Morale high despite defeats: Man U custodian de Gea

London, Dec 16 (IANS) Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has asserted that morale is high within the squad despite a string of poor results this season.

United endured a torrid time at the start of the season and are currently fourth on the English Premier League (EPL) table, six points behind leaders Leicester City. They have crashed out of the group stages of the Champions League and lost 1-2 to English Premier League (EPL) strugglers Bournemouth in their last match.

Critics have also questioned manager Louis van Gaal’s tactics and United’s performance has been labelled as boring under the Dutchman’s tenure. There were reports this week that the players had openly questioned van Gaal’s tactics after the defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday.

But de Gea is quick to dispel suggestions of unrest within the squad and insisted that spirits are high in the dressing room despite the poor results.

“There’s a great atmosphere. The dressing room is very together and united. They are a great set of lads and we’re all very happy with the group of players that we have and I think that’s really important in a team if it wants to achieve big things,” de Gea was quoted as saying by the Inside United magazine.

The Spanish international also praised the young players in the United squad. Several youngsters like Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira have done well after being handed regular chances by van Gaal while the likes of Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Guillermo Varela have made their senior team debut this season.

The 18-year-old Borthwick-Jackson is the most recent product from the Manchester United academy to make the transition to the senior team. The 23-year-old winger Jesse Lingard, also a product from United’s academy, has won a regular place in the starting XI.

Doubts have been raised about the depths of United’s squad due to van Gaal’s increasing reliance on youth team players. But de Gea thinks otherwise.

“I think we have a very young side and I think that the youngsters who are coming up through the youth ranks are fitting in really well,” he said.

“They are all good players and after all they represent the future of Manchester United and I reckon that gradually they will become the side of the future and we’re all delighted that they’re with us.”

The 25-year-old however, warned that United face a tough challenge this season and need to work harder in order to have a chance of winning the EPL title.

“I think that the Premier League is very competitive and there are a lot of strong teams fighting hard to climb the table and fighting to win the league. It’s a real battle, this league is very tough to win and there will be a number of teams who will be in the shake-up for the title, like every year, and let’s just hope that we are right up there and in the hunt for that title at the end of the season as that would be very important,” he said.

“We know that the month of December is always a tough one with a lot of fixtures, and the tiredness can build up, so we need to come out of it at the end with a few good results. We’re working on it right now.

“We’re training hard and we’re preparing well so we can go into those games at our highest level of fitness in order to get through December well placed near the top of the league,” the Spanish custodian added.

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