De Gea grateful for United patience
13 September 2013, 15:32
Manchester - Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea recognises it was the support of his teammates that helped him adapt to the unique challenges of life at Old Trafford.
The Spaniard struggled to get to grips with the Premier League in his first few months after arriving from Atletico Madrid in 2011.
But he has steadily progressed to rediscover the form that persuaded former United manager Alex Ferguson he was good enough to become Edwin van der Sar's long-term successor.
And ahead of United's Premier League clash with Crystal Palace on Saturday, the 22-year-old Spaniard paid tribute to the rest of the squad for the faith they have shown in him.
"At first, everything is new. The football, the culture and how people live," De Gea told the club website.
"The support I have had from everyone at the club has been fantastic. It's about learning how things work at the club and getting to know your teammates. The whole package has been a lesson for me.
"First of all, you have to have the belief in yourself and self-confidence, but that is enhanced once your teammates and people within the club show their confidence in you and their support.
"It's a top dressing room and a great one to join. Everyone in the squad helps you a lot and the settling-in process is made a lot easier by the fact that there is such a warm atmosphere here. All the players welcome you."
De Gea has been an ever-present so far this season under Ferguson's successor David Moyes and will continue his run of games against Palace.
It is a contrast from his first season with the club, when he shared goalkeeping duties with Anders Lindegaard, but the Spain Under-23 international says he takes nothing for granted and still has much to learn.
"It's more about all the things you learn, rather than one individual thing," he added.
"It's an ongoing process as well, especially when you come to a club from another country. The whole thing is a great experience.
"You have to be 100 percent focused in every game at United. For 70 or 80 minutes, you might not have to make a save but then, suddenly, you might be called upon to make an important stop.
"You have to be ready all the time. You must concentrate and focus your mind on the game and nothing else throughout the 90 minutes."
United manager Moyes will check on the fitness of defenders Phil Jones (ankle) and Rafael da Silva (hamstring), with the pair still nursing injuries.
The defending champions will also assess the state of the gash on Wayne Rooney's head that kept the striker out of England's World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.
Rooney's injury has healed well, but United's medical staff would prefer to give him another week before allowing him to make a competitive return.
Palace manager Ian Holloway, sitting out the first match of a two-game touchline ban, says that going to Old Trafford without the presence of Ferguson, who retired as United manager at the end of last season, will be a strange scenario.
"Sir Alex Ferguson has left a legacy. David is a fantastic manager and it was an honour for him to get this job. Only time will tell for all of us what mark we leave for the club we work for," Holloway said.
"I certainly won't be parking a bus. I'll be trying to hurt them with our offensive capabilities, with some of the lads we have got. All I can say is I can't wait for it.
"I can't wait to get the team going and I can't wait to get this group totally well organised and have so, so much clarity of who they play for, why they are here, and what their job is and how good I think they can do it."
- Sapa - AFP