Helping hand for De Gea but Ferguson will not drop him


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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson acknowledged today that coaching work was needed for goalkeeper David de Gea.

The Manchester United manager is likely to select the 22-year-old to face Fulham in the FA Cup fourth round tomorrow at the end of a week in which his error which allowed Tottenham Hotspur their equaliser in last Sunday's Premier League game has justifiably been questioned by the club's former captain Gary Neville.

"He had a fantastic game and was 30 seconds away from that," said Ferguson. "I remember talking about how well he played and then 30 seconds from time the ball park changes. It is unfortunate for the lad but he has to deal with it. We will help him.Outfield players maybe make 20 mistakes in a game but [goalkeepers] are in a crucial position. We are OK with him."

Ferguson, whose club have announced that Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha will be joining them in July, was reluctant to engage today on topics as diverse as the Eden Hazard ballboy incident and Rafael Benitez's claims that the United manager exerts undue influence. But he did make it clear that he had robustly defended his right to question a match official's performance, in his response to the Football Association's request for his observations on how he conducted himself before the cameras at White Hart Lane on Sunday evening.

"That is what I have put in my letter exactly," Ferguson said. "But you know the FA. You never know. It is one of these things. We are high profile. I think the press plays its part too; they panic when the press [write things]. Some of the headlines were 'Ferguson may be charged by the FA'. You [journalists] have your part to play in that because the profile of me is such that the FA naturally panic as soon as the press criticise them. That is why they have sent me a letter. Whether I think it is unfair or not doesn't matter to them really at this point. I just think it is more about me than what I have said."

The Palace co-chairman Steve Parish said the rapid conclusion of the Zaha deal would enhance his side's Championship promotion prospects. Zaha was at United's Carrington training ground yesterday for a medical ahead of the £15m transfer that will see him loaned back to Palace for the rest of the season.

"I'm pleased that we can put it all behind us and concentrate on trying to get into the Premier League," Parish said. "It's a good deal for us and the player – if Manchester United are interested in your player then you have to find a solution. It's been hard for him to go on the pitch every week with his future in the balance. The way things have gone is an elegant solution."