The problem with Edwin Van der Sar
January 5, 2011
As an imposing figure standing in the goal mouth, hollering at defensive slip ups; many could be forgiven for thinking they were in a time warp, taken back to the days when Peter Schmeichel ruled Old Trafford.
Edwin Van der Sar has done what most presumed to be impossible; if not usurping the Dane as King of the Old Trafford goal, then doing more than justice to his legacy in a position where plenty of decent keepers have fallen before him.
This is not to suggest they have similar keeping styles, far from it. Van der Sar is an agile shot stopper to Schmeichel’s bullish, imposing blocker. Both different, both clinically effective. Van der Sar represents a success in the Ferguson transfer policy of steering clear of marquee signings, although it took thirteen keepers before Van der Sar entered the fray.
One area that the Dutchman does have over the red-nosed Dane when it comes to wearing his Manchester United shirt is his longevity. It is nothing short of remarkable that Van der Sar entered his 40th year on this planet still one of the, if not the finest goalkeepers on earth. Young pretenders such as Joe Hart and Pepe Reina may be the future, but for now it is the United keeper who rules the roost. It was him, after all, who was crowned the best keeper in Europe in 2009.
But there is a blip on the horizon. Although showing no signs of ageing, Van der Sar looks set to hang up his gloves at the end of the season. Who on this earth could replace the man who Sir Alex Ferguson himself considers the best since the great Dane? Ferguson does have options; Gianluigi Buffon would be a fine replacement, but only a temporary one, the Italian is 32 himself and will not be in the game much longer himself.
Another option for Ferguson is Inter Milan’s Brazilian keeper Julio Cesar, once again an excellent keeper also with not much longer in the game; although if both were to emulate Van der Sar’s longevity then Sir Alex would be more than pleased. But with the boss reluctant to spend in the January transfer window and keen to find a long term solution to the problem, he may look to a younger model who would be cheaper than the two established stars. Finding a replacement is a headache Ferguson could have done without at a time where United find themselves in a state of flux.
The greatest challenge isn’t necessarily having the ability to play in goal for United, but to take up a mantle that is fast becoming as precious as the number seven shirt worn so illustriously down the years by United men. Edwin Van der Sar has done nothing but cause problems for United, they could have down without the headache of having to find the replacement for the man who filled Schmeichel’s boots; the man who has won almost everything; sympathy must lay with the next thirteen who try their hand at it.