David de Gea put in a performance that will have had some Manchester United fans casting their minds back to 1999.
Not the good old days of the treble, but the disastrous performance of Massimo Taibi against Chelsea.
That day United lost 5-0, with the Italian making a number of terrible errors that led directly to goals as weak shots were rolled under him, with his positioning and awareness earning him his ignominious moniker ‘The Blind Venetian.’
Yesterday United were poor as a unit and capitulated entirely, but when your goalkeeper is letting literally every shot past him, it can be hard to keep your head.
It took until the 81st for De Gea to finally making a save from a speculative 25 yard effort from Harvey Elliot. He conceded goal number six within the next two minutes.
The Spaniard ended the game with a 50% passing accuracy, no rushes out, and only one high claim, having failed to conduct his defence for set pieces throughout the game. (SofaScore)
These are all things that United fans have come to expect from De Gea – he isn’t very good at the basics of distribution, or dealing with crossing, or being proactive.
But the Red Devils have stuck with him, even making him the highest-paid player at the club, the highest-paid goalkeeper in the world, and the highest-paid Spanish player in the world, because of his shot-stopping ability.
When he has to wait over 80 minutes for an opponent to trickle a shot down his throat before being anything other than a well-paid ballboy, it is very hard to justify David de Gea’s position in the team.
At this point in the season it is of course too late to really do anything about it, with Tom Heaton and Jack Butland unlikely to offer much more at this point in their respective careers.
Heaton is a popular player in the dressing room but is very much in the twilight of his career, while Butland’s own career has been on a downward trajectory for a long time, despite him only being 29 years of age.
But if De Gea had begun to convince anyone that he was still the man to wear the gloves next season, yesterday will dampen those notions.
It was clear that he was not an ‘Erik ten Hag goalkeeper’ at the start of the campaign, and United’s attempts to sign players of the profile of Yann Sommer and Kevin Trapp suggests that there was a will to replace him last summer.
That will seemed to have been diminishing, with talk of a new contract for De Gea that would keep him at the club for another three years prominent.
But plans change and the likelihood of Ten Hag continuing to turn a blind eye to the veteran’s obvious deficiencies looks to be waning in the face of performances like yesterday’s.
The bottom line is that if you are going to be limited, you need to really excel in your niche. David de Gea just does not seem to do that anymore.