Vulnerable, Defective And Substandard

The only pass that Edwin van der Sar seems to making these days is with the Manchester United supporters.

It has never been a secret that Sir Alex Ferguson’s managerial achilles’ heel has always been with the goalkeeper position, and it seems to be rearing it’s ugly head again.

van der Sar, who has just turned 40-years old, is unavoidably on the verge of retirement, and it comes as a relief that Sir Alex is already making an honest effort to bring in a suitable, accomplished goalkeeper to fill the void when he does call it a day.

There have been a handful of top-class goalkeepers linked with a move to Old Trafford, but Ferguson must pay for the best of the best rather than trying to develop another one, because it is one position that can either make or break a team’s aspirations.

That goalkeeper must possess not only the ability to play for one of the world’s biggest clubs, but also the mindset to handle the stresses of playing on football biggest stage at Old Trafford.

As he has discovered the hard way, Sir Alex has seen many ‘keepers with the ability try to make it, but unfortunately he has only had two in his 24 years to make it more than four years.

Before Peter Schmeichel arrived in 1991, Ferguson was faced with a goalkeeping dilemma having four different shot-stoppers – Chris Turner, Gary Walsh, Jim Leighton and Les Sealey – all making at least 30 appearances in his first four-and-a-half seasons with United.

Following Big Pete’s retirement in 1999, Sir Alex Ferguson went through another 11 different goalkeepers before signing van der Sar from Fulham for £2 million in 2005.

Edwin is revered as the man that helped organize United and lead them out of the dark days during the 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons to the most successful three years in the club’s history.

Conversely though, he has not reach the heights he did in previous seasons, and his age may just finally be catching up to him.

The most disappointing part of Edwin’s game this year has been his distribution, because it has been very poor to say the least.

However, the only time he has been remotely criticized for one of his five nearly costly lapses in judgment has been his hollower against West Bromwich Albion, which cost United two points, and ultimately subjected United to massive amounts of pressure from the media.

Thankfully, his other FOUR mistakes were not as costly, but they also cannot be forgotten or passed off as they have been.

Chris Brunt’s lofted ball into the United six-yard box was not the only time that van der Sar fumbled a very tame cross, either.

Prior to that, his first blunder which went unpunished was against Valencia.

Juan Mata floated in a cross from his right, which VDS completely misjudged it, but thankfully for United, so did Roberto Soldado, and the Valencia hitman was unable to direct his header under the bar.

THREE times in the last four starts, van der Sar has put his teammates under the cosh by clearing the ball directly to an opposing player, and if they were more accomplished finishers, then United would have been severely punished and forced to come from behind.

His next shocking mistake came against Stoke City when he wanted to prevent putting United under the strain of facing a long throw-in from Rory Delap, so he tried booting the ball down field, but it went to straight to the man who he wanted to prevent taking the throw-in.

With the United goalkeeper scrambling to get back, Delap had time to settle the ball down and have a shot from 40-yards out, but the goal gaping, the Stoke City midfielder screwed his attempt horribly wide and VDS was let off.

His next mistake came against Bursaspor in the UEFA Champions League match.

With the match tied at nil-nil, and just on the stroke half-time, Edwin’s weak kick fell to Gustav Svensson 20-yards from goal, but the Green Crocodiles midfielder blasted well over the the United bar when he should have done much, much better.

Most recently, he hurried his clearance and it went straight to Karl Henry, but the Wolverhampton captain did not have the accuracy, or the awareness to really test the out-of-position United goalkeeper.

While he was not at fault for Sylvan Ebanks-Blake’s equalizer, VDS needs to accept responsibility for failing to reach his intended targets throughout the match.

Sir Alex Ferguson has to be aware of the deterioration of first-choice his goalkeeper, so the supporters, whether they agree with this observation or not, must believe that the Gaffer will buy a ready-made goalkeeper to fill Edwin van der Sar’s gloves rather than another tailor-made one.

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