Gary Neville says David de Gea’s struggles have become more than just a ‘blip’ and has urged the goalkeeper to ‘go back to basics’ in order to return to his former self at Manchester United.
De Gea’s significant drop in form has seen calls for Dean Henderson to replace the Spaniard grow louder in recent months and the 29-year-old’s poor performance against Tottenham on Friday night did little to help his reputation.
United’s number one failure to deal with Steven Bergwijn’s strike in the 27th-minute strike of the 1-1 draw attracted widespread criticism and Roy Keane said he and Harry Maguire should be forced to ‘get a taxi back to Manchester’ for their part in the goal.
Though Neville has a little more sympathy than his outspoken former team-mate, he admits De Gea has become a player the Red Devils can no longer rely on like they were once able to week in, week out.
‘He was the one player United could rely upon for the last four years but he’s not the same,’ he said on The Gary Neville Podcast.
‘He hasn’t been the same for some time. When form drops for six months it’s a blip but when it goes on for a year you start to worry. When it goes over two years it becomes more permanent.
‘That is now a fair representation of what De Gea is as he’s making lots of mistakes. Ones he would never make – he was always somebody you could completely rely upon.
‘It can only be a confidence thing. The arms, legs and body are the same – it’s got to be the mind.
‘The reception he’s got in Spain has affected him. He’s even been booed by Spanish fans when he’s wearing the Spanish shirt. In the World Cup in 2018 he really struggled and from that he’s doubted himself. Mentally he’s not quite the same.’
Neville claims De Gea must ‘work harder’ than he ever has done in his career to eradicate the mistakes that are beginning to define him at both club and international level.
‘He’s got to go back to basics,’ the former United right-back added.
‘There’s only one thing you can do when you’re having a tough time: work. Work harder than you have ever done in your life.
‘What will happen is that you will tell yourself the amount of work you put in you deserve to be good again. That means coming in at 7.30am and leaving at 6pm if needs be. He has to do something to stop the erosion.
‘Mistakes like that can happen on the first game back but it’s happening far too much over the past couple of years.’
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