Manchester United must lean on title-winners as business end of the season approaches

David de Gea has been at Manchester United since 2011 and has worn the captain’s armband on occasion.

But he is still perhaps not seen as a leader, or certainly one who leads by example rather than rousing speeches or constant communication in the mould of a Peter Schmeichel.

It’s important to remember he’s among a handful of players in the United ranks who know what it’s like to win the Premier League, scooping the crown in 2013.

And as United have the opportunity to go top of the table at Burnley tonight, he has given an interview to the club’s website sharing his experience of title-winning teams.

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“I have been fighting for the title in a couple of seasons when Sir Alex was here,” said de Gea. Now we are there again and it’s taken us a lot of time to get there – we cannot miss this chance.

“We have to be very, very focused in every game and try to win all of them. We can fight for sure for the Premier League.

“It’s true there is a lot to play yet, but of course it’s a chance to be there, to be top of the league.

We will play against a difficult team in Burnley, away from home, but if we want to win the league then we have to win these type of matches. All we can do is focus on each match, take it game-by-game and be 100 per cent focused.

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De Gea, like fellow title-winners Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata, will be crucial as the business end of the season approaches.

They know exactly what’s required as the tension rises in a title charge.

Not many of their teammates have been in that position before and of course United’s recent record in semi-finals indicates that something is missing when the pressure is really on.

De Gea might be a quiet leader, but he is one of the senior players in the dressing room now.

He needs to take what he learned from that 2013 title win, when he played alongside the likes of Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes, and pass it onto this United crop.

That starts with not getting too ahead of themselves and taking the big opportunity to go top tonight against a tricky Burnley side, and then taking every game as it comes thereafter.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.