Former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar has praised his successor to the Old Trafford number one spot, David de Gea.
The young Spanish ‘keeper was heavily criticised soon after his arrival at the Red Devils and his position as first choice between the sticks was in doubt, with manager Sir Alex Ferguson sometime opting for Dane Anders Lindegaard.
An injury to Lindegaard midway through the season gave De Gea a run in the side and his form steadily improved with renewed confidence in himself – Van der Sar thought coming into the club after his retirement led to undue pressure being put on the Spain Under-21 international.
“Maybe it was hard to follow in my footsteps – it can happen,” he said in The Guardian.
“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.”
The Dutchman, who holds the record number of caps for the Holland national team, urged De Gea to ignore any mistakes he makes and assured him that all goalkeepers do so eventually.
He stressed the most important thing was to come back stronger from any mistake and was confident the United staff had plenty of patience with the £18million signing from Atletico Madrid.
“He did get criticism last season but I made mistakes at Ajax when I was young, and also at Juventus and United,” added 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 am sure United knew all [about him] when they signed him, so would have been aware of what to expect.”