Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United show faith in De Gea

By Simon Stone

Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan and defender Chris Smalling both remain convinced that David De Gea is the long-term successor to Edwin van der Sar despite a nervous Premier League debut on Sunday.



The Spaniard, signed from Atletico Madrid this summer following the retirement of Van der Sar at the end of last season, conceded a soft goal at West Brom but finished on the winning side as United kicked off their title defence with a 2-1 win at the Hawthorns.

The failure to make what looked like a routine save from Shane Long on Sunday followed a difficult day against Manchester City in the Community Shield the previous weekend, when again United recovered to win.

But Phelan and Smalling are adamant there is no cause for alarm.

“Young or old, goalkeepers make mistakes,” said Phelan.

“We have got trust in him. He will be a good Premier League goalkeeper.”

Smalling added: “He is making some good saves. His agility and kicking are excellent, we have seen that in pre-season. He is going to be a top goalkeeper.”

It is highly unlikely the Spain Under-21 international will be ditched for next Monday's Old Trafford encounter with Tottenham.

Even Ben Foster was not dropped immediately after his first error-strewn performance a couple of years ago. It was not until he cost his side two points against Sunderland a fortnight later that the axe fell.

The difference with Foster is that United manager Sir Alex Ferguson already doubted his ability to become United's number one. That is not the case with De Gea, bought for £18million

However, there must be a chance that at some stage Ferguson will turn to Danish goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard, who impressed during United's pre-season tour, and give the 20-year-old De Gea a chance to develop away from the spotlight.

It took Ferguson six years to find Peter Schmeichel's successor. He has neither the time nor inclination to endure a repeat following Van der Sar's retirement.

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