De Gea: Job is only half done
David de Gea is refusing to accept having the last laugh on his critics until Manchester United's Champions League mission is complete.
De Gea has been subjected to enormous criticism throughout his short Red Devils career. Prior to Wednesday night's 1-1 draw with Real Madrid, Sir Alex Ferguson likened the 22-year-old's development to a toddler learning how to walk.
He made a string of fine saves at the Bernabeu, but he knows the job is only half done and he is expecting it to be equally tough in the second leg at Old Trafford on March 5. He said: "The party is not over. We are talking about Real Madrid, one of the world's best. They still have to come to us. It was a good result for us though, one we deserved."
Fabio Coentrao had particular reason to curse De Gea's agility. It was the full-back's curling shot De Gea tipped onto the post in the opening minutes and the Portugal star was also denied in the second half after creeping in at the far post.
On that occasion, De Gea saved with his feet, proving yet again that while a packed Premier League penalty area might not be to his linking, in pure shot-stopping terms he is up there with the very best.
"It all happened so fast," he said. "I got across and was lucky enough to save it with my feet. Overall, I am very happy with my performance. I am improving every (match) at Old Trafford and I am very happy."
Former United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich knows exactly what it is like to be under the severest scrutiny with the Red Devils. And, speaking in his native Australia, Bosnich feels the criticism of De Gea has been harsh in the extreme.
"He has been criticised time again in United's goal," said Bosnich. "It has been very harsh and has come from people who don't really know.
"When you're in goal at the Bernabeu you can feel Madrid's momentum. The roar becomes deafening. I speak from experience. I was fortunate enough to stand in those very shoes when United played against Real Madrid in (the) 2000 quarter-final. It's some experience.
"So well done to David De Gea. He has been linked with a move back to Madrid - possibly as Iker Casillas' replacement at Real - but I hope he stays in the Premier League and continues to prove his value."