Belfast Telegraph

Sir Alex Ferguson admits gambling on De Gea

By Ian Herbert

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that Manchester United's decision to make David de Gea their first-choice replacement for Edwin van der Sar was based on less than one full season as Atletico Madrid's recognised No 1, though the manager is convinced De Gea is "only going to get better".

Ferguson has told Inside United magazine that it was at the outset of last season – the first campaign which the 20-year-old began as Atletico's first choice – that United "started to focus on him". De Gea had gone into the previous campaign as cover for Roberto Gago and forced his way into the reckoning despite conceding a penalty-kick on his La Liga debut in the 2009-10 campaign.

De Gea has look composed on tour in the United States. His strong display against Chicago Fire and several sharp stops in the 2-1 win against Barcelona in Washington DC at the weekend mean he is highly likely to start in Sunday's Community Shield against Manchester City. "He's got great composure for a young man. He's quick, got good reflexes, he's athletic, and you know at 20 years of age there is all that potential," Ferguson said. Confident of his prowess, United believe De Gea's currently faltering grasp of English presents one of his most substantial challenges.

Ferguson seemed to confirm that defender Phil Jones needed to be persuaded out of concerns that he would lose the chance of first-team football before he signed for United. "You think he might not play, but the ability he's got and the determination he's got, he could quite easily play," the manager said. "There's no question about that. He's the future, obviously, but he could certainly come in right away. He was first identified when he played for Blackburn's youth team against us a couple of years ago, when they beat us 3-0. He was absolutely magnificent."

Ferguson's discussion of Ashley Young, who completes United's £50m summer acquisitions to date, indicates that he sees him as a wide player, contrary to the views of both Gérard Houllier, Young's last manager at Aston Villa, and Fabio Capello. "His crosses are fantastic ... he can deliver in that area," Ferguson said, having deployed him down the left on tour. "Plus he can play more than one position. He can play wide right, left, even behind the striker, so we have options there."

United have confirmed that Ecuadorean winger Antonio Valencia has signed a new four-year deal, tying him to the club until the summer of 2015.

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