EPL

De Gea on Man Utd's defeat to Watford: It was nightmare after nightmare – it's not acceptable

By Sports Desk November 20, 2021

David de Gea once again apologised to supporters following Manchester United's "nightmare" display against Watford and accepts his side's current form is not acceptable.

United fell to a fifth defeat in seven Premier League matches with a 4-1 reverse at the hands of lowly Watford on Saturday, piling further pressure on boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The defeat at Vicarage Road was United's heaviest against a newly-promoted side since a 5-1 loss to Manchester City in September 1989.

Solskjaer's side have now conceded 29 goals in all competitions this season – only Norwich City and Leicester City (both 30) have shipped more among Premier League clubs.

De Gea, who saved two penalties and was United's best player on the day despite conceding four goals, admits after the latest defeat that a big turnaround is needed.

"There's not much to say – it was embarrassing to see Man United play like we did today," he told Sky Sports. "It's not acceptable – the way we were playing and doing things. 

"The first half was embarrassing – we could've conceded four goals in 45 minutes. It was hard to watch the team playing today – it was nightmare after nightmare. 

"It's not acceptable. We are trying to give our best and fight for the team but for sure something is very wrong. 

"You can see in the games – it's very low level, very poor. Sorry to the fans, once again."

United struggled to cope with high-pressing Watford and were two goals down at half-time through strikes from Joshua King and Ismaila Sarr, who earlier had two penalties saved by De Gea.

Kiko Femenia converted the rebound from the first of those but the spot-kick had to be retaken due to encroachment, with De Gea again equal to the second attempt.

Substitute Donny van de Beek pulled one back five minutes after being brought on, but United then lost Harry Maguire to a second bookable offence with 69 minutes played.

That was Maguire's first sending-off for United on what was his 121st appearance for the club in all competitions, capping what has been a tough month for the centre-back at club level.

The Red Devils enjoyed a spell on top without making it count, before Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis sealed an emphatic win for Watford, who started the day in 17th place.

Solskjaer held his hands up towards United's travelling supporters at full-time and appeared to wave, but De Gea insists the players should take the blame.

"It's easy to blame the manager or the staff but sometimes it's the players. We need to show much more than we are doing," he said.

"I've been in difficult moments and always believe in myself but there are difficult moments we have to be strong in mind and body. 

"We are paid to play for United and to do better than that. This is not Manchester United or the way we ought to play – it's difficult to say more than that.

"It's been very bad for a long time – a club like Man United we have to be fighting for trophies and fighting for big things and to be honest we are far from that. 

"Let's see – we have to keep working hard and stick together. We always say the same things but it's the truth – we have to look at ourselves and see where we can improve."

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    United claimed their first Premier League victory of 2022 on Wednesday, with Anthony Elanga, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford getting the goals before a late Ivan Toney consolation.

    The visitors were fortunate to not trail at the break but produced a hugely improved display in the second half, with Ronaldo playing a part in Greenwood's goal as he chested the ball into Bruno Fernandes' path before he squared to the 20-year-old.

    Greenwood and Ronaldo were withdrawn nine minutes later, with Rashford and Harry Maguire entering the pitch as Rangnick changed to a back five.

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    In the aftermath of Rashford's goal, Rangnick could be seen having a word in Ronaldo's ear, the situation appearing to be defused.

    "It's normal, as a striker he wants to score goals," Rangnick told BT Sport before going on to explain his decision.

    "He came back from a little injury, so for me, it was also important to bear in mind we also have another game in three days' time.

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    United were indebted to David de Gea's performance as he made seven saves over the course of the match, increasing his season total to 81 – 11 more than any other Premier League goalkeeper.

    The Spaniard's form has been exceptional this season, with his 6.2 'goals prevented' being the best figure among keepers in the top flight.

    Rangnick acknowledged United fell well short of expectations in the first half, before paying tribute to De Gea's brilliant form.

    Asked if he had to get tough at half-time, Rangnick said: "I wouldn't say a strong conversation [was had] but obviously we had to change a few things.

    "In the first half we were not good in almost all aspects of the game: sloppy passing, not strong enough in the 50:50 situations, we gave away almost every second ball.

    "Then in the second half we were more urgent, attacking them higher up the pitch and making the right decisions when on the counter, and we scored – this was the big difference."

    On De Gea's display, he added: "He's been doing that for the last couple of weeks. Brilliant saves in the first half, [he's] one of the best goalkeepers in the world right now I'd say."

    Victory for United moved them on to 35 points, level with Arsenal in sixth, though the Gunners have played one match less.

  • Conte salutes Spurs fight after Bergwijn snatches dramatic win at Leicester Conte salutes Spurs fight after Bergwijn snatches dramatic win at Leicester

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    He added: "We know we have a long path in front of us but for me, it is important to know they want to improve. Step by step we need to raise our level and improve quality. Today we played a good game and if I have to see one situation we need to improve, there are key moments.

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