Most players will be forgiven if they are a little rusty when the Premier League restarts.
Fair or not, that same leeway will not apply to Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.
Players in his position are always more harshly scrutinised, and De Gea has let himself down over the past year by allowing cheap errors to creep into his game, uncharacteristically.
The mistake at Goodison Park was the only Premier League goal he conceded in a five game stretch after the Burnley home loss, but it was a costly one, with United only able to claim a 1-1 draw.
As the season restarts, the pressure is on De Gea to be immaculate and error free.
The backdrop to the pressure on David de Gea is the rapid emergence of Dean Henderson on loan at Sheffield United.
He has been impressive, although not faultless, and has been staking a claim for United’s number one spot.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer acknowledges his potential, quoted by Sky Sports: “We’re looking at that in terms of where he’s going to be next season, but as yet that has not been decided.
“This season has proved a great experience for him, he’s done himself some favours with his performances, and proved he will be England’s No 1 and Man United’s No 1 at some point.”
It is clear that further strong performances, and another backwards step from De Gea could prompt a tough decision from United.
Age and cost
The current financial situation puts a little more pressure on De Gea.
He is one of United’s top assets, and could fetch £60 million plus in the transfer market. There would also be a substantial saving on his wages if he were sold.
So he needs to prove to United, even now with his considerable experience, that he is worth the extra expenditure on the wage bill.
United do not seem in any hurry to cash in. For the next 12 months it would appear the plan is to keep De Gea, and loan Dean Henderson out for a further season, perhaps to a club playing European football.
De Gea has been loyal to United and does not deserve to be kicked out just for the club to make a saving, and rushing Henderson in ‘too soon’ could be detrimental to him.
So that’s why the Spaniard just needs to keep his hands steady, and play at his best over the next two months.
If he can do that, United will not rush into any drastic moves. But if he takes another backwards step, while Henderson keeps pushing on, the debate will be wide open.
That is why De Gea is the United player over the next few weeks with the most at stake. He could quickly go from being integral, to replaceable.
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