Manchester United: David de Gea should have been replaced by Dean Henderson for penalties

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The investigation into Manchester United’s disappointing season began as soon as David de Gea saw his decisive penalty kick saved in the Europa League final on Wednesday night.

The Red Devils needed the win in this tournament to validate this campaign as some sort of success – yet they went 11-10 to Villarreal in the penalty lottery after the game ended 1-1 after extra time.

It would be unfair to blame De Gea for his failure from 12 yards – no one expected the shootout to last 22 penalties – but there is fair investigation into his inability to save spot-kicks.

David de Gea’s hopeless record for saving on penalties continued against Villarreal on Wednesday evening

The Spaniard failed to save one of Villarreal's eleven penalties during the Europa League final

The Spaniard failed to save one of Villarreal’s eleven penalties during the Europa League final

He was then the unlucky one who saw his shot saved when Manchester United lost the shootout

He was then the unlucky one who saw his shot saved when Manchester United lost the shootout

De Gea runs past the Europa League after United seized the opportunity to win silverware this term

De Gea runs past the Europa League after United seized the opportunity to win silverware this term

The heartbreak in Gdansk has only exacerbated De Gea’s terrible penalty shootout record.

To put it in full context, De Gea has now admitted the last 40 he encountered in regular time and shootouts for United and Spain (as shown in the image below from theanalyst.com)

In fact, his last save came five years ago when he disowned Romelu Lukaku from 12 meters in the second half of United’s 2-1 FA Cup semi-final victory over Everton on April 23, 2016.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s in-game management – a routine criticism of his – was baffling against Villarreal, as he seemed reluctant to brush up on his clearly tiring side in overtime.

Because De Gea’s penalty record was so bad, Solskjaer admitted after the game that it occurred to him to replace the 30-year-old in the dying embers with Dean Henderson.

The analyst's chart shows the 40 penalties in a row to beat De Gea for club and country

The analyst’s chart shows the 40 penalties in a row to beat De Gea for club and country

De Gea got the nod about Dean Henderson - despite his better penalty shootout record

De Gea got the nod about Dean Henderson – despite his better penalty shootout record

‘You go through every scenario, of course, and that too [De Gea’s penalty record] had occurred to me leading up to the game, but we had faith in David and were prepared, ”he said.

‘Anything can happen during a penalty shootout. I stayed with the goalkeeper who played the whole game.

‘I have to say the penalty shootout was of high quality, but we didn’t do enough in the 120 minutes to score more goals and that’s the disappointing part.

“ We were busy, we had times when we felt that if we can just kick a little bit now we can get a goal. But we just couldn’t. ‘

In hindsight, it’s a great thing, but Solskjaer should have considered doing this. During the actual shootout, De Gea radiated no confidence at all as he tried to save all 11 of the Villarreal penalties, but to no avail.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted that he considered hiring Henderson for the pens after the game

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted that he considered hiring Henderson for the pens after the game

If you only look at De Gea’s penalty record in the Premier League, that’s grim. Since the start of the 2014-15 season, United’s No. 1 has saved just one penalty kick – and that was against Leighton Baines on October 5, 2014, when United won 2-1 at Old Trafford.

He’s had 24 spot kicks since 2014-15, meaning he has a save rate of just 4.17 percent – the lowest of any player in England’s top flight over this period.

However, it should be noted that he denied Wilfried Zaha from 12 yards in their curtain-raiser against Crystal Palace this season before VAR ruled he was off-line and ordered a re-take – which Zaha rightly scored.

Petr Cech fared slightly better at Arsenal with a 6.25 percent serve, although he only saved one penalty from 16 tries.

Mat Ryan is in third place in this period – he saves two penalties from 17 tries for a mark of 11.76 percent in Brighton.

Only Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel (32) and Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris (27) faced more Premier League penalties than De Gea during that period. Schmeichel has a 12.5 percent success rate on penalties (27 from 32), while Lloris’ is slightly higher at 12.9 percent (25 from 31) – although it should be noted that both goalkeepers have seen penalty takers miss the mark completely.

De Gea's last Premier League penalty came against Everton on October 5, 2014

De Gea’s last Premier League penalty came against Everton on October 5, 2014

De Gea’s hopeless stats are worse when compared to Henderson’s.

The 24-year-old has not been exposed to the long-term level of top football that his teammate has, but he is doing better.

Since his Football League debut was loaned to Grimsby Town in 2016-17, the England international has suffered 15 penalties – four of which were saved. This equates to a savings rate of 26.67 percent – six times higher than De Gea.

Sportsmail columnist Chris Sutton said Solskjaer “missed a trick” by not replacing Henderson for the shootout in Gdansk.

If this were De Gea’s last game at United, it would be a sad way to bow after 10 years of service. However, it all comes down to Solskjaer’s lack of in-game management. This both on him and on the Spaniard’s goalkeeper.

If this turns out to be the 30-year-old's last game for the Red Devils, it's a regrettable way to turn

If this turns out to be the 30-year-old’s last game for the Red Devils, it’s a regrettable way to turn

TABLE TITLE
Player Team Faced penalties Sanctions saved Penalty goals against Saved / Faced%
David de Gea Manchester United 24 1 23 4.17%
Petr Cech Arsenal 16 1 15 6.25%
Mat Ryan Brighton 17 2 15 11.76%
Kasper Schmeichel Leicester city 32 4 27 12.50%
Bernd Leno Arsenal 16 2 14 12.50%
Hugo lloris Tottenham 31 4 25 12.90%
Ederson Manchester City 17 3 14 17.65%
Lukasz Fabianski Swansea City 18 4 13 22.22%
Jordan Pickford Everton 17 4 10 23.53%
Adrian West Ham United 16 5 10 31.25%

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