Ole Gunnar Solskjaer unequivocally backed David de Gea and insisted the faltering goalkeeper is not to blame for Manchester United being in danger of missing out on Champions League qualification.
The Spaniard was culpable for Chelsea’s leveller in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, parrying a long-range Antonio Rudiger shot that let Marcos Alonso steal in and score, cancelling out Juan Mata’s opener on his 31st birthday.
De Gea made a fine save from Gonzalo Higuain in the dying seconds, but the major talking point was his latest error, hot on the heels of high-profile mistakes against Manchester City in midweek and Barcelona earlier this month.
United’s hopes of a top-four Premier League finish are out of their hands following the result, although Solskjaer, who publicly backed De Gea before this weekend, was loathe to place too much blame on his No 1.
Solskjaer said: ‘He’s been in the spotlight for the right reasons for so long, now he’s going through a period where he probably feels he could have done better.
3 – David de Gea has made three errors leading to goals in his last four games in all competitions for Manchester United – as many as in his previous 123 matches combined for the Red Devils. Sloppy. #MUNCHE pic.twitter.com/Tbq59cYSU7
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 28, 2019
‘I don’t have any worries about him because he’s a strong character.
‘Of course I’ll sit down and speak to David, as I’ve done when he’s played well. But he’s not the reason why we’re in the sixth position at the moment.
‘You cannot say there is any complacency, David is not the type to sit down and be complacent. He is a competitor and he wants to be the best.
‘David knows he could have done better with the goal, there’s no reason to hide that, but there’s no chance any of us will point fingers because he’s saved us so many times.’
England striker Marcus Rashford was withdrawn midway through the second half because of a shoulder injury, while Solskjaer confirmed that Eric Bailly’s season was over after he awkwardly twisted his knee shortly afterwards.
The Ivorian was seen leaving Old Trafford on crutches with his right knee in a heavy brace.
Solskjaer added: ‘Eric, it’s a bad knee injury, hopefully it’s not the worst case. But I’m sure we won’t see him any more this season unfortunately.
‘Rashy, we strapped him before the game, you could see clearly that his shoulder got worse and worse and he couldn’t run freely any more.’
United lie three points behind the fourth-placed Blues with two games remaining – although both teams and Arsenal in fifth have endured indifferent form of late.
Solskjaer added: ‘Of course if you look at the league table it’s going to be difficult. We’ve got to make sure we turn up, win the next two games, play well and you never know.
‘Points are being dropped left, right and centre in this race.’
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