Romelu Lukaku has unwavering faith in David De Gea despite another costly mistake from the Spanish goalkeeper that left Manchester United’s hopes of a Premier League top-four finish on a knife-edge.
De Gea has been at fault for a number of goals United have conceded in recent weeks, the latest coming in Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea at Old Trafford.
Antonio Rudiger’s long-distance effort should have given De Gea few alarms but the goalkeeper could only parry the ball into the path of Marcos Alonso, who stole in to cancel out Juan Mata’s opener on his 31st birthday.
The result means fourth-placed Chelsea are three points ahead of United with two fixtures of the season remaining, but Lukaku refused to apportion blame for their predicament on the highly-rated De Gea.
Echoing United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s defence of De Gea, Lukaku said: “I think he’s a really positive person. He analyses really quickly what happens to him.
“He’s been the best player at the club for seven, eight years consistently. I don’t think we should discredit him and say all of a sudden he’s a bad goalkeeper. He’s saved us so many times this season.
“Goalkeepers always have a spell where sometimes it might go difficult. The only thing you have to do is work hard.
“I don’t know how goalkeepers get through it, I’m not a goalkeeper, but he works hard every single day.
“We are here to support him as players but mentally he’s really, really strong, or else he wouldn’t be the best player for seven, eight years.
“There’s no doubt about his ability. And he’s a leader in the dressing room. Now it’s up to us as a team to help and trust in his abilities.”
United’s hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League are now out of their hands but Lukaku, who has failed to find the net in his last six starts but put in a strong showing against the Blues, remains optimistic.
The Belgian striker said: “Until it’s done you keep believing. It’s something that’s in the DNA of the club.
“We have two games where we should give our all, play good football and hope for the best.”
The teams, as well as fifth-placed Arsenal, have suffered some indifferent recent form as the season reaches its conclusion.
That is not lost on Chelsea defender David Luiz, who is determined to secure Champions League qualification for the Blues after they were relegated to the Europa League this season.
Luiz said: “Everybody saw that the last two or three games for everybody were tough. Nobody wants to be in the top four because everybody was losing points because the other teams also need the points.
“It’s important for our club because we are a big club and big clubs want to play in the Champions League. It’s great to be there and play against the best players in the world, the best teams. I miss it.
“But you also have to have the humility to understand when we didn’t do the job one year before, you have to pay the consequences.”