LONDON: David de Gea is set to cap a remarkable return to favor at Manchester United by starting Saturday’s (Sunday in Manila) clash against Liverpool as Louis van Gaal’s spluttering side bid to banish talk of mutiny at Old Trafford.
Just 11 days after coming within minutes of joining Real Madrid, Spain goalkeeper De Gea on Friday (Saturday in Manila) signed a new four-year contract at United worth a reported £200,000 ($308,000) a week.
De Gea was left out of Van Gaal’s squad for the first six matches of the season because the United manager claimed he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to play.
But Van Gaal says the 24-year-old is now fully focused and hinted he would be back in the starting line-up in place of Sergio Romero this weekend.
“Will he play? I will have to judge the session and he knows that,” Van Gaal said.
“It’s logical that his head is now empty and he can concentrate and focus on the match.
“That is a big change from three or four weeks before, so I hope I can see that and give him his first start.”
De Gea’s return from exile is a welcome boost for United at the end of a week in which Van Gaal admitted Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick approached him earlier this season because they had concerns about dressing room morale.
Reports suggested some United players were unhappy with aspects of Van Gaal’s management, principally the style of the team’s play and the number of team meetings held by the Dutchman.
But while van Gaal conceded Rooney and Carrick aired their worries with him, he attempted to put a positive spin on the situation.
“Rooney and Michael Carrick came to me and said: ‘The dressing room is flat.’,” Van Gaal added.
“But I think I have a superb relationship with my players. It is very positive that they are coming to you and that they trust you.”
United, 2-1 losers at Swansea, and Liverpool, shocked 3-0 at home by West Ham, were beaten for the first time this season in their last matches before the international break, raising doubts about their ability to fight for the title.
Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva, likely to start against United with Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen struggling with injuries, admits the outcome of Saturday’s match will have a significant impact on how both clubs fare this season.