FERGUSON HAILS DAVID DE GEA
Goalkeeper David de Gea's stunning return to form has not caught Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson by surprise.
Ferguson spent £18million prising De Gea away from Atletico Madrid last summer, only to see the Spain Under-21 star commit a series of gaffes that ended with him being dropped after a particularly sorry performance against Blackburn in December.
It is hard to believe De Gea is the same keeper now he has recovered his confidence after a series of outstanding displays, while his save at Stamford Bridge in February to deny Juan Mata an injury-time winner for Chelsea may not be bettered all season.
"I expected him to make a contribution the minute he arrived at the club," said Ferguson.
"Since he was a young kid, our homework on the lad has always been really positive.
"You can't deny the performance level and ability of someone who can get into the Atletico Madrid team at 18 and win the Europa League.
"That is why we went for him.
"Even Peter Schmeichel found it difficult coming into the English game, and he was 27.
"David made mistakes but we forgive that at 21."
De Gea will be in goal for tomorrow's Barclays Premier League encounter with QPR, when victory would take United, for a couple of hours at least, eight points clear of Manchester City, who are due to kick off against Arsenal at the Emirates 30 minutes after the final whistle goes at Old Trafford.
Ferguson has promised changes over the Easter programme, but Jonny Evans should keep his place at centre-back given his recent form.
Indeed, so impressive has the Northern Ireland international been this season that skipper Nemanja Vidic cannot be certain of his place when he eventually returns from knee surgery after being sidelined against Basle in December.
"Some people relish challenges, some people wither," said Ferguson.
"Jonny is 25 now and, although he is young, he has had a lot of experience.
"He had a year at Sunderland and we had him on loan at Antwerp for a while. When they have had that experience it definitely helps them when they get a run in the team.
"(Phil) Jones and (Chris) Smalling were bought for the long term and when Vidic comes back at the start of next season we will have a strong defensive core.
"Nemanja won't travel with us on the pre-season tour, but he will certainly be ready for the start of the season.
"Then I can pick and choose whatever two I fancy or whatever two are in consistent form."
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