There aren’t many people who know what makes David de Gea tick more than Eric Steele.
It was Steele who scouted de Gea before he came to Manchester United, convincing Sir Alex Ferguson to sign him ahead of Manuel Neuer.
Steele has been speaking to ESPN about the Spaniard, who of course faces a huge battle with Dean Henderson to be United’s number one next season.
The former United goalkeeping coach feels that de Gea still has it in him to get back to his best, and outlined what he needs to do to get there.
“He’ll be coming back to United unless something changes,” Steele said. “He will expect to come back and go into battle again with Dean Henderson. I don’t think he will look upon himself as a number two.
“This is probably the biggest dip he’s had, and it’s a massive dip in terms of where he’s been. He has to take his dip in form and react. There are two words that I always use: command and demand.
“He can go back to when he was getting battered early in his United career, when he came and commanded, took the ball, punched really well. Demand is about demanding more of the people in front of him.
“If the two centre-halves aren’t having the best of times, he has to demand more of them. That might be saying something at half-time about getting tighter or dropping deeper, because tactically, he knows the game.
“That’s where he needs to demand more of others. But David certainly has it in him to get back to his best. Don’t write him off — he is a strong character and he has the mentality and the technique to do it.”
Will de Gea get back to his best?
Arguably de Gea’s best performance of last season was in the Europa League semi-final second leg away to Roma.
He made a succession of point-black saves to ensure United’s safe passage as the defence left him exposed on the night.
But it remains to be seen what impact the Europa League final heartache has on him. Especially as it’s been followed up by being left on the bench for Spain at Euro 2020.
Henderson looks to represent United’s future, but hasn’t had an easy summer himself, dropping out of England’s summer plans through injury.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a big decision to make and there are no big indicators of which way he’ll go.
He might try and keep both men happy throughout the season again, managing their gametime and playing whoever’s in the best form. But is that a long-term solution?
Time will tell but de Gea could do worse than follow his old coach’s advice as he looks to rediscover his peak form.
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