Regaining trust and ensuring Madrid summer move happens – Five issues facing David De Gea
Published 01/09/2015 | 15:52
Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea faces a host of challenges after his proposed move to Real Madrid fell through
Regaining Van Gaal's trust
United are prepared to give David de Gea the chance to win back his first team place, despite his obvious efforts to secure a move. But that does not mean it will be straightforward.
Louis van Gaal did little to hide his irritation at De Gea's attempt to leave, he made him train with the reserves and revealed that Frans Hoek, his goalkeeping coach, had held a meeting with the player, who told him he did not feel he could play for the team. "Frans had a meeting with David and he asked him, 'Do you want to play?' The answer was no," Van Gaal said.
"Then I have to take the decision. It is a process. We had been observing him in preparation, and he was not so good, he was not the same David De Gea as before, when he was my best player last season. According to the fans, he was the best player of the last two years."
As history has shown, Van Gaal does not necessarily forgive easily when players dare to cross him...
Regaining the fans' trust
United fans could never be accused of self-loathing: they know their club is the biggest in English football, and take some convincing that they are not the biggest on the planet.
It is one thing for a genuine superstar such as Cristiano Ronaldo to air a desire to move to Madrid, a club he had always claimed were his boyhood heroes, and then get his heart's desire; it is quite another for a player such as De Gea, who endured some fairly wretched days at Old Trafford before eventually proving his class, to do the same.
United supporters do not generally turn on their own, and it is unlikely that De Gea's next appearance for the first team - possibly as early as Liverpool's trip up the East Lancs road the weekend after next - will be greeted with a hail of abuse. But he will be under much scrutiny, and the merest hint that he is not committed could see the mood turn black, and very quickly.
Convincing his teammates he is committed
Teammates, too, might require some attention when De Gea moves his stuff back into Carrington next week.
Footballers are pragmatic beasts for the most part, and are used to seeing their colleagues come and go abruptly, and often brutally. And in public, at least, they have been diplomatic. His rival for a No1 spot, Sergio Romero (below), recently said: "For me I hope that De Gea stays here because he's a good team-mate who always works hard and that is best for the group."
But they will surely have been unsettled, and possibly slightly annoyed, by the swirl of speculation that has surrounded De Gea for so much of the summer.
It has disrupted their plans for the new season, forced them to rejig their defence at short notice and seems to send a message that the player considers himself to be above United in some way.
Convincing himself he is committed
Maybe it is easier for De Gea to convince those around him that he is committed to the United cause than himself.
He had, after all, as good as relocated to Spain already: his pop star girlfriend, Edurne (below), lives in the Spanish capital, and had been desperate for him to join her; the club remains close to his heart and there is certainly no sense that he wants anything other than to move there, if not now, then as soon as his United contract expires next summer.
The net result is that he has to try and retain a level of focus and concentration while playing for one of the world's biggest clubs - both for his professional pride and to ensure he has a chance of making the Spain team for next summer's European Championships...
Making sure Real finally do sign him
It seems fairly implausible that having made such an obvious play for De Gea this summer, and failed, they would not return for him again next year and snap him up on a free transfer.
But there are caveats to that. First, this is Real Madrid - a uniquely political club, who are not above doing some apparently self-defeating things out of spite. Having missed out on him this year, Florentino Perez (below) might just take the 'up-yours' approach to the player next year, even though it is an open goal of a deal.
Second, a year is a long time in football, particularly at this level. A bad run of performances, an injury, or the emergence of some other superb - and readily available - talent could all jeopardise De Gea's dream move. The very thought that he might miss out on Madrid altogether is probably too much for De Gea to bear right now, but cannot be ruled out entirely...