Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted David De Gea’s place is not guaranteed after the goalkeeper endured another error-strewn display in Manchester United’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea.
Chelsea will face London rivals Arsenal in the final on August 1 thanks to a pair of embarrassing blunders from De Gea in United’s 3-1 loss at Wembley on Sunday.
The Spaniard’s nightmare season hit a new low as he was at fault when Olivier Giroud’s shot trickled over the line late in the first half. And De Gea made an even worse mistake moments after the interval when he allowed Mason Mount’s shot to evade his weak attempted save. Harry Maguire’s own goal was also partly down to De Gea’s slow reactions as United lost for the first time in 20 games in all competitions despite Bruno Fernandes’ late penalty.
“He knows he should save that 100 times out of 100 but that’s football for you,” Solskjaer said. “I can’t speak for David De Gea’s confidence but he is mentally very strong. I made the decision to play him and mentally he was ready for it.”
Asked if De Gea would be replaced by Sergio Romero when United return to action against West Ham in Wednesday’s crucial Premier League clash, Solskjaer would not rule out dropping his star. “Obviously, everyone has to perform. Everyone has a chance every time we perform to stake a claim in the team,” he said.
“David knows he should have saved the second goal, but that’s done now and we have to look forward to Wednesday. It’s hard for a keeper to make amends. David showed his character in the rest of the game with a few good saves.”
De Gea’s future at United is sure to be scrutinised given the fine form of the club’s on-loan keeper Dean Henderson during his spell at Sheffield United this season. Solskjaer has already labelled Henderson a future England No 1 and it would be no surprise if he is back at Old Trafford to challenge De Gea for the keeper’s jersey next season.
While the spotlight was on De Gea, Chelsea were by far the better team as they reached the FA Cup final for the first time since they last lifted the trophy in 2018. United had beaten Chelsea three times this season, but Lampard had the last laugh. “To win a semi is a great thing, but to win a final is the thing,” Lampard said.
“We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves but we can certainly enjoy the performance and the result. It is obviously right up there because of the size of the game and quality of the opponent.”
Comedy of errors
United, who started with Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial on the bench, looked out of sync after switching to a back three formation and Solskjaer said: “You always question your decisions. Chelsea had an extra 48 hours rest, that’s just a fact but it’s no excuse. We lost concentration and that was disappointing. We were a little too late in some situations and the second goal was very avoidable.”
Chelsea took the lead deep into first half stoppage-time with Giroud’s fourth goal in his last five games. Anticipating Azpilicueta’s low cross perfectly, Giroud made an astute run in front of Victor Lindelof and flicked his close-range shot past the slow to react De Gea with the outside of his foot. If that was bad from De Gea, there was even worse to come one minute after half-time. It was a comedy of errors from United as Brandon Williams gifted possession to Mount in midfield.
Advancing unchecked by United’s back-pedalling defence, Mount hit a long-range drive that lacked power and should have been saved by De Gea, but instead it squirmed through his grasp into the net. Chelsea put the result beyond doubt in the 74th minute when Mount found Marcos Alonso and Maguire turned the Spaniard’s cross into his own net under pressure from Antonio Rudiger.