The expression David de Gea has for his prime asset is no tiemblo – "I don't panic" – and the new Manchester United goalkeeper revealed a certain sangfroid yesterday by declaring that those who have already questioned his suitability for United are quite within their rights.
The 20-year-old Spaniard's perceived fallibility from long-range shots was widely chronicled when he conceded to Manchester City's Edin Dzeko in the Community Shield at Wembley and then to West Bromwich Albion's Shane Long a week later, and he also allowed Theo Walcott's shot through his legs during the 8-2 defeat of Arsenal.
But ahead of his resumption of duties at Bolton on Sunday, De Gea told Spanish newspaper AS that he accepted the doubts. "No," he said, when it was put to him that the British press are more difficult than the Spanish. "It's normal when you make mistakes even if it is just a couple of errors. The press has a right to criticise you – and a lot more if you are a keeper. Now it is in my hands to change that criticism that I received at first and turn it into praise."
The bullishness seems out of place with a demeanour that has seemed to telegraph his inner anxieties on the field, especially at The Hawthorns, though those who have observed De Gea most closely always return to a quality of self-belief as a prime asset.
The beanpole goalkeeper, likened to a longaniza – a thin Spanish sausage – by Cristiano Ronaldo, does not exude the air of an individual affected by his errors, in his interview, and also discusses the importance of what he can bring to United's play beyond an ability to keep the ball out.
"I am getting better in every training session and in every game," De Gea said. "I am keeping my confidence in my ability to bring something to the goal. That is the only way I will keep growing as a keeper and have the necessary confidence to be a key player for this club. I have good people around me and we can do important things this season."
De Gea also acknowledged yesterday that he will be granted no acclimatisation time in Manchester. "I know we are talking about one of the biggest clubs in the world and that always brings with it pressure to get immediate results," he said.
"But even so, it's logical that things are a bit different for me at first. I have new team-mates and the football is different from Spain. I have only been training here two months. I am convinced that bit by bit it will end up being easier for me. As soon as you are with [the manager] you realise what an impressive person he is."