Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says David de Gea must “earn his place” at Manchester United, with another error-prone performance from the Spaniard against Everton leading to calls for goalkeeping change at Old Trafford.
A once reliable number one – who has four Player of the Year awards to his name with the Red Devils – endured an evening to forget against the Toffees, with a dramatic contest ending in a 3-3 draw.
Fingers of blame have been pointed in De Gea’s direction for pushing the ball into Abdoulaye Doucoure’s path for Everton’s first goal, while he also held back when allowing Dominic Calvert-Lewin to prod home a late leveller.
What has been said?
“Every player has to earn his place,” United boss Solskjaer told reporters when reflecting on more dropped points for his side.
“We’re a squad with competition and that applies to every single one in the team.”
Red Devils legend Gary Neville told Sky Sports on the day: “David de Gea, there, at the end. He doesn't even come in line with the ball.
“I think you want the goalkeeper to come and eat the striker. You just want your goalkeeper to come out there and absolutely take him out. Goalkeepers are so quick off their line nowadays.
“It wasn't a great night for the goalkeeper, it wasn't a great night for the centre-backs either and we've known from the start Manchester United needed a stronger centre-back pairing. That hasn't changed. No point going on about it tonight. It's cost them.”
Another United icon, Roy Keane, has said: “I’m certainly not his [De Gea’s] biggest fan. The one thing you want from your goalkeeper is courage and he didn’t show that for the equalising goal. Not a good sign.”
The bigger picture
Calls for United to bring in reinforcements at the back are nothing new, with plenty suggesting that another centre-half and added competition at right-back are required at Old Trafford.
Between the sticks, Solskjaer does have alternative options that he can turn to.
England international Dean Henderson has been waiting patiently for his opportunity after returning to Manchester from two productive loan spells at Sheffield United.
He has seen three Premier League outings this season, but the last of those came back on December 17.
It is not the first time, though, that De Gea has faced questions of form and favour, and the 30-year-old has managed to retain his position to this point.
United, though, are looking to chase down long-awaited trophies this season, across multiple fronts, and need a reliable last line of defence in order to bring a four-year wait for major silverware to a close.