Football: De Gea holds key to United title bid, says Ferguson

Alex Ferguson (above) says Manchester United are serious contenders to win the Premier League now David de Gea has committed his future to the club.
Alex Ferguson (above) says Manchester United are serious contenders to win the Premier League now David de Gea has committed his future to the club.AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Alex Ferguson says Manchester United are serious contenders to win the Premier League for the first time since he retired now David de Gea has committed his future to the club.

De Gea was on the verge of joining Real Madrid on deadline day, but the transfer fell through because the relevant paperwork was not submitted in time.

The Spanish goalkeeper then signed a new four-year contract at Old Trafford and former United boss Ferguson, who retired after claiming the English title in 2013, believes that could prove to be a huge fillip to his old club's title chances of lifting the trophy under current boss Louis van Gaal.

"I think De Gea can actually win us the league," Ferguson said at an hour-long interview in Manchester on Friday to publicise his new book Leading.

Ferguson also gave a more general upbeat assessment of United's chances of success under Dutch coach van Gaal.

"We are second in the league," said Ferguson, who won the title 13 times during his 26-year reign at Old Trafford.

"We are in a good position because, (leaders Manchester) City hadn't lost a game until last week and then United won at Southampton and the whole thing changes round.

"Chelsea have lost a couple of games, Arsenal have lost a game, if you are there around New Year's Day then they will have a good chance."

Ferguson also thinks the signing of teenage star Anthony Martial could help boost United's chances of lifting the Premier League come May.

United were criticised for paying £36 million (S$77 million) for the inexperienced French striker on deadline day, but he has bagged four goals in his first four games.

"The boy Martial, he could be anybody (he wants)," Ferguson said.

"He doesn't panic, the ball goes into him but he doesn't panic, that's a great asset. I don't think you can teach that."

Van Gaal has said he will hand the reins over to his assistant Ryan Giggs when his contract expires in 2017, but Ferguson wonders if the Dutchman might reconsider his decision, just like the Scot did in 2002.

"You never know what Louis will do. When you get the bug it's hard to leave," Ferguson said.