Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal believes goalkeeper David de Gea may yet play for the club again despite being dropped for their opening-day Premier League victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
Spain international De Gea was not included in United’s squad for Saturday’s 1-0 win at Old Trafford and watched from the directors’ box after Van Gaal decided he was not sufficiently focused amid ongoing speculation about a transfer to Real Madrid.
Van Gaal instead put his faith in Sergio Romero, who joined United on a free transfer in the close season after his release from Sampdoria, and he made a number of vital saves on his debut as United kept a clean sheet.
However, Van Gaal dismissed suggestions that De Gea had played his last game for the club and revealed that the 24-year-old had agreed that he was not in the right frame of mind to feature against Spurs.
“Can he (De Gea) play for United again? Of course,” said the Dutchman. “The position of the goalkeeper is a position especially that you needed the highest concentration and the highest focus during 90 minutes.
“And when you are in circumstances where David de Gea is, it is difficult to cope with that. And we have seen that.
“We have observed in the preparation, in the matches against PSG and Barcelona. And that was not the David de Gea — and he felt the same — as last year.”
Van Gaal hinted that he may not pick De Gea until the transfer window closes at the start of next month and praised Argentina international Romero for his impressive debut performance.
“Of course when the situation has been cleared after September 1 we will look again,” Van Gaal said. “But I’m happy Sergio did well.
“Sergio saved us twice, so that’s also good. Sergio trained only two days with his fellow players and you always train with the group who will play to intensify the cooperation between players.
“So it was logical that his understanding was not so good. But the important thing is he stops the balls and he did that.”
Spurs ‘finished fresh’
United handed debuts to five of their close-season signings, but the overall performance against Tottenham was unconvincing and they required an own goal from Kyle Walker to secure victory.
In addition to Romero, forward Memphis Depay, midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin and right-back Matteo Darmian all started, while German midfield star Bastian Schweinsteiger came off the bench.
And it was the adventurous display of Italian full-back Darmian that drew the most praise from Van Gaal.
“When I have to pick up one player, I think Matteo was the best player,” he said. “Because he played in ball possession very good with not too many ball failure passes.
“But the most important thing is that we have won because there was a lot of pressure on the match, because our start last year was very bad.”
Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino felt his side were unfortunate not to come away from the game with something to show for their performance.
“I think we created more chances and deserved more than to lose 1-0,” he said.
“I was not surprised by our dominance because as always we try to dominate the game. This is our style and our philosophy.
“Manchester United, at Old Trafford, after 94 minutes had maybe one shot on target. Some days in football you need to be lucky. It was difficult for us because we created chances and were unlucky not to score.
“We finished the game fresh. If you see the game, some players from Manchester United (had) cramps. But football is about the score.”