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Van der Sar backs De Gea to learn

May 21, 2012

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• ‘I also made mistakes,’ says Manchester United legend
• De Gea should ignore comparisons and ‘play his own game’

Edwin van der Sar hopes the repeated comparisons to his own Manchester United career do not become too much of a burden for David de Gea.

After a difficult start at United, De Gea just about ended on the positive side of the ledger, even though he was not able to crown his debut campaign with a Premier League title.

Sir Alex Ferguson is optimistic the 21-year-old will benefit from last season’s experiences. He is clearly on the radar of Spain’s coach, Vicente del Bosque, who has called De Gea into the national squad for the first time for the Euro 2012 warm-up matches against Serbia and South Korea.

That selection may be more due to the absence of Victor Valdés, whose Barcelona side take on Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey this weekend, and De Gea is far more likely to spend his summer on Olympic duty. Whether that affects his availability for United’s Premier League opening game in August remains to be seen.

Van der Sar is hoping De Gea can hit the ground running and not be too bothered by talk of those who have gone before.

“Maybe it was hard to follow in my footsteps,” Van de r Sar said. “It can happen. People got compared to Peter Schmeichel, now maybe it’s me. De Gea has to ignore that and just play his own game.

“Eric Steele, the goalkeeping coach, and the manager will both help him and hopefully next season he will be ready from the start.”

Van der Sar does not view De Gea’s individual mistakes as being a significant problem and he assumes United did all the background checks on De Gea before spending £18m to sign him from Atlético Madrid last summer so the physical aspect should not be a problem.

“He did get criticism last season but I made mistakes at Ajax when I was young, and also at Juventus and United,” Van der Sar said. “The main thing is how you recover in the next game, or the game itself. He did that. He became more important as the season went on and made good saves. I am sure United knew all [about him] when they signed him, so would have been aware of what to expect.”

Van der Sar, who won four league tit les during his spell at Old Trafford, watched the dramatic final day of the season unfold at home. Like most observers of a United persuasion, he was left shattered by Manchester City’s injury-time triumph.

“While I don’t think they anticipated becoming champions, the disappointment at those final two or three minutes would have been great,” he said.

“If you look at it, they did quite well. They got more points than last year and kept a lot of clean sheets, even with Nemanja Vidic out for so long. To lose it in the last seconds must have hurt so much. I remember a couple of years ago we seemed to have a run of games where we beat them in the last minute. They just got a very big one back.” Read More

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