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Premier League

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea must concentrate on own game warns Edwin van der Sar


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

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

Sir Alex Ferguson is optimistic the 21-year-old will benefit massively from last term's experiences.

He is clearly on the radar of Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, who has called De Gea into the national squad for the first time ahead of pre-Euro 2012 friendlies against Serbia and South Korea.

That selection may be more due to the absence of Victor Valdes, 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 opener in August remains to be seen.

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

"Maybe it was hard to follow in my footsteps," said Van der Sar.

"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 doesn't 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 £18million to sign him from Atletico Madrid last summer so the physical aspect shouldn't 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," said Van der Sar.

"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 have not seen him in his shorts, so physically, it is difficult to say how big he actually is.

"But I am sure United knew all that when they signed him, so would have been aware of what to expect."

Winner of four league titles during his own spell at Old Trafford, Van der Sar watched the final day proceedings unfold with interest at home.

Like most observers of a Red Devils persuasion, he was left shattered by Manchester City's injury-time triumph.

"Whilst 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."