Loan spell was the making of me says Mannone
Vito Mannone has been to Hull and back on his quest to become Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper.
The 24-year-old looked to be on his way out of the Emirates last season when he reluctantly joined Championship club Hull on loan after dropping this clanger at Olympiacos during a rare outing for the Gunners' first team.
Mannone is now hoping manager Arsene Wenger will stick to his word and pick him ahead of Wojciech Szczesny, even when Arsenal’s recognised No.1 keeper returns from injury.
Mannone has kept two clean sheets already this season, and was a hero in the 2-1 Champions League win at Montpellier on Tuesday.
Now, the Italian wants to play on Sunday when the Gunners visit champions Manchester City.
“I am really focused at the moment and I want to do well when I get the chance," Mannone said after the Montpellier game. It’s going well so I am really focused on gaining the No.1 spot and keeping it.
“The boss had some nice words for me and he talked to me as well and said I am ready for the No.1.
“So I just need to show him what I’m doing and hopefully I can get that spot and do my best to help this team win some trophies.”
Mannone set a new club record of six clean sheets in a row at Hull last season and believes that spell in the second tier was the making of him as a keeper.
He stood in for Szczesny in this season's games at Stoke and Liverpool, but lost his place as soon as the Pole was fit.
But after his heroics at Montpellier, Mannone hopes it will be different when Szczesny comes back from his latest injury, to his ankle.
Mannone said: “To be honest, every goalkeeper has his own path. I had mine.
"I had bad times and I just rolled up my sleeves and worked hard. Then, I thought, ‘Let’s go to Hull.’
“Nobody wants to go there really, but I found myself really well. I found a good club, good fans and I gained experience.
“I played games as a No.1 – 24 in a row – so that’s what I needed. It helped me going onto the pitch thinking, ‘OK, I can be a No.1 now.’
“I learned how to be a No.1, really. When you play games in a row and you have games every three days, it is a big challenge because you need to recover well and prepare for the next one again.
“The keeper is one of the most important positions on the field because you can make a save and bring the three points home or you can make a mistake and everything is your fault. I am ready for it.
“I had two clean sheets in the first two games I played and before the Southampton game the boss talked to me and for the first time I felt he understood I was ready to be No.1.
“As he said, I am really close to the shirt. At the minute I hope after this result, something’s changed.”
On Sunday's game, Mannone added: “It is a tough test. I thought we were in a good state at Liverpool because we went to a big game in a big stadium and from there we really started our season.