Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should drop David de Gea as Manchester United goalkeeper, says Paul Merson


Former England midfielder Paul Merson says it’s time for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to make a big decision over who his first-choice goalkeeper should be at Manchester United.

David de Gea signed in 2011 and the now-30-year-old has largely been the go-to starter in goal since then, racking up well over 400 appearances for the club so far. However, he has at times struggled with high-profile errors in his game and there have been a handful on show this season, most recently in the 3-3 draw with Everton.

Merson says De Gea was not prepared to give everything for the win and it has cost the team more than once in 2020/21 – meaning Solskjaer must realise a change is needed if United want to compete for major honours.

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“It was bad goalkeeping for Calvert-Lewin’s goal. I thought it was just as bad as Everton’s first, in fact I thought it was worse,” Merson said in his Sky Sports column.

“You’ve got to come out and you’ve got to be brave and take a kick for the team. That’s what wins Premier League titles. You’ve got to put your body on the line.

“It’s not the first time. He did it as well against RB Leipzig. He could’ve come out, smothered it and taken a hit. If you’re going to win league titles, you have to make sacrifices. A decision has to be made sooner or later.”

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Merson went on to suggest that De Gea’s time as an elite-level No. 1 is over and, for a team like United who aim to compete among the top clubs, difficult decisions must be taken ruthlessly.

“De Gea has been great and at one stage he was the best goalie in the world. He’s not anymore. Jesse Lingard was one of the first names on the England teamsheet three years ago, now he’s going on loan to West Ham.

“Time moves on. When you’re manager of Manchester United, you have to make big decisions. If you don’t make them, and they keep coming back to haunt you then something’s wrong.”

De Gea’s competition comes from Dean Henderson, who spent an impressive 19/20 on loan with Sheffield United before being recalled into the United set-up this term.

The younger goalkeeper has ambitions of being first choice for club and country, but has had only limited opportunities to shine this term, mainly in the cups. Merson suggested now might be the optimum time to ease him into the side – allowing him room to get over the same sorts of inconsistencies that De Gea would be being taken out of the team for.

“You could try to get Dean Henderson into the team while there’s no crowds. That could get him a bit of confidence because you don’t want to put him in maybe next season when all of a sudden there’s 75,000 people there.

“He’d be under severe pressure straightaway. If you put Henderson in the team, are you going to allow him to make four mistakes?”

Henderson is likely to feature when United face West Ham in the FA Cup on Tuesday night, but De Gea remains the regular first-choice stopper for now.

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