Manchester United FC's Juan Sebastián Verón is out to prove himself against RC Deportivo La Coruña.
RC Deportivo La Coruña, who face United on Wednesday, should take particular note of Verón's determination to continue to produce his improved form in the European arena as well as on the domestic stage.
The 27-year-old Argentinian international has so far failed to consistently reproduce the levels of excellence in England that decorated his play with his country and during his time at S.S. Lazio. But last weekend Verón scored United's first in a 2-0 victory over English champions Arsenal FC and he won critical acclaim both for his aggression as well as his craft; some said it was his finest display in a United shirt.
Speaking frankly before Wednesday's fixture against their Spanish opponents, Verón admitted he had not been at his best in his first season at Old Trafford. Some of the barbs that have come the midfield player's way suggest that his particular style does not match with United's high-tempo game and that he only performs at his best in the glare of the European spotlight.
It's not the case that I try harder or concentrate more in European competition than in English league games," he said. "All I can say is that from now on I'm going to try and bring consistency into my game and perform at the same level in all games. I'd like to think that I've always had the confidence of my team-mates, the technical staff and the manager - but obviously when you play well in a key game like the Arsenal one you do gain a lot of confidence personally.
'Rough with smooth'
"Any criticism that is made in a sporting sense I can accept. In Argentina we have a saying that not everything in football is beautiful - sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth and I always use criticism as a way of spurring me on to greater things."
Verón said there had been problems settling into a different country but explained: "Previously I have gone to a club at a time when maybe five or six new players were coming in or maybe the manager had changed. It was easier then to impose your style and strengths on the team.
At Manchester United I came to a club where the same group of players had been playing together for a few years and they were used to playing in a certain manner."
Verón added: "But this is a challenge for the future and I am not going to shy away from it. [Wednesday] is an ideal opportunity when I can give my best and help continue this good run of form."
Eyeing Old Trafford
United beat Deportivo in both legs of last season's quarter-final having lost twice to the Spanish side in the group stages. Verón believes those meetings will have no bearing on this confrontation but pointed out his team's special determination to do well in this season's competition, saying: "
The Champions League is the greatest challenge a player can face, you face the best teams and the best players. What makes it even more special for us at United this season is that the final will be played at Old Trafford."