David De Gea believes Manchester United are ‘cursed’ and admits he’s at a loss to explain why the Red Devils have fallen so far behind their main rivals.
The Spaniard won the Premier League in his second season at Old Trafford, before lifting the FA Cup in 2016 and both the League Cup and Europa League in 2017 respectively.
The latter remains United’s most recent piece of silverware, a drought which is likely to be extended this season as the Champions League is the only realistic chance of trophy left for Ralf Rangnick’s men.
David De Gea believes Manchester United are ‘cursed’ as their travails continue
Going five years without a trophy would be United’s worst run since they finished empty handed every season between 1969 and 1976 – save from winning the old Division Two in 1975.
Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of 2013, United have churned through four different managers but have only seldom threatened to reclaim their role as the dominant force in English football despite spending almost £1billion on players.
‘I think someone has put a curse on us or something,’ De Gea said in an interview with Spanish outlet El Pais.
‘The truth is I don’t know what’s going on, I really don’t.
The Spaniard won the Premier League in his second season at Old Trafford in 2013
He then lifted the FA Cup in 2016 and the League Cup and Europa League the following year
‘People always ask me and we talk about it as team-mates and we just say “we don’t know what’s happening”.
‘We should have competed for more trophies, bigger titles, but I just don’t know why this team doesn’t function.’
Rangnick replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November and will remain in charge until the end of the season, but his arrival has not produced the new manager bounce some expected.
While United have lost just once under the German’s stewardship, they were knocked out of the FA Cup last week and dropped points from winning positions against Aston Villa and Burnley.
Ralf Rangnick has so far struggled to turn United’s season around since replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford at the end of November
Some of the United players are reportedly vexed by Rangnick’s approach to training
Players are also puzzled as to why his assistant Chris Armas (centre right) leads most sessions
Off the pitch, Rangnick has reportedly struggled to win over some of his players, who are reportedly are vexed by the German’s training and puzzled as to why his assistant Chris Armas leads most of the sessions.
According to ESPN, the latter has reportedly been compared to Ted Lasso – the protagonist in the Apple TV+ series where an American college football coach is hired to manage a Premier League side, after only having experience in American football.
Patience is also growing thin among fans, who are increasingly fed-up with the behaviour of some of the players, whom they believe were over-indulged by Solskjaer and have under-delivered for years.
De Gea is among the few who has remained remarkably consisted and was named the Premier League Player of the Month for January.
De Gea failed to save a single penalty as United lost the Europa League final in May last year
With 84 saves, the Spaniard leads the league in saves – 13 more of his closest rival, Illan Meslier of Leeds – but United have the second-worst defensive record of any of the top 10 clubs in the Premier League after conceding 31 goals in 23 games.
United have kept three clean sheets in eight league games since Rangnick took over, but De Gea admitted the Red Devils were still too easy to play through.
‘I don’t know if that’s a good thing [the saves stat],’ he explained.
‘Teams create a lot of chances against us. But that’s what I’m here for: trying to stop goals, help the team however I can and this year things are going well in that regard.
‘Rangnick wants us to be intense, to always press and be on the front foot.’
The 31-year-old was voted the Premier League Player of the Month for January
And he believes Cristiano Ronaldo remains a hugely influential figure in the dressing room
The Spaniard, who missed the crucial penalty as United lost the Europa League final against Villarreal last May, believes United can still finish the season on a high and urged his teammates to rally behind the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese star returned to Old Trafford in the summer 12 years after leaving for Real Madrid and while his impact has fizzled out of late, De Gea maintains the five-time Ballon d’Or winner remains a huge influence in the dressing room.
‘Even just seeing him walk through the door gives you a desire to show you’re at his level,’ he explained.
‘He works so hard and is very demanding of himself. I think he’s a bit calmer than before, but he is a machine. That’s good for all the lads to see, because it shows how you need to look after yourself to have many years at the top level.’