Van der Sar - Man Utd's David de Gea must deal with tough start

Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea
De Gea has kept six clean sheets in 21 appearances for Manchester United

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar insists David de Gea has to "deal" with his tough start to life at the club.

De Gea, 21, was signed in an £18.3m deal from Atletico Madrid last summer following Van der Sar's retirement.

The Spaniard has attracted criticism after struggling to adapt in his first months in the Premier League.

"He has to deal with that. They paid a lot of money for him and he has to come through that," Van der Sar said.

"It's always difficult if you're coming into a new club and new league, especially the English one. It's a very demanding one and can be very tough."

De Gea's ongoing problems, coupled with Anders Lindegaard being out for a month with an ankle problem, has led to some speculation that Sir Alex Ferguson could ask Van der Sar to follow Paul Scholes out of retirement.

Former Ajax, Juventus and Fulham goalkeeper Van der Sar, 41, called time on his career at the end of last season, bringing an impressive six-year spell at United to a close.

Ferguson has dismissed any suggestion that the Dutchman, who has described Lindegaard's performances this season as "magnificent", could return to Old Trafford as a player.

Van der Sar also maintains that, while he is not surprised to see Scholes back at United, he has no intention of reconsidering retirement.

He added: "I got a few text messages from friends saying, 'What about you?' I'm quite happy at the moment. There's no doubt in my mind.

"I was at (United's training ground) Carrington and Scholes was watching a training session and I said 'So, how do you like it?'.

"He said, 'Not really. I miss it'. He was still there doing his work as an assistant coach with the reserve team so it was probably a little bit easier to get back in."

Van der Sar believes his old club have shown their character since the turn of the year.

Ferguson's side are two points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City and Van der Sar believes his old team can win a fifth title in six seasons.

He said: "I think United have had a reasonably strong, competitive last month.

"I see the qualities United have and the tactics Ferguson can deploy. Hopefully that can be enough for another title."