David de Gea's reel of shame: Calamitous Man Utd goalkeeper's 10 worst mistakes

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David de Gea Manchester United 2022-23
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The Spain international has been a great servant for the Red Devils, but is now in danger of being remembered for his costly errors instead of saves

David de Gea made history for Manchester United when he lined up against West Ham on May 7, 2023, overtaking Alex Stepney as the goalkeeper with the most appearances for the club (540). He also broke Peter Schmeichel's clean sheet record after shutting out Newcastle in the Carabao Cup final, helping United end their six-year wait for major silverware.

That was the second League Cup winners' medal of De Gea's career at Old Trafford, but he has only won three other trophies since joining the club from Atletico Madrid way back in 2011 - including just one Premier League title. It's no coincidence that the Spaniard has served between the sticks during United's leanest period of the modern era.

De Gea's reflexes are second to none, and his shot-stopping abilities have won plenty of matches for the Red Devils over the years - but that contribution is outweighed by his regular moments of madness. The 32-year-old's latest inexplicable mistake against the Hammers left Erik ten Hag's side sweating on a return to the Champions League.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Jose Mourinho, Louis van Gaal, David Moyes and even Sir Alex Ferguson also saw De Gea cost United in the biggest matches time and time again. It has now got to the point that a compilation of his most baffling blunders would run longer than one showing off his best saves.

As United reportedly continue to work on tying De Gea down to another new contract, GOAL has selected the 10 worst errors of his Old Trafford career to date...

  1. Man Utd 2-2 Benfica (Champions League, 2011-12)

    Man Utd 2-2 Benfica (Champions League, 2011-12)

    United spent £19 million to bring in De Gea from Atletico as he was drafted in to replace legendary keeper Edwin van der Sar ahead of the 2011-12 season. It was to be a testing debut year in English football for De Gea as the Red Devils failed to win a trophy for the first time since 2004-05.

    De Gea found himself under the spotlight after high-profile gaffes against Manchester City in the Community Shield final and West Brom in the league, but his lowest point came on Europe's biggest stage. Benfica arrived at Old Trafford in November for a crucial Champions League clash that United needed to win in order to put one foot in the last 16.

    The hosts were on course for the three points when Darren Fletcher scored just before the hour mark, but United's 2-1 lead barely lasted a minute. The decisive moment of the game came after a Phil Jones back-pass, which should have been dealt with easily by De Gea.

    However, in one of the earliest examples of the 'keeper's lack of technical ability with the ball at his feet, he mishit a first-time clearance and the ball fell straight to Bruno Cesar on the edge of the box. The Benfica attacker then burst into the area before firing a powerful low cross that deflected off Rio Ferdinand straight into the path of Pablo Aimar, who volleyed into an empty net.

    Ferguson could only watch on in disbelief as United were then held to a 2-2 draw. His misery was compounded when his side lost their final group game at Basel to exit the competition - with questions also asked of De Gea in that contest after his failure to keep out Marco Streller's opening goal.

  2. Man Utd 2-1 Sunderland (League Cup, 2013-14)

    Man Utd 2-1 Sunderland (League Cup, 2013-14)

    United's first season following the departure of Ferguson was a complete disaster, as Moyes lasted just 10 months in the hot seat after being chosen to succeed the legendary boss. There were plenty of humiliating performances along the way, including in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final tie against Sunderland.

    The Black Cats had a 2-1 aggregate lead to protect when they arrived at Old Trafford, but Jonny Evans levelled the tie when he turned home a flick from Danny Welbeck in the 37th minute. That proved to be the only goal in the first 90 minutes, but extra time brought great drama.

    With penalties looming, former United defender Phil Bardsley received the ball some 20 yards from goal and let fly. Bardsley's shot was weak and straight at De Gea, but he failed to get his body behind the ball and ended up palming it into the net.

    De Gea's blushes were spared momentarily thanks to a stoppage-time equaliser from Javier Hernandez, but United went on to lose 2-1 on penalties. This would certainly not be the last time that De Gea's handling let him down.

  3. Bournemouth 2-1 Man Utd (Premier League, 2015-16)

    Bournemouth 2-1 Man Utd (Premier League, 2015-16)

    Van Gaal appeared to be overseeing a serious title challenge heading towards the mid-way point of his second season in charge at United. However, the wheels came off after a surprise loss at Bournemouth that saw Junior Stanislas completely embarrass De Gea.

    The winger whipped in a corner from the left with just two minutes on the clock at the Vitality Stadium, and managed to put plenty of speed and height on the ball. But it really should have been a simple task for the United No.1 to pluck the ball out of the air.

    As it was, De Gea got his positioning all wrong and it flew over his head before nestling in the far corner. He started back peddling way too late and by the time he'd thrown out an arm to try and keep the ball out, it was already beyond him.

    United went on to lose the game 2-1, which marked the beginning of a shocking three-match losing streak that also included reversals against Norwich and Stoke City. Their chances of winning the Premier League were dashed as a result, and it all started with De Gea's glaring weaknesses being laid bare.

  4. Man Utd 2-2 Arsenal (Premier League, 2018-19)

    Man Utd 2-2 Arsenal (Premier League, 2018-19)

    Mourinho went one better than Van Gaal by entering into a third campaign still at the helm of United, but his side were getting progressively worse by the time Arsenal rocked up at Old Trafford in December. The first goal of the game came via an unlikely source, as Shkodran Mustafi was presented with a free header in the box.

    The German nodded the ball into the ground and it bounced up kindly for De Gea, who was all set to make an easy catch. But for some reason, he palmed the ball up and it snuck over the line, despite Ander Hererra's best attempts to clear.

    United equalised through Anthony Martial before a Marcos Rojo own goal gave Arsenal the lead again in the second half. Again, De Gea might have done better, despite being wrong-footed by the deflection on Alexandre Lacazette's initial shot.

    Jesse Lingard had the final say to ensure that the spoils were shared, but United slipped to eighth in the table after the error-strewn display, and Mourinho was dismissed a couple of weeks later.

  5. Barcelona 3-0 Man Utd (Champions League, 2018-19)

    Barcelona 3-0 Man Utd (Champions League, 2018-19)

    Next comes one of the biggest mismatches in the recent history of the Champions League: Lionel Messi vs De Gea. United lost the first leg of their quarter-final 1-0 at Old Trafford, but still had hopes of progressing after a stunning comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the previous round.

    Messi dashed the Red Devils' dreams as he netted twice within the first 20 minutes at Camp Nou. The Argentine's first goal saw him nutmeg Fred on the right wing before cutting onto his left foot and curling an unstoppable shot in at the far post.

    De Gea couldn't be blamed for that one, but he was certainly at fault for Messi's second. He shot from the edge of the area again after picking up a loose ball, but didn't catch it cleanly and it dribbled slowly through to the 'keeper down the center.

    However, it somehow squirmed under De Gea before trickling into the back of the net, much to the bemusement of Solskjaer on the touchline. A stunning long-range effort from Philippe Coutinho rounded off a comfortable win for Barca, who were rewarded for taking shots at De Gea from all angles over the course of the 90 minutes.

  6. Watford 2-0 Man Utd (Premier League, 2019-20)

    Watford 2-0 Man Utd (Premier League, 2019-20)

    Solskjaer earned a permanent contract as United boss after initially replacing Mourinho on a caretaker basis, but his first full season in the dugout was a frustrating one. His side were already 24 points behind leaders Liverpool when they travelled to Watford on December 22 and could ill-afford any more dropped points.

    Dropped would end up being the word of the day. After a goalless first half, Watford emerged after the break with renewed vigour, and won a free-kick just inside United's half which allowed them to put the ball in the box.

    After the initial delivery was knocked down, it looped over to Ismaila Sarr 10 yards from goal and the winger attempted an ambitious first-time volley. His miscued effort bounced straight into De Gea's hands, but he took his eye off it for a crucial split second.

    The ball went through De Gea's arms and bounced off his face before falling into the back of the net, much to Sarr's delight. The United shot-stopper laid down on the turf afterwards to berate himself for the lapse in concentration, but it was difficult to sympathise with him.

    A Troy Deeney penalty doubled Watford's advantage and they closed out a memorable 2-0 win that saw United slip down to eighth in the table. De Gea was quickly becoming an unreliable figure, and things would only get worse.

  7. Everton 1-1 Man Utd (Premier League, 2019-20)

    Everton 1-1 Man Utd (Premier League, 2019-20)

    United regrouped to remerge as top-four contenders under Solskjaer, and confidence was high when they travelled to Goodison Park to face Everton on March 1.

    They came crashing back down to earth inside two minutes, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin scoring one of the easiest goals of his entire career. Harry Maguire knocked the ball back to De Gea from a free-kick, at which point the Spanish net-minder had no one near him.

    However, instead of getting it upfield quickly, De Gea dawdled casually, which allowed Calvert Lewin to close him down. When he eventually kicked it, the ball cannoned straight into the Everton striker and then into De Gea's goal.

    A Bruno Fernandes strike pulled United back level, but they couldn't find a winner and were ultimately left bemoaning De Gea's carelessness once again.

  8. Man Utd 1-3 Chelsea (FA Cup, 2019-20)

    Man Utd 1-3 Chelsea (FA Cup, 2019-20)

    United would eventually seal a return to the Champions League, and Solskjaer also guided them to three semi-finals in 2019-20. They came up short in every one of them though, including against Chelsea in the FA Cup.

    At the end of a fiercely competitive first half at Wembley, the deadlock was eventually broken in the 11th minute of stoppage time after a head injury to Eric Bailly. Olivier Giroud got the goal after latching onto a Cesar Azpiliecueta cross, but De Gea really should have done better with the Frenchman's flicked finish.

    United's first-choice goalkeeper allowed his head to drop after that, and was guilty of an even worse howler seconds after the restart. Brandon Williams put Solskjaer's side on the backfoot by gifting Mason Mount possession with a loose pass, and the Chelsea midfielder proceeded to stride towards the box.

    Mount tried his luck from 20 yards, and didn't even need to hit it sweetly to beat De Gea. It was a sight that has become all too familiar for United fans. The ball was close to De Gea and he got two hands on it, but it still went past him.

    United would go on to lose 3-1, with De Gea the most culpable for blowing their chance at silverware.

  9. Brentford 4-0 Man Utd (Premier League, 2022-23)

    Brentford 4-0 Man Utd (Premier League, 2022-23)

    United have made significant strides forward under Ten Hag this term, but he could hardly have had a worse start after joining from Ajax last summer. He lost his opening game at home to Brighton, and Brentford put his new team to the sword a week later.

    Once again, it was a De Gea error that opened the floodgates after just 10 minutes. He let Josh Dasilva's feeble shot from distance squeeze under him, just like he had done so often with similar efforts in the past.

    Brentford made it 2-0 through Mathias Jensen eight minutes later, with De Gea accountable for playing Christian Eriksen into trouble with an ill-judged pass out. He was also in no man's land for Brentford's third, with Ben Mee nodding home after Bryan Mbeumo caused chaos with a corner from the right.

    Mbeumo then scored himself to round off the 4-0 rout, which was a neat finish. However, there was only ever going to be one winner when the Brentford star got in one on one with De Gea, whose attempts to close him down were tentative at best.

    De Gea has had plenty of low points during his time at Old Trafford, but this might have been a career-ending performance under a less understanding manager.

  10. Sevilla 3-0 Man Utd (Europa League, 2022-23)
    Getty Images

    Sevilla 3-0 Man Utd (Europa League, 2022-23)

    Last but by no means least, comes De Gea's nightmare showing against Sevilla in the second leg of United's Europa League quarter-final tie. The Red Devils blew a two-goal lead in the first leg at Old Trafford, and injuries forced Ten Hag to shuffle his pack at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

    Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof started in the heart of the defence in the absence of Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez. Within the first 10 minutes, it was clear that they were not up to the task.

    Youssef En-Nesyri put Sevilla ahead after Maguire lost possession just outside his own box, though he was not helped by an unnecessary pass from De Gea that instantly put him under pressure. United's No.1 was then beaten by a looping header from Loic Bade minutes after the break as the hosts took full control of the tie.

    United offered no threat going forward in the second period, but any faint hopes of a turnaround they might have had were extinguished when En-Nesyri scored his second in the 81st minute. Of course, De Gea was the man responsible for the goal, as he decided to try and control a high ball first time after rushing out of his area.

    De Gea miscontrolled it on the bounce and it fell kindly to En-Nesyri, who made no mistake from 35 yards with the whole goal to aim at. United were soundly beaten and their goalkeeper was left red-faced for what felt like the millionth time.

    As long as Ten Hag sticks by De Gea, these kinds of moments will continue. The Spain international has been unreliable for years, and has very few redeeming qualities left to fall back on.

    If United are serious about returning to the top of the game, it will surely be necessary for them to invest in a new goalkeeper. One that is capable of commanding the box, playing out from the back and keeping out simple shots.