Caught on Camera: The Erik ten Hag and David de Gea Moment that Exposes Manchester United’s Dilemma
The recent footage of Erik ten Hag and David de Gea has highlighted a predicament for Manchester United, as the club is currently negotiating a new contract with De Gea, but concerns have been raised regarding his ability to distribute the ball effectively.
After the match on Thursday night, Erik ten Hag approached David de Gea exclusively among the Manchester United players. While the crowd inside Old Trafford celebrated the team’s impressive performance following their defeat at Anfield, Ten Hag spoke with De Gea on the field, and it was notable that he was the only player the coach felt compelled to converse with.
During their exchange, Ten Hag put his arm around De Gea, and they shared a conversation that seemed amicable. However, if Real Betis had capitalized on De Gea’s critical error in the first half, the atmosphere between the coach and goalkeeper would have been much less cordial.
Not long after Real Betis scored an equalizer through Ayoze Perez, they nearly went ahead when David de Gea made a mistake and passed the ball directly to the opposing team. The ball hit the post, and De Gea was fortunate that it missed by only a small margin.
De Gea had ample time to make a better decision with the ball, but he has a tendency to become anxious when in possession, which has been a recurring issue throughout his career. In this instance, he inexplicably passed the ball directly to Betis striker Juanmi, who must have been astonished by his luck.
In that particular scenario, there were several viable options available to
David de Gea, but he chose the worst one. He could have cleared the ball to the left or right, passed to Lisandro Martinez, whom he seemed to be attempting to pass to but failed, or cleared it through the middle.
A goalkeeper who is comfortable with the ball at their feet, which is essential in modern football, would have made the pass to Martinez with ease. However, De Gea lost control of the ball, which is a recurring problem for him. His distribution has always been a concern, but it was highlighted again against Real Betis. De Gea appeared unsure and apprehensive on the ball, and he seemed like a mistake waiting to happen when under pressure from Betis’ pressing.
Ten Hag conferred the display after the game and said: “I can’t ignore it, but I think we have seen many games he did really well. I don’t know what the reason today was. There was a lot of wind, a different ball, probably he had some problems with that.
“I know we can deal with it and he will do better Sunday. We work on [his kicking] but David is working on that. But I think we have seen in this season that he is improving and he will keep improving, I’m sure.”
It would be unfair to criticize a goalkeeper for a single mistake, as even the best in the game have made errors in their careers. However, there is a significant amount of evidence indicating that David de Gea’s distribution issues are not isolated incidents, and they are a recurring problem for him.
David de Gea was once considered one of the world’s best goalkeepers, but he has struggled to adapt to the modern game’s evolving demands, making him an outdated player at a club looking to rebuild for the future.
Although he has delivered strong performances this season, there are concerns about his long-term suitability, especially since Erik ten Hag wants his goalkeepers to confidently play out from the back, which is not De Gea’s strong suit.
Despite being the 11th player in United’s history to make 500 appearances for the club and recently breaking Peter Schmeichel’s clean sheet record, the decision about his future cannot be based on sentimentality alone.
Ten Hag values De Gea and will treat him with respect, given his excellent service to the club. Still, the question remains whether he is willing to continue with him as the first-choice goalkeeper or prioritize signing a more progressive player in that position.
The outcome of the negotiations with De Gea and any potential new signings will be made public soon, as Ten Hag has seen enough to make a decision on the matter.