De Gea under major strain -- Ferguson
Alex Ferguson admitted yesterday that David de Gea was struggling to meet the intense demands of playing in goal for Manchester United.
The 21-year-old was heavily criticised for conceding the first goal in last Saturday's FA Cup defeat to Liverpool.
Third-choice goalkeeper Ben Amos, by contrast, was a revelation during the midweek 2-0 Premier League victory over Stoke.
However, Ferguson seems certain to recall young Spaniard De Gea for tomorrow's crucial match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
"He has found it difficult coming into the English game," Ferguson said of De Gea. "The first goal at Liverpool was a case in point. He was crowded out. Our own players created a problem -- they didn't give him room to manoeuvre. He would never have experienced that in Spain.
"It is highlighted when you make a mistake at United. It can be exaggerated a little bit. But there are mistakes and he wants to address it himself. He will do so through maturity and understanding the English game."
Ferguson has been notoriously prickly on the subject of De Gea, rounding upon ESPN interviewer Kelly Cates for highlighting "stupid little things" when she questioned the youngster's form.
The United manager, also without Anders Lindegaard for the Chelsea game because of ankle ligament damage, explained: "It is harder when you are replacing someone like Edwin van der Sar or Peter Schmeichel. They are probably two of the greatest goalkeepers in European football over the last 40 years.
"I found it difficult to replace those players at the time. That's why we went for a young replacement. We felt that we should go for a young 'keeper who would develop and mature into the position, because the potential is there."
As for who will play tomorrow, Ferguson said: "Ben has had a little bit of experience, but it is not the kind of experience you'd expect going into a game at Stamford Bridge."
Amos is likely to have to settle for the role of back-up to De Gea until the middle of March, a period that includes a last-32 Europa League clash with Ajax and also tough domestic fixtures against Liverpool and Tottenham.
"Ben has been looking for his opportunity for quite a while and we wondered about sending him out of loan," Ferguson added.
"But it's not easy to let one of your goalkeepers go when you're in Europe. You need three 'keepers and that's proving its point now."
When he turned his attentions to the game against Chelsea he predicted a tighter affair than when the sides met in September, when Andre Villas-Boas had introduced a new style.
"That was a crazy game," Ferguson said of the 3-1 win at Old Trafford in September. "It could have been 20-18. I don't think it will be like that this time. It will be much tighter."
Five months on, Chelsea still lack consistency but retain a formidable home record against the Red Devils -- they have not lost to them there in Premier League action since 2002.
"It's not going to be an easy game," Ferguson added. "In the last seven years there have been many terrific battles with Chelsea.
"The manager has brought in two or three different players and I noticed when we played them earlier in the season there was a change in the style from previous Chelsea teams.
"When a new manager comes in on the back of someone as successful as Carlo Ancelotti, changes maybe take time. Everyone has their different philosophy and different ways of doing things. That is what we are seeing with Chelsea at the moment." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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