Spain coach Fernando Hierro has given David De Gea his full backing ahead of Wednesday’s encounter with Iran, despite fans voting in favour of Kepa Arrizabalaga taking his place in the team.
De Gea came under scrutiny after his costly blunder against Portugal in their World Cup opener. The Manchester United star let Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot go through his hands for Portugal’s second in Friday’s 3-3 draw.
“He has all of our confidence,” Hierro said when asked about De Gea in Monday’s news conference. “I see him calm, training the same as always.
“I have very clear ideas and I know what path we have to follow. My experience tells me that sportsmen need to be given confidence not just in the good times.”
A Marca poll carried out at the weekend which asked readers which goalkeeper should start for La Roja had 160,000 votes cast, with Athletic Bilbao’s Kepa Arrizabalaga receiving 49 percent to De Gea’s 41 percent.
“When facing adversity, one’s state of mind and personality plays a part,” Hierro said. “But his reaction has been straightforward. He has already been through difficult times, no one has given him anything and we are going to be as fair as possible.
“After something like this, you need the time and space to digest it. It’s not all about action, reaction. They had a day off and he was able to clear his head. We have spoken to his day-to-day coach, [Jose Manuel] Ochotorena, and we all agree on the path to follow.”
Carlos Marchena, who joined Spain’s staff for the World Cup last week following Hierro’s appointment as coach after the sacking of Julen Lopetegui, says De Gea has the full support of his teammates.
“As former Spain coach Luis Aragones used to say, De Gea has broad shoulders,” Marchena told Diario AS. “These accidents happen but he has all the confidence of the group and the coach. David feels well and ready for what is coming.”
Former Spain international Marchena, who acts as a liaison between the players and the federation, also told Onda Cero the talk of dropping De Gea is only coming from the media.
“We all know how capable De Gea is of bouncing back,” he said. “It is much more an outside debate and it has nothing to do with what is happening on the inside.”
Marchena, whose full-time job is as the assistant director of football at Sevilla, says De Gea and his teammates had been keen to put a difficult few days behind them.
Lopetegui was removed from the position after the announcement that he would take over at Real Madrid following the World Cup. Reports in Spain claimed part of the team was unhappy with the decision taken by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), which its president Luis Rubiales denied.
“When there are complicated situations, either you unite or the family breaks,” Marchena said. “I found a group that has gone through an unpleasant situation [Lopetegui’s dismissal], but this is a mature group that knows what responsibility it has.
“A World Cup comes every four years and the most important thing is that we carry the enthusiasm of a country. Nothing should sidetrack us from that.”
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.