Former Manchester United goalkeeping coach Eric Steele, who was credited with helping David de Gea overcome his initial problems in adjusting to the English Premier League, has given a remarkably open interview to the fanzine United We Stand.
Steele spoke of the qualities that made United decide to move for him as a replacement for the retiring Edwin Van der Sar, citing his advantages as "Calmness, composure and inner strength. Nothing fazes him. Playing in front of 76,000? No problem. Very few possess that."
However, Steele also laid bare the "lifestyle issues" causing De Gea to struggle at first. "He'd sleep two or three times a day. He'd have his main meal late at night. He'd eat too many tacos. We pushed protein drinks on him straight after training. We physically made him drink. We had him in the gym a lot. He hated it. They don't do the gym in Spain as much." Steele also went on to say that De Gea was "lazy in his desire to learn English."
Finally, Steele talks of the prospect of De Gea leaving the club in future, possibly returning to Spain. "I told him not to get sidetracked, that if he did well at United then he'd have a great career. I said: 'Who would you go back to? One of the big two. Would you want to go to Real, rivals of Atlético?' No. It would have to be Barcelona, but he sees that United has been good for him. He captained Spain Under-21s in the summer off the back of his United form. He's going to be with the seniors now in a country with the best goalkeepers in the world."
All in all, a surprisingly open interview, but both current and former members of United's players and staff appear to be more open since Alex Ferguson's departure. Intriguingly, United We Stand (run by the excellent Andy Mitten, of whom readers of this blog during the transfer window will probably be aware) will also soon be running an interview with Ed Woodward. That should be worth looking forward to...