When things have been rough for Manchester United this season, David de Gea hasn’t been afraid to say what needs to be said.
The Spaniard, who is set to win the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year title for the sixth time since joining the club in 2011 at the end of the season, has frequently served as United’s top speaker this season. He was the first to resort to social media following the disheartening 1-0 loss to Wolves in January, and he found himself in the same boat following the 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City last month.
On Saturday, though, following United’s 1-0 loss to Everton, he did not need the power of social media to voice his displeasure. Instead, he used his post-match interview with BT Sport to express his disappointment at yet another dreadful performance.
“To be honest, I don’t know what to say,” he admitted. We knew they were battling and how difficult it was going to be before today.
“It’s not the ideal setting. Today, you can see that they [Everton] were fatigued and scared, but they kept battling and had more determination.
“This is not acceptable. They played on Wednesday and were exhausted, but they had more desire than us, which is unacceptable.
“It’s a shame to lose. It is a disgrace on our part. We should be able to win this game.”
‘Disgrace,’ ‘unacceptable,’ and ‘not the ideal atmosphere.’ De Gea was not scared to be honest, even if it meant revealing the terrible state of affairs inside the Manchester United dressing room.
Despite the fact that it created a bad picture of the team’s current mood, De Gea deserves respect for standing up, being brutally honest, and leading by example. The former Atletico Madrid man provided an interview that had meaning and came from the heart during a time when a United side has never been under the microscope so much for all the wrong reasons.
Although social media apologies from footballers can carry very hollow feelings, De Gea’s post-match assessment on Saturday, staring down the camera of one of the rights holders, could not have been more constraining. He wasn’t hesitant to give an honest evaluation on another forgettable day at work, as opposed to when others could have sugar-coated the performance, even if it would have taken an acting degree.
That is why De Gea should be considered as United’s next captain. For several months, Harry Maguire’s future with the armband has been questioned, and it remains to be seen if he will start next season with the armband. After all, Erik ten Hag appears to be the last arbiter.
Of course, it’s difficult to predict if De Gea will be United’s first-choice goalkeeper next season, especially if Ten Hag wins the job. Dean Henderson was a goal for Ajax ahead of the January transfer window, thus Ten Hag may choose the England international when deciding on his starting lineup for the 2022/23 season.
But, if De Gea keeps his place and Ten Hag removes Maguire as captain, the former has all of the required characteristics and qualities to declare himself captain material. He has stood up and refused to downplay United’s problems, while others have trotted out tired mantras like ‘we’ll go again next week’ or ‘we’ll learn from this and come back stronger.’
Even if the goalkeeper’s post-game interview on Saturday did little to raise the atmosphere or put an end to another forgettable United performance, it was refreshing and honest, bringing hope that there is still some energy and drive in the camp. It’s a tiny thing, but it means a lot.
A culture reset is sorely needed at Old Trafford this summer, and Ten Hag will rapidly find who should and should not be part of his grand plan to make United great again if he takes over from Ralf Rangnick. If De Gea’s statements and deeds this season are any indication, he should be a part of the Dutchman’s revolution in some way.