Lukaku: De Gea is strong enough to fight back
David De Gea has emerged successfully from testing spells at Manchester United before and Romelu Lukaku is backing the Reds' no.1 to triumph over adversity again.
Back in 2011, when the Spaniard arrived from Atletico Madrid, the 20-year-old endured a baptism of fire in the Premier League. Sir Alex Ferguson was even questioned by the critics for his choice as successor to Dutch legend Edwin van der Sar.
But De Gea went on to more than repay the man who signed him and the club’s faith as he quickly developed into one of the world’s best stoppers, proving himself a worthy follower in van der Sar's footsteps and the great Peter Schmeichel as he overcame the difficult start to his England adventure.
He was the first goalkeeper to be named United’s Player of the Year in 2013/14 and he's collected the Sir Matt Busby statuette in four of the last five seasons. As for team honours, he has helped the Reds to win the 2013 Premier League title, the FA Cup in 2016 and the EFL Cup and Europa League trophy in 2017 - a decent haul for a player who had such a tough debut campaign.
Lukaku believes the memories of De Gea's bleak beginning, and how he recovered from it, will be the foundation for the now 28-year-old to regain his form after Sunday's game against Chelsea.
“David is a really positive person. He has the been the best player at the club for seven or eight years consistently. I don’t think we should discredit him and suddenly say he is a bad goalkeeper,” said Lukaku, echoing similar post-match comments from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Juan Mata.
“He has saved us so many times this season. It happens to strikers, it happens to midfielders and now it is happening to him. He has to learn from it. Goalkeepers always have a spell when it might be difficult.
“He has to continue working hard. You just work and play. I don’t know how goalkeepers get through it because I am not a goalkeeper but I know he works hard every single day.
“We are here to support him. He is strong. Mentally he is really, really strong or else he wouldn’t have been the best player at the club for seven or eight years. There is no doubting his ability.
“He had a bad time at the start of his United career as I remember and he was just a kid then but came through it. He did what he had to do then, turned it round, won trophies and became the best player at the club and he is a leader in the dressing room.
“Now it is up to us as a team to help him and trust his abilities.”
Lukaku believes United should have made up ground in the battle for the remaining two Champions League berths against Chelsea.
“Yes we did (deserve more than a point). In the first half we did well, and in the second half we should have played with the same intensity. It is disappointing.
“Every goal you concede is a bit of a killer. We had to react and we didn’t do that in the second half and it cost us.
“It is sad but we have to move forward. Until it is done then you keep believing there is something in the DNA of the club. We have two games to give our all and hope for the best. We dominated the game and we deserved to win but it wasn’t meant to be. Now we have to get six points.”
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