It wasn't going to take David de Gea long to realise the pressure he was under at Manchester United after joining the club for a reported £18 million this summer.

A relatively quiet friendly introduction in America was quickly forgotten at Wembley in early-August, when a long range strike from Edin Dzeko led to instant questions over the Spaniard's ability between the sticks.

Shane Long's goal for West Bromwich Albion in the Barclays Premier League opener a week later led to more questions over the keeper, with concerns as to whether the 20-year-old was ready for such high-pressure situations that were going to come his way at Old Trafford.

A clean sheet followed against Tottenham Hotspur followed, and despite saving Robin van Persie's penalty in the following 8-2 win against Arsenal, fingers were pointed in the stopper's direction following Theo Walcott's near post strike.

Sir Alex Ferguson quickly jumped to the defence of the keeper amidst the growing criticism in the media, suggesting a campaign against the youngster in the hope that he would fail.

"There is obviously an agenda on De Gea and we experienced that again on Wednesday. It seems to me people are desperate for the boy to fail. That's the impression I get and I don't understand it. It's not his age because they never did that with Cech when he came," said the manager.

The game against the Gunners sparked a fine run of form for Ferguson's acquisition, with a string of saves in the 3-1 win against Chelsea followed by a couple of outstanding stops at Stoke to preserve a point at the Britannia.

However, the Scot has protected his player from the European spotlight thus far, with Anders Lindegaard appearing against both Benfica and FC Basle. The Dane was notably between the sticks against Norwich at the weekend though, again leading to questions over whether the No.1 position is safely in De Gea's hands.

"It was an opportunity to play Anders because he doesn't have a game for two weeks," the United boss told MUTV.

"He goes away with Denmark but he's not in the team whereas David's got two games with Spain's Under-21s. So it was a good opportunity to give Anders a turn."


 

Whilst a story that gained serious national newspaper attention ahead of the match was denied as a possible reason for omission, Ferguson is renowned for taking his players out of the spotlight whilst negative attention is being drawn.

"Absloutely not true. They're not going to drop me for a doughnut," said the keeper vigorously.

"The manager [Sir Alex Ferguson] is the one that decides. He rotates players a lot and when he thinks it's the right thing to do, he leaves you on the bench."

Either way, the stopper now knows that his starting spot isn't a guarantee, and that life in the United spotlight isn't the easiest to control both on and off the field.

He's learning fast though, and if more performances follow in the style of his last outings, things could quickly turn in De Gea's favour with the Red Devils.

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