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Manchester United's David de Gea and West Ham United's Lukasz Fabianski before the match. Image Credit: Reuters

London: Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said he has full belief in goalkeeper David de Gea despite the Spaniard’s error handing West Ham United a 1-0 victory in the Premier League on Sunday.

De Gea let a tame first-half effort from Said Benrahma slip into the net as United suffered their second straight league defeat. They remain fourth and a point above Liverpool, who have played a game more.

Ten Hag said he hoped the 32-year-old goalkeeper will extend his stay at the club. His contract is set to expire in the summer.

Clean sheets

“He has the most clean sheets in the league so we would not be here in this position without him,” Ten Hag told reporters. “He fully has my belief. No concerns with him.

“It happens but as a team you have to deal with it, show character, be resilient and bounce back. We want him to stay and extend his contract.”

Asked if Liverpool’s six-match winning run had affected his side, Ten Hag said: “It’s not about Liverpool, it’s about us because if you look to the table we have everything in our hands.

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West Ham players and coach David Moyes celebrate after the win. Image Credit: Reuters

“Nothing changes. We could have made it easier if we had won, but we need three wins in four games. Everything is in our hands. We have to believe.”

Manchester United’s season is at risk of imploding in spectacular style after they appeared to have turned the corner in Ten Hag’s first campaign as manager.

The Red Devils, already with the League Cup in the bag and through to the FA Cup final, were hot favourites to secure a top-four Premier League place just a week ago.

Long season

They are still fourth but after dropping eight points in their past four games are just a single point clear of fast-charging Liverpool in the race for a Champions League place, albeit with a game in hand.

United, who appear exhausted after a punishingly long season, are counting the cost of a lack of firepower and a serious defensive crisis.

Both issues have shown that the club lack the depth of squad to sustain a title challenge despite making significant strides under their Dutch manager.

United have managed just 49 goals in the English top-flight, the second-lowest total in the top nine and a whopping 40 fewer than leaders Manchester City.

Marcus Rashford has enjoyed the best season of his career, scoring 16 Premier League goals and 29 in all competitions, but United are over-reliant on moments of inspiration from the England man.

Barren run

Next on the list is midfielder Bruno Fernandes, who has just six league goals. Jadon Sancho has five while Antony and the injury-plagued Anthony Martial have each only found the net four times.

Sancho and Brazilian winger Antony, who together cost more than £150 million ($190 million) have been frustratingly inconsistent.

Loan signing Wout Weghorst, brought in to add firepower after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in November, has not managed a single league goal.

Ten Hag admitted after Sunday’s 1-0 loss at West Ham that he was frustrated his side could not capitalise on their chances.

A new No 9 will be United’s priority in the upcoming transfer window, with Tottenham’s Harry Kane often mentioned, but the calibre of player they can attract may depend on whether they qualify for the Champions League.

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Dejected Manchester United players leave after losing the contest. Image Credit: Reuters

Double injury blow

Ten Hag has been forced to juggle in recent weeks after losing his first-choice centre-back pairing of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane in the same match last month against Sevilla.

Argentine World Cup winner Martinez, ruled out for the season with a metatarsal injury, has added steel to United’s defence alongside the silky Varane, who could be back in action soon.

Tiredness in the head

Luke Shaw has been used as a makeshift centre-back alongside Victor Lindelof, with club captain Harry Maguire reduced to a bit-part role.

But Ten Hag, who delivered the club’s first trophy for six years at Wembley in February, said his men could not afford to “feel sorry” for themselves.

“Tiredness is in your head,” he said. “If you want, if you have the willingness, you can take it. It’s now up to the players and me and the coaching staff to be together to get the willingness in and the belief we can take it and this team has it.”