MANCHESTER UNITED GOALKEEPER David De Gea claims that the criticism he received during the first half of the season only made him stronger.
De Gea endured a difficult start to his Old Trafford career but has been an ever-present in the United side since the beginning of February and is likely to start against Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League tonight.
“I did receive one or two bits of criticism at the start of the season,” De Gea said. ”But it only serves to make you become a stronger person and encourage you to keep fighting and working hard.
“The important thing is to not let it get you down. It can almost be a positive thing. You can turn it around and through the hard work I’ve waited for my chance and grabbed it.”
Anders Lindegaard began to feature more prominently for United as De Gea struggled but the Spaniard said that his spell on the sidelines helped him to refocus for a more successful return to action.
“I wouldn’t point to a particular incident in the game (as the turning point) but the time I spent on the bench when I was out of the team I could reflect, think hard and regroup,” De Gea said.
“I started working harder to come out of that spell. It made me more determined so when I did get that opportunity to get back in the side I grabbed it with both hands. The thing now is to keep this good form because you know that one slight slip-up and you’ve got quality players waiting in the wings to grab their opportunity as well.”
United manager Alex Ferguson was impressed with the way De Gea responded to a potentially demoralising 2-1 defeat to Liverpool, indicating that match as the point at which the goalkeeper turned the corner.
“If you remember we kept taking him out of certain games in order to let him settle,” Ferguson said. ”It’s not an easy league to come into, as we know. Anders Lindegaard came in and did very well for us.
“We kept that process most of the time but De Gea had a bad game against Liverpool and I felt he was better than that. He had to get his confidence back in terms of handling that particular defeat because if you lose to Liverpool it’s a big defeat. Since then he’s been outstanding.”