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David de Gea says the job is only half done for Manchester United

Updated: Thursday, 14 Feb 2013 16:18 | Comments

David de Gea was widely praised for his performance in the first leg
David de Gea was widely praised for his performance in the first leg

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 last 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.

Well, he was certainly walking tall in the Bernabeu, making a string of fine saves, including one with his feet, to ensure United grabbed the draw which makes them slight favourites to progress.

But De Gea 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.

"The party is not over," he said.

"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 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 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."

Although there were minor gripes with United's display; Robin van Persie did not have his best night, missing a clear opportunity that would have given United victory, and the edge was taken off Wayne Rooney's attacking intentions in order to limit the space offered to Real in midfield, the overall outcome was a satisfactory one.

That away goal provides a safety net which did not exist in that match Bosnich refers to 13 years ago when United settled for a goalless draw, only to get swamped in the home leg as Real raced into a three-goal lead before easing through 3-2.

And the value of that victory over Everton last weekend now becomes evident as, with an FA Cup tie against Reading, a trip to basement boys QPR and a home game against out-of-form Norwich prior to the second leg, Ferguson has the breathing space required to rest key men.

That is likely to mean a central role for Javier Hernandez, an unused substitute last night, against Reading on Monday, in addition to Nani and Ashley Young, who were not even amongst the substitutes.

"I explained to Javier that Robin van Persie is our main striker and that we want someone to join in from a deeper position," said Ferguson.

"But whenever Javier plays, he delivers. He has 14 goals already, will get ample opportunity and will score more than 20.

"There were a lot of disappointed players.

"Nani and Ashley Young are two international footballers. I find it hard to explain that I have left them out."

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