David de Gea acknowledged that Manchester United are “far away” from where they want to be but vowed to fight back after their Champions League exit.
United crashed out at the last-16 stage of the Champions League after a 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid at Old Trafford on Tuesday condemned Ralf Rangnick’s side to a 2-1 loss on aggregate.
That leaves United out of contention for silverware this season, last lifting a trophy in 2017 when they won the Europa League, with Rangnick’s remaining goal being to secure a top-four finish.
The race for a spot in England’s top four looks set to go to the wire. Arsenal, who occupy fourth and have played two games fewer than United, could be four points clear of the Red Devils by the time they are next in action at home to Leicester City on April 2.
De Gea called on his side to battle until the end of the season, knowing Champions League qualification is perhaps the only consolation that can salvage another disappointing campaign.
“It’s taken me a few days to be able to talk about my intense disappointment from our Champions League exit,” the goalkeeper, who was omitted from the Spain squad on Friday, wrote on Twitter.
“We didn’t do enough over the two games but this is on us. We must use this as energy to improve ourselves, to learn, to achieve and challenge again. That is all we can do in this tough moment.
“I have said many times that we are far away from where we want to be, but we as players will go again for the remaining Premier League games.”
While United – who parted ways with club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in late November – have underperformed this season, matters could have been made significantly worse without De Gea.
Only relegation battlers Leeds United (179), Norwich City (170) and Brentford (146) have faced more shots on target in the Premier League than United (143).
That has forced De Gea to make 105 saves, with Leeds’ Illan Meslier (111) the only goalkeeper in the league to make more stops.
The excellence of De Gea stands out when compared to other goalkeepers in terms of the differential between expected goals on target conceded and the number of times they have been beaten.
Expected goals (xG) on target conceded, a way of measuring not just the quality of a chance but the quality of the attempt itself, when subtracted from goals against displays a goalkeeper’s shot-stopping prowess.
De Gea has prevented 3.83 by that way of comparison, ranking only behind Wolves’ Jose Sa (8.62) in the Premier League.Follow us on Social Media