David de Gea has emphasised that reaching second place in the Premier League this season was not good enough for Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho’s men begun the campaign neck and neck with Manchester City, only to fall 11 points behind Pep Guardiola’s men by December.
They were able to avoid the embarrassment of losing the title against Man City at the Ethiad last month, winning a thrilling game 3-2, but ended the campaign 19 points behind the champions.
And De Gea, speaking to the club’s official programme, was adamant that Man United cannot view their league campaign as successful.
“I believe that, for a club like United, even second place is simply not enough,” he said.
“We have to be fighting hard to win something and we have that opportunity next week [in the FA Cup final against Chelsea].
“You get nothing for coming second or getting close to the league leaders. In the end, you always have to be fighting to win something, as that’s what this club and the fans really deserve and so it’s just that — second place is not enough.”
Very rarely has a team in second place, with 81 points to their name, been viewed with such antipathy and criticism from the wider football world.
That points total would have been enough to win the Premier League in 2011 and 2016. Tottenham Hotspur reached a similar total last year and were lauded by every corner of the commentariat for it.
But comparing with other campaigns is a dangerous road. Everything in league football is essentially relative, and City – just like Barcelona did when Mourinho was Real Madrid boss – have significantly raised the bar, reaching 100 points for the first time in Premier League history.
Mourinho’s men, bolstered by wholesale financial backing in the summer, will need to step up their game accordingly.