Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson: De Gea will improve

David de Gea had an indifferent start to his Old Trafford career. Photo: PA

Sir Alex Ferguson is confident Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea will make even more of an impact next season.

Now coming towards the end of his second season with the Old Trafford outfit, De Gea has bounced back from more criticism to help keep six successive clean sheets as United charge towards a record 20th league championship.

The Spain Olympic star was also nominated for the Premier League player of the month prize, not a bad effort considering he was being written off at the start of the year, with even former United captain Gary Neville joining in the chorus of condemnation.

Ferguson famously dismissed the criticism, insisting there was no point listening to the "idiots".

Yet speculation endured that De Gea would be offloaded to Real Madrid this summer, with Stoke's Asmir Begovic lined up as a replacement.

That does not seem so likely now, with Ferguson hinting the former Atletico Madrid man will be staying where he is.

"David has developed and matured as the season has gone on," said Ferguson.

"We've seen a very progressive and developing young goalkeeper and next season he'll be even better."

Doubts must have persisted in Ferguson's mind over the first half of the campaign though given the manner in which he rotated De Gea with Anders Lindegaard.

However, Lindegaard's dreadful performance in United's 4-3 win at Reading effectively ended his chances of becoming the permanent number one, with De Gea once again given the chance of proving he was worth his £18million price tag.

On pure shot-stopping ability, there can be no further concerns.

But Rio Ferdinand accepts the physicality of English football does take some getting used to.

"When you are a 'keeper, experience comes with games and becoming used to certain situations," said the veteran defender.

"He hasn't been here long. He is young, he had to become accustomed to his new surroundings and he wasn't given time."

There was also a quick initiation into life as a United player.

As it transpired, a seamless progression through professional ranks to the extent of featuring in Atletico's 2010 Europa League final triumph over Fulham proved to be no preparation for Old Trafford, where every mistake has been seized upon.

"When you play for Manchester United you are under incredible scrutiny," said Ferdinand. "That is just the way it is.

"You have to get used to it. You need a thick skin to be a Manchester United player. Because if you cannot take a battering at times you will fall by the wayside and someone else will fill your shoes.

"He has a huge price tag on his head that carries a lot of weight.

"But he is resilient, even if he still has a lot to prove because this season is not over yet."

Having drawn a blank in his first season at Old Trafford, De Gea is within touching distance of his breakthrough trophy for United.

With a 15-point lead at the top of the Premier League, even if Manchester City win Monday's derby, it is hard to see how they can reverse the situation.

Wayne Rooney and Brazilian defender Rafael are expected to be fit, although defensive duo Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans remain doubts.