David De Gea's Transformation Complete at Manchester United

Rob Dawson@@RobDawsonMENManchester United CorrespondentDecember 1, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01:  David De Gea of Manchester United celebrates after Wayne Rooney of Manchester United (not pictured) equalises to make it 1-1 during the Barclays Premier League Match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane on December 1, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

White Hart Lane doesn't hold fond memories for David De Gea.

It was there almost a year ago that the old doubts about his ability to be Manchester United's first-choice goalkeeper resurfaced.

As the snow fell in north London last January, with United leading Tottenham 1-0, Benoit Assou-Ekotto swung a last-minute cross into the penalty area. It was De Gea's ball to deal with, either to punch or catch.

But the Spaniard did neither, only succeeding in squirting the ball to Aaron Lennon, who crossed for Clint Dempsey to score Tottenham's injury-time equaliser.

It was a game United should have won, one they would have won if De Gea had done what he was supposed to. In some ways De Gea, a young, foreign goalkeeper, was an easy target, but the incident cast further doubt on whether he was suitable for the Premier League, and for United.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 28:  David De Gea of Manchester United fails to stop a free kick by Juan Mata of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on October 28, 2012 in London, England.  (
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Fast-forward 11 months and the doubters are quiet. Back at White Hart Lane, United were under pressure as early as the first minute against Tottenham. Kyle Walker floated over a dangerous corner, but De Gea had none of the jitters that cost United two points on their last visit.

Instead, he strode toward the ball and punched it fully 40 yards, relieving the early pressure. After half an hour, and with United already a goal down, Lennon had a chance to double Tottenham's lead. De Gea, though, saved at his near post, and a minute later United were level thanks to Walker's mistake and Wayne Rooney's finish.

As if to put a full stop at the end of a hectic five minutes, De Gea caught Walker's free-kick to ensure United went in at half-time at 1-1. There was little he could do about Walker's free-kick that squirmed under the wall or Sandro's spectacular strike in the second-half.

SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 04:  Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea and coach David Moyes faces the media during a Manchester United Press Conference ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Real Sociedad and Manchester United a
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

David Moyes discovered plenty of problems with the United squad on his arrival in the summer, but his goalkeeper isn't one of them. 

In a year since De Gea's mistake against Tottenham, he's become a Premier League champion for the first time and was voted the best goalkeeper in the league by the PFA.

The questions now are about whether United can fend off inevitable interest from Barcelona next summer rather than whether they are about to ditch the former Atletico Madrid keeper for someone more experienced.

De Gea—still only 23—only has to look across the city at the Etihad Stadium to see that things can change very quickly for a goalkeeper. After all, it was almost unthinkable a year ago that Joe Hart could lose his place at Manchester City.

For now though, De Gea is proving that United were right to stick with him during that shaky start. And that his miserable day at White Hart Lane nearly a year ago is firmly in the past.