Ferguson tells De Gea: Welcome to England

MANCHESTER - Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea's stuttering start to his career at his new club is just part of getting to grips with life in the Premier League, manager Sir Alex Ferguson said on Sunday.

The 20-year-old Spaniard was at fault for West Bromwich Albion's goal in the champions' 2-1 win at The Hawthorns, a blunder which came a week after his shaky performance in the Community Shield was widely criticised in the newspapers.

"David should have done better but I think it's just a bit of concentration there... welcome to English football," Ferguson told Sky Sports after their opening league win.

"My recollection of goalkeepers coming from Europe is that it's a learning process, it's a different game."

He added that De Gea, who arrived at Old Trafford from La Liga side Atletico Madrid for 18 million pounds, need only remember United great Peter Schmeichel's wobbly start at the club to be sure things would get better.

He said the Dane had endured a torrid time in his first couple of games when he embarked on an eight-year career at the club in 1991.

"But Peter came on to be the greatest goalkeeper of all time possibly," added Ferguson.

De Gea let a tame Shane Long strike slip underneath him to allow West Brom to equalise on Sunday and will be thankful that Ashley Young engineered a winner, which came off Steven Reid for an own goal, to save him from major scrutiny.

Last Sunday, the Spaniard had been stranded when Joleon Lescott headed Manchester City in front in the Community Shield at Wembley before appearing to lose his balance and letting in Edin Dzeko's long-range effort.

His team-mates also dug him out of a hole that day as United fought back to beat their neighbours 3-2.

De Gea, who Ferguson says is making good progress with learning English, has seemed to struggle most with teasing crosses and does not appear anywhere near as vociferous towards his defenders as predecessor Edwin van der Sar.

Asked how he would deal with De Gea, Ferguson - better known for his 'hairdryer' treatment than a softly softly approach - replied: "Pat him on the head... and say to him 'welcome to England'."