ahead of Pogba in a midfield three.

However, an untimely injury to Ander Herrera meant Pogba was thrown on after just 17 minutes of a first half dominated by the Spanish side.

Sevilla, looking to make it past the last 16 of the Champions League after falling in their three previous appearances at this stage over the last decade, could and should have had a goal to show for their performance.

De Gea made one good early save low down to deny Colombian Muriel, while Jesus Navas, impressive at right-back, fired just wide after latching onto Ever Banega’s cross-field pass.

Stepping up the pressure just before half-time, Joaquin Correa’s shot from a good position was too easy for De Gea, but the Spain ‘keeper displayed all his class as he kept out headed attempts from N’Zonzi and Muriel from point-blank range, both saves requiring breathtaking reactions.

The importance to United of not letting in a goal was clear — they had kept eight clean sheets in their 10 matches before heading to Andalusia, with their only defeats in that time coming in the two games in which they had conceded.

And they seemed content enough to leave Spain with a 0-0 draw, continuing to soak up pressure in the second half and relying on Sevilla’s indecision in the final third.

They were also aided by Pablo Sarabia’s inability to find the target from an inviting Muriel cross in the 73rd minute, before Lukaku’s goal was ruled out by French referee Clement Turpin for a handball as he controlled before shooting.

Whether Mourinho’s team should have been more adventurous will only become clear after the return in Manchester in three weeks.


Arsenal Beat Man United In FA Cup

ArsenalEnglish football giants, Arsenal FC, have defeated old rivals, Manchester United to qualify for the semi finals of the English FA Cup.

This is courtesy of a 2-1 victory in the quarter final match decided at Old Trafford on Monday night.

Nacho Monreal scored his first goal of the season when he clinically finished a terrific move to put the Gunners in the lead but Wayne Rooney quickly equalized three minutes later during a captivating first 45 minutes.

The second half saw the defending champions regaining their lead in the 61st minute after a catastrophic back-pass error, which Danny Welbeck took advantage of to score in his first return to the stadium that he called home until last summer’s deadline day.

Jones failed to control a high ball, so Valencia rolled a pass back to De Gea. However, he didn’t get enough on it and the former Red Devil nipped in, poking it beyond the onrushing keeper before slotting into the vacant net.

The pressure to get another equalizer, however, got the best of United’s Di Maria, leading to a second yellow and a sending off in the 77th minute.

After being booked for simulation, Di Maria clasped at the referee’s shirt in an attempt to get his attention so he can complain about the booking, but for that infraction the official showed him his second yellow to make United’s task even harder.

Arsenal held on to emerge triumphant and secure their much desired revenge over United, having won at Old Trafford for the first time in 11 attempts.