De Gea becomes latest Man Utd ace to mess up in dire West Ham loss

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag was left to pray that their Champions League place does not slip through their fingers as easily as the ball seems to find its way through David De Gea’s fingers. West Ham’s win – the first for Moyes in the league against United since before his time there as a manager – was no more than they deserved.

But with little help from the officials, the London club needed an absolute howler from United’s goalkeeper to get them there. Too many individual errors are costing Manchester United vital points just at the time they need things to be perfect.

Diogo Dalot blamed a “lack of composure” for Tottenham coming back from two-down against United, then Luke Shaw held his hands up – both physically and by way of apology – for the late penalty that cost them the defeat against Brighton. Once again, this was De Gea’s turn.

The United goalkeeper now holds the dubious honour with Hugo Lloris of being directly responsible for a record four blunders that have led directly to goals this season. What he should have held instead was Said Benrahma’s bobbling shot which somehow found its way into the corner of the United net in the 27th minute.

Or at the very least he should have given it a firm push harmlessly around the post. Just as worrying for Erik Ten Hag, though, is that it was no more than West Ham deserved – and arguably much, much less.

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In first-half injury time, Benrahma’s cross appeared to hit the elbow of Victor Lindelof whose arm may have been in a natural position for doing a chicken impression, but certainly little else. But the half-time whistle was blown before VAR seemed even to have given it a second look.

“VAR disrespected us,” David Moyes moaned, Godfather-like, after the recent defeat against Liverpool and certainly it was hardly looking to make amends here. West Ham got the ball into the net for a second time Michael Antonio hooked it over the line after De Gea flapped at a long throw he never looked like getting.

The United goalkeeper was busy making the most of an infringement by Antonio which the assistant flagged for and – again with indecent haste – the game resumed with little apparent recourse to the monitors. At least the decision was spot on when West Ham converted for what would have been a third time – Tomas Soucek’s bullet header rightly flagged marginally offside.

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It may not have been reflected in the scoreline – much to Moyes’ increasing chagrin on the touchline – but it was a fair indication of which side was on top. United had threatened a few times in the first half with Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen all firing wide on enterprising United counter-attacks.

Wout Weghorst had finally produced the first shot on target in the 56th minute and then was promptly hooked off after another largely ineffectual display and with Anthony Martial at the spearhead, United’s attack finally had some more purpose. However, when those United players had pointed out individual errors in those previous games, they had all said that the real problem was United were not clinical enough to atone for them.

And it turns out that even eight minutes of added time is not enough. Now that failure to score leaves them with the chasing pack breathing down their necks as they enter the final straight.

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