The goalkeeper has grown in stature, says United's manager, and will become better still with age
Manuel Pellegrini is so fed up with fielding questions about Joe Hart he now provides his own update before anyone asks in an attempt to kill the issue. There were times in the past couple of seasons when Sir Alex Ferguson must have felt like doing the same with David de Gea, whereas for David Moyes the subject of goalkeeping gaffes has simply never arisen.
It is almost a year since De Gea's last brush with unwanted attention, when Gary Neville not only criticised the weak punch that allowed Tottenham Hotspur to claim a late equaliser at White Hart Lane but suggested the United dressing room would also be letting the goalkeeper know how little they were impressed. De Gea returns to Spurs on Sunday a little older and perhaps a little wiser, safe in the knowledge that a blemish-free start to the season has made life easier for his new manager.
"Sir Alex put in a young goalkeeper at Manchester United and there were times when he made mistakes," Moyes said. "Mistakes by goalkeepers tend to be more noticeable. That is probably why very few teams have young goalkeepers who play for them regularly and I thought it was incredibly brave of the manager to stick with David through his learning process. He brought him in and out when he felt it was the right time and, even though he is still young, he has come through a lot of things. Time is still on his side and the good thing is he is going to get better and better."
One of the challenges De Gea has come through is the habit opponents developed of attempting to crowd him out at set pieces, or exploiting his perceived lack of authority in his own penalty area by testing him with as many crosses as possible. Moyes denies Everton used to do this when he was in charge at Goodison, surprisingly since high balls into the area used to be Everton's default against most teams, but believes De Gea has learned how to look after himself anyway.
"I wouldn't say we ever targeted him when I was at Everton because there is a limit to what you can do towards the keeper but a lot of teams did and I think David has coped with it well," he said. "He deals with situations much better than he once did but that comes from age as well. He has grown in stature, gained confidence and has been playing really well. He made a great save for us the other night even when we were three or four goals up."
André Villas-Boas suggested Spurs should be ashamed of themselves after letting their heads drop to the extent of a 6-0 rout at Manchester City last week, though Moyes does not expect another meek capitulation in front of their own fans. "They are still contenders to be in the top four. I don't think they are any worse than last season," he said.
After Tottenham Moyes faces familiar opponents on Wednesday with Everton's visit to Old Trafford. "It could be an emotional evening but I am not that much of an emotional person," Moyes said. "I'll put it in the right place. The people I worked with at Everton were fantastic, the supporters were fantastic and the players were great. But I've got a new job now. I move on quite quickly."