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Rio for Manchester United captain and Edwin van der Sar looks very tired

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Criticism of Edwin van der Sar based on his two (or three) recent gaffs is warranted, but over the top statements such as EVDS not being fit to make the Chelsea bench are uncalled for and reflect a myopic and vindictive approach to football.

Yes, van der Sar repeated a rookie mistake when he popped the ball out against Portsmouth for the first goal (as he had against Roma). You either catch it or punch it out of your box – EVDS palmed it out aiming for a defender, but both times an opposition player got to it first and scored.

The second time he did it was more galling – I wonder how Ferguson will be dealing with this, and hopefully we’ll see EVDS not making the same mistake again. You can rest assured that Roma players will want to test van der Sar from long range and hope for more gifts on Tuesday.

The own goal was a result of miscommunication, and it’s the second time Ferdinand has scored an own goal after passing the ball back to EVDS.

I was quite happy to see Rio wearing the captain’s armband and I think he should be United’s next captain but one of the things him and van der Sar will have to work on his communication. Both of them are leaders and if they give conflicting calls during crunch situations misunderstandings will happen.

In both cases (this time and last time) it was Ferdinand’s call to make, and the same rushing out qualities that make EVDS so good at commanding his box have also lead to these own goals.

United will cope with it, no doubt.

However, EVDS has looked old to me this season. He looks to be running on willpower more than strength, and I’m hoping that United blood Foster early and prepare a successor next season.

Manchester United face Roma on Tuesday and it is unarguably Manchester United’s biggest game of the season. The Champions League is as important as the Premiership, and with Saha reportedly fit and ready to come off the bench against Roma, you can only hope that Rio and van der Sar keep us safe.

Because if they can keep a clean sheet, Manchester United are through to the semis.

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Ahmed Bilal created Sportslens in 2006. He is a business consultant and entrepreneur who helps businesses identify and overcome their biggest challenges. He’s also the founder of Football Media, an online advertising agency that specialises in sports and male audience targeting, with a monthly reach of 100m+ sports fans in the UK and US. He’s also the previous owner of Soccerlens.com – a sports news site that reaches 3m+ readers / month.