Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes David de Gea is “mentally strong enough” to deal with the criticism coming his way following a series of uncharacteristic mistakes this season.
The Manchester United goalkeeper is under pressure after being at fault for two of Chelsea’s three goals in their FA Cup semi-final defeat on Sunday.
Solskjaer refused to single out De Gea for any blame and gave nothing away when asked whether the Spain international could be dropped for Wednesday’s crucial Premier League game at home to West Ham, live on Sky Sports.
Victory over the Hammers will see Manchester United take a huge stride towards a top-four finish ahead of Sunday’s season-ending trip to fellow hopefuls Leicester.
“This is not going to become a David de Gea press conference,” Solskjaer said. “We are just going to stick together.
“We’ve got two games and we’re going to focus on that.
“David is mentally strong enough to know his job is to perform in training the next day and be ready for the games.
“My job is to prepare the team for West Ham and that’s what we’re doing. We’re not going to talk about individuals because no one here is going to feel that we put more pressure on them.”
Manchester United are likely to be without Eric Bailly against West Ham. He was taken to hospital after a clash of heads in the 3-1 defeat to Chelsea and Solskjaer confirmed the defender had stayed in London for checks before returning to Manchester, but is unlikely to be ready for Wednesday’s game.
Solskjaer’s De Gea conundrum
Sky Sports’ Adam Bate:
In the immediate aftermath of David de Gea’s costly mistake against Chelsea in Manchester United’s FA Cup semi-final defeat, the reaction of some pundits was swift. Bring Dean Henderson back from his loan spell at Sheffield United. Move the Spaniard on.
The problem for United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is that such a change is easier said than done.
Solskjaer is acutely aware of the catalogue of errors by his goalkeeper. He was there, after all, watching on in disbelief as De Gea allowed a Mason Mount shot that he should have saved – “100 times out of 100” according to his manager – to slip through his grasp.
Just as he has done already this year against Watford, Tottenham and Everton, the man once regarded by the club’s fans as Europe’s finest goalkeeper, found a way to concede.
But Solskjaer knows he must be absolutely certain before setting the wheels in motion to replace United’s four-time player of the year. De Gea’s purported £375,000-per-week salary, on a contract that runs until 2023, guarantees any exit would not be straightforward.