Man Utd's decision on David de Gea contract will reflect their long-term ambition

United are moving into a key summer and have a decision to make on David de Gea's contract
United are moving into a key summer and have a decision to make on David de Gea's contract / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

From Wembley - Manchester City took a second step towards the treble on Saturday afternoon.

Manchester United's treble.

They did it by putting their own local rivals to the sword at Wembley.

United had their opportunity to stop it, but relinquished it. They shipped the fastest ever goal in a FA Cup final to Ilkay Gundogan, and then a second to the City captain early in the second half. Both goals preventable, or at least you'd think, for a fully competent Champions League football team.

They weren't preventable on this day though. Victor Lindelof's indecision and lack of aggression in the air led to the first, while the second bobbled past the highest paid goalkeeper in the game early in the second half, undoing all the momentum United had steadily built up since falling behind in 13 seconds against the strongest team on the planet. David de Gea did not have his greatest day.

United have made steady progress over the course of Erik ten Hag's first season in charge, and such progress was reflected in Saturday's result. The United of even a few months ago would have capitulated under the early stress, as has been evident on so many occasions against direct rivals - City included. United were 4-0 down to the Premier League champions at half time in October, similar at Brentford in August, and lost 7-0 to Liverpool in March.

But this job wasn't ever going to be fixed in a season. It's an indictment on the running of United from top to bottom in the ten years since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement which has allowed City to run to trophies largely unchallenged by Manchester's red half, rather than any reflection on Ten Hag's abilities. He has spent his first season reintroducing competence to his new team and has a top-four place and one trophy to show for it.

City are placed to win a treble, but it's been an inevitability for a number of years now. It was always going to happen at some point. Ten Hag's long-term task is to ensure it doesn't happen again by building a team which can match them.

United did for spells of this game and had their own chances, but were let down early in each half by errors from players who aren't cut out to be long-term members of Ten Hag's new United.



Lindelof, introduced lately as an understudy for the injured Lisandro Martinez, has been hesitating under a high ball since his first Premier League start at Huddersfield. Today wasn't anything new from the Swede, though it's expected he'll fall down to fourth-choice centre-back come the start of next season if United sign a new centre half as planned.

But David de Gea's contract situation, and how United deal with their issues in goal this summer, will indicate much about how seriously they're looking to close the gap. 90min understands it's merely a matter of time before the current first choice extends his deal, which runs out at the end of June, but that has been the case for a number of months now.

De Gea has been rightly praised for winning the Premier League's Golden Glove for this season - keeping the most clean sheets in the division - but De Gea has not been an elite shot-stopper for a number of seasons. Saturday's feeble attempt at saving the winner was not the first time the Spaniard has been made to look out of his depth.

Allowing past him a dribbling shot from Said Benrahma at West Ham and awful goalkeeping in Seville remains fresh in the memory.

Combine poor examples of shot stopping with the consistent issue in De Gea's game of sketchy distribution - a 49% pass success rate, or 17 accurate passes from a total of 35 attempted at Wembley - and you've a recipe for consistent disaster in a team coached by Ten Hag. Building from the back is imperative to making his United a success and they'll never manage to do it with De Gea standing in the goal frame.

United have reached a natural end point with David de Gea. His contract has less than 30 days to run and going from the world's highest-paid goalkeeper to the world's highest-paid number two doesn't spell dream scenario. Nor is De Gea remaining as first choice into 2023/24 the perfect play for a team with aspirations of competing with a club of City's ilk.

De Gea's contract situation will become clear as the state of the ownership is clarified in the coming weeks, but a club of United's stature and supposed fresh ambition must make ruthless decisions if they are to achieve their long-term goals.

Parting ways with their longest serving player, and final remnant of Sir Alex Ferguson's United, is a necessary call. Any other action will call for question marks over their decision making.


On this edition of The Promised Land, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders and Rob Blanchette react to Man Utd's FA Cup final defeat at the hands of Man City!

If you can't see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!