DAVID DE GEA has been let down by a poor coaching team and powder-puff backline.
That is the view of De Gea’s old Spanish coach Gabino Rodriguez, who believes the keeper should get an apology from all those around him at Manchester United, rather than the other way around.
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Under-fire De Gea copped a ton of flak for failing to get near any of the 11 Villarreal penalties, ignoring a tip sheet and then fluffing his own spot-kick in the shootout to decide the Europa League final.
The criticism came with his future already in the spotlight, as England star Dean Henderson, 24, edged him for the latter part of the season as first-choice keeper.
Yet the man who coached De Gea for Spain Under-21s reckons Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his backroom team should be in the firing line instead — especially the United manager.
Rodriguez worked alongside Inaki Saez with La Roja’s kids and has kept a close eye on the keeper since his early days at Atletico Madrid.
And he believes De Gea is carrying the can for a lack of tactical nous and backline protection elsewhere at Old Trafford.
Rodriguez insisted: “I always believe the team is a true reflection of the character of its coach. Look at the one led by Sir Alex Ferguson and that would show no mercy.
“But Ole’s team is softer than a muffin and David is suffering the consequences of the defensive frailties.
“You need to protect your best asset in the team, but there is just an uncontrolled mess between midfield and defence with gaps.
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“Basically Ole’s team has a brutal defensive weakness. The two centre-backs are too slow, they are not commanding and other teams are well aware of it.
“The big problem is Solskjaer’s tactical organisation. United’s defensive deficiencies are undervaluing De Gea and Ole just doesn’t convince me.
“In the old days Roy Keane and Paul Scholes not only dictated games, but did the dirty work and were the defensive backbone. In Ole’s team Edinson Cavani is the best defender!”
De Gea’s Old Trafford woes have even put his place as Spain’s No 1 in the spotlight, with increased pressure back home for Athletic Bilbao’s Unai Simon to be their Euros keeper.
But Rodriguez, now a respected pundit and coaching instructor, has no doubts boss Luis Enrique will stick with the United star — and is convinced it is the right move.
‘DAVID IS AN ICON’
He added: “Everybody in Spain is speaking about Simon but for me De Gea is the undisputed No 1 goalkeeper for the Euros.
“David is an icon in Spain, he’s had the same impact the legendary Luis Arconada had in his playing days.
“When I worked with him at the Under-21s, we had players like Thiago Alcantara, Cesar Azpilicueta, Javi Martinez and Juan Mata — but De Gea was a leader in that team.
“That’s very rare for a goalkeeper, but although David gives the impression of being a bit cold, that’s wrong. He is totally the opposite.
“David is a very focused, relaxed and confident person, who doesn’t stress himself out or show any nerves. But he was also a leader.
“Working with him was a massive pleasure for all of the coaches. There were never any complaints but a real hunger to learn.
“He was repeatedly asking the whys and whats of each drill, just because he wanted to know how each was improving him.
“His career says everything about how good he is — but it is very easy for others to start talking nonsense about him when things are going wrong.
“And don’t forget he’s still only 30 so has plenty of time ahead of him. He has just been suffering because of others.”
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