By Rob Stewart
Anders Lindegaard has been tipped to show why he can become Manchester United’s first-choice goalkeeper in the red-hot atmosphere of his club’s FA Cup tie at arch-rivals Liverpool on Saturday.
The Danish international has overtaken David De Gea in the United pecking order in recent games and his former goalkeeping coach at Norwegian club Aalesund, Frank Mathiesen, believes his protégé has what it takes to become Sir Alex Ferguson’s last line of defence on a permanent basis.
“I think Anders can go on to establish himself as Manchester United’s first-choice goalkeeper,” Mathiesen told Goal.com.
“Before this season the odds on that happening were not very good for Anders but the odds are a lot better now. Plus I do not think you have seen the best of Anders Lindegaard yet.
"He is not the youngest of goalkeeper but he has still many years to go and he has not reached his top level yet. There is more to come from him.
“He will become more confident as he plays in these big matches so the future is looking good for him. History shows you that he adapts to the level he is going into and with his professionalism and strong mentality he could go on to do a lot better than he is doing right now.”
Mathiesen says he saw enough of Lindegaard during his two spells in Norway to be convinced that he can sustain the progress that earned him a £3.5m move to Old Trafford a year ago.
“Anders is a modern goalkeeper and he adapts quickly to the level that he is playing in because he reads the game very well,” Mathiesen added.
“I was asked if he had a chance at United when he first signed and I sincerely said I thought he could adapt to life in the Premier League because his ability to adapt is one of his main strengths.
“He progressed very quickly with us, taking step after step after step, and then in a second spell with us moving faster and faster and faster. He ended up being our best player.
Beyond reach l Anders Lindegaard has impressed despite a 3-0 defeat by Newcastle
“When he first arrived he was brilliant in training and was a real perfectionist which was the ultimate sign of a true professional and that made us think he could be something special - and that is the way it is turning out.
“He was not satisfied until he had got everything right. The other goalkeepers learned a lot from him as well about professionalism. He was a real character in the dressing room and showed himself to be a very sociable person who was very popular."
Mathiesen continued: “Before his first game we warned him that Norwegian football was kick-and-rush, was about set-pieces, and that the game would go back and forward at high speed.
“[But] when his first game arrived he didn’t perform well and really struggled in the air and in the box because people were coming from everywhere and he was yelling at everyone else, including the referee.
“Afterwards I told him he would have to adapt - and from that moment he adapted.
"It was a case of ‘okay this is Norwegian football and I have to deal with it’ and he never looked back. He got to know Norwegian football pretty fast. That’s why he performed so well.”
The 27-year-old Lindegaard, who joined Aalesund from Danish side Odense, has played in United’s last five games after De Gea was dropped for a poor performance in a 3-2 defeat by Blackburn Rovers.
And Mathiesen has continued to monitor his former charge's progress, saying: “It is interesting to follow him and I watch United games as much as possible on television. From what I gather he is doing better and better and better.
“He has performed well and I can see that he is adapting to Premier League levels all the time.”
And with a feisty FA Cup fourth round tie against Liverpool on Saturday, Mathiesen is confident he will deal with the pressure at Anfield.
“Given how he coped with United’s games at Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City in recent weeks I don’t think he will have problems coping with the intensity of Anfield,” Mathiesen said.
“He has now played in several massive matches and ended up on the winning sides at Arsenal and Manchester City. He just seems to be taking everything in his stride."
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