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Who Will Be Man United’s Goalkeeper When Edwin Van der Sar Retires?

Photo by calvinchanphoto

First, let me start by commending Edwin Van der Sar on a long and illustrious career. Coming through the ranks at Ajax, he won countless number of trophies including the Champions League during the very successful 1990s Louis van Gaal years. Moving to Juventus he won the UEFA Intertoto Cup and repeated that feat at Fulham in 2002 before finally completing his move to Manchester United. At United he has won every club based trophy including the 2008-2009 Champions League title in which he saved the last penalty in a tense shoot-out. And the FIFA Club World Cup. The thing that sets him apart from his peers though is his first-class professionalism, reliability and consistency.

Van der Sar was and is the natural successor to Man United’s other talismanic goalkeeper; Peter Schmeichel. The fact he went to Fulham instead of Old Trafford is a mystery in itself. But he did, and Man United were left desperately trying to replace him with a long line of mistake-riddled keepers, á lá Fabian Barthez and Roy Carroll. And you can get the latest odds on the next Man Utd through online betting from BetUS.

As the end of the Premiership season draws ever nearer, the need for a successor to Van der Sar quickens pace. I’m sure every fan would want the right man identified as quickly as possibly instead of another Schmeichel situation occurring; goalkeeper after goalkeeper after goalkeeper, wrong man after wrong man after wrong man.

Who will it be though? Who is good enough to fill the shoes of Van der Sar both in quality and mentality? Will it be a keeper from within the squad or someone from without? These are questions that need to be addressed as a good goalkeeper keeps their teams in matches and wins them points. Look at Cech at Chelsea, Hart at Manchester City, Reina at Liverpool and Gomes at Tottenham. Even Arsenal have looked like they have found their number one goalkeeper for many a year in Wojciech Szczesny.

One possibility is Danish keeper Anders Lindegaard, already at the club. He has been touted as the new Peter Schmeichel but possibly only because they come from the same country. Time will tell for him, he’s 26 and is just starting his Manchester United career though Schmeichel has said he is not good enough — he was replaced at Danish club Odense by Roy Carroll!

My money would be on Germany and Shalke number one, Manuel Neuer whom I believe to be the best goalkeeper in the world at the moment. You just have to watch his performances this season for a lacklustre Schalke side to see how good he is. He has kept them in matches and given confidence to his players to go on and win matches. Neuer has improved drastically within the last few years so much so that he’s Germany’s mainstay goalkeeper. He commands his area well, is a brilliant shotstopper and is agile. His positional sense has also improved two-fold. At 24, he is still young in goalkeeping terms and will keep on improving and is a worthy successor to Edwin Van der Sar.

If anything does come from it though, expect interest from Bayern Munich. The Bayern board of directors were very interested in him before van Gaal promoted Robert Kraft to number one. But with van Gaal leaving in the summer, they might just renew their interest in him.

It remains to be seen whether Manuel Neuer will be receptive of a move to Old Trafford but with Schalke in turmoil and unrest from Neuer himself, this just might be on the cards in the summer. One things for sure though. Man United fans don’t want to wait another six years before a replacement is found.

Who do you think should fill Van der Sar’s shoes when the Dutchman leaves at the end of the season? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.

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  1. tom

    May 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    brad jones

  2. Albert

    May 1, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Athletico madrid has already agreed terms with Manchester United concerning De Gea. The player however hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he wants to leave Spain to join United. I believe Ferguson will get his man.

  3. michael syer

    April 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    I have not seen buffon in action in a while so i do not know how good he still is. However i understand he is a FREE agent at the end off the season even if he is good for 1 or 2 season’s this gives Anders Lindegaard enough time to mature and play in some carling cup/ fa cup games aswell as the odd premier league game’s against newly promoted teams?

  4. Cookie

    April 9, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Or Darren Fletcher

  5. Cookie

    April 9, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Manuel Neuer.SAF should be happy he’s only 24 a Liverpool fan,I pesonally hope they put Vidic in goals

  6. Parvizu

    March 30, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I am not sure there is an available GK that can handle the starting spot at Man United from the start next season. In my opinion we should get a couple of “young” keepers to compete with our current ones and see who gets the nod. There is a shortage of GK worldwide right now.

    I would buy Akinfeev and see if he can handle it. Also I would hire Ochoa from Mexico. Even though he had a late slump in his form, he has tons of experience, talent, and is still young (25). The thing about Ochoa is that his contract is up this summer so he would be a free transfer. It would be a gamble, but one that wouldn´t cost Man United a thing.

  7. Jason

    March 25, 2011 at 10:02 am

    If United win the title I can see Van der Saar coming back for one more year. Otherwise, De Gea will be his repalcement. Neuer is preferred by Fergie but the player has stated he doesn’t want to leave Germany. Reina will go to Arsenal if Fabregas stays.

  8. Terry

    March 22, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Reina of Liverpool has a 18 million pound buyout clause in his contract if Liverpool fail to make it into the Champions League. Similar to Torres’s 50 million pound buyout clause which would have kicked-in at the end of the season but Liverpool decided to cash-in now rather than in the summer. However, whether Liverpool will sell to United is another matter. United have a policy to never sell a player to Liverpool (Gaby Heinze is an example) so Liverpool might do likewise and refuse to sell to United.

    Neuer seems to be the favorite to join United in the summer. De Gea is not as good as Neuer but is younger. As long as a goalkeeper is not in his upper 30’s teams will go after a good keeper even if he is in his low-to-mid 30’s. Just like Van der Saar when he joined United.

  9. Red Ben

    March 22, 2011 at 7:23 am

    I have written a series of posts attempting to tackle this question, and I have pretty much come to the conclusion that Neuer is the one that we have to go all out to sign.

    He’s got the combination of experience and years to give that make him by far the most attractive option.

  10. JC

    March 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Igor Akinfeev, is he no longer considered a big prospect? Not saying he’s a good fit, just curious.

  11. Thomas

    March 21, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    It’s an interesting topic for debate. I wouldn’t be surprised if VDS takes a bit of rest and comes back for one more year. Again, that probably all depends on how the side fairs in the Prem and the Champions League. I think if they win in Europe, VDS will retire on top. But few players at the club level can boast the type of success VDS has had, and he really has nothing left to prove.

    I think it’s hard to ignore the importance a good goalkeeper means at this level, especially a club that is competing on so many fronts. One blunder, especially in high level matches, can cost a club big time…if you look at the perfomances of the last few Prem winners (UTD and Chelsea), a common pattern is consistancy in goal. Even Liverpool finishing as runners up can largely be attributed to the level of play from Reina (without touching on the vastly superior squad they rolled out week in week out). Man Utd fans need no reminders as to how crucial the position is, Arsenal fans will cringe if you mention the word goalkeeper, and Cech’s injury a few years ago probably played more than a pivotal piece in Chelsea losing out on the PL title.

    The most obvious choice is Neuer, and I think that’s been pointed out by numerous readers/posters. He’s got top level international experience, and even though Germany were never expected to win, it’s a football mad nation, and there is considerable pressure to perform. Let’s not forget that he’s also been at the helm of Schalke’s run into the last 8 of the UCL, so he’s got big game experience.

    STEKLENBERG (excuse my spelling)
    I think people are drawn to him partly because he was VDS replacement for the Oranje. But he has plenty of big game experience (a WC Final).

    This would make a lot of sense, as he was (havent seen much of him this season, but probably still is) a proven shot stopper, especially at the PL level. Would a move to a club with the ambition of a MU change things a bit, maybe? But all that aside, are City willing to send him to their cross town rivals, and the side they are trying to match? That same reasoning, and Arsenal’s known frugality is probably what stopped a summer move to London.

    DE GEA
    I think he’s an interesting prospect because of his raw talent and potential. I haven’t seen much of him, so it’s hard to give an honest opinion. I’m making assumptions based on what I’ve read, and what I can conclude (and this is by no means any sort of expert opinion), is that he has a big amount of risk because of his youth, and inexperience in the English game. All you need to do is look at Gomes in his first season at Tottenham to see how that adjustment period can be rather rough on a goal keeper.


    March 21, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    In my opinion Neuer should be the one in the red devils’ post next season, but right now with his form i am sure Shalke will like to cash in big on him. I wonder if Ferguson will be ready to meet the demands in such a situation

  13. Dave (dlbags)

    March 21, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    I have a sinking feeling Reina will ask for a transfer and get a record deal with Arsenal Man U and obviously LFC trying to keep him.

    I also expect Given to be sold too and get a fat deal. Let’s face it, like in baseball with catchers, goalkeepers are clearly going to be in high demand the new few years as it’s one of those down cycles with not a lot of top ones out there.

  14. Jose

    March 21, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    I’d give ’em Almunia on a free. 😉

  15. [OPTI]Madschester United

    March 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    1. Neuer
    2. Adler (self-proclaimed United-fan)
    3. Stecklenberg
    4. De Gea (too young, trouble with increase in pressure)
    5. Kuschjksczxxczack/Lindegaard
    6. Rio 😉

  16. El Tri 2014

    March 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I’d take Neuer or De Gea over Steklenberg and Pepe Reina (who can forget the rumors of Reina swapping sides before King Kenny came riding on his white colt).

  17. Tachey Del Bosque

    March 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Fergie seems to have pointed out two things as most important in his search for a new goalkeeper: a strong mentality & good distribution. One of the main reasons Lindegard was brought in was his distribution. Kusczcak is an excellent shot stopper but he makes you sweat any time there’s a pass back to him! Personally I think Stekelenberg or Neuer would be fantastic. De Gea is exciting but don’t think Fergie’s gonna take a punt on such an inexperienced keeper after the lessons learned from replacing Schmeichel. Gk is the rock that titles depend on as Arsenal have found to their cost so need Sir Alex to be decisive this summer.

  18. alabamabob

    March 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    From a non-united fan, and as someone who is a keeper week in week out, the mind game thing is huge. I can only surmise that on the big stage it is much more. United are on a downslope in talent, which says alot considering that they’re top of the table. Giggs/Scholes/VDS/Rio are all in the twilight of their careers. United have severely struggled to run midfields the way they used to, the defense is porous particuarlly when Wes Brown and Smalling are the fill-ins. Certainly Vidic has many years left of playing and the twins could become weekly sights. But midfield and keeper are positions that United seem to struggle with serious replacements. A good keeper can make the difference between a 1-1 draw and a 1-0 win. If United are to continue their dominance the key midfielders and goal keeper will have to be replaced by talent, not Owen Hargreaves who falls over and is broken…again…

    • deckham

      May 1, 2011 at 7:53 am

      alabamabob…. you’re comments are way off base. Man United’s defense is porous with Smalling??? Smalling has been amazing as a fill-in for Ferdinand. Players like Evans, Brown, O’Shea make me cringe. Even with Ferdinand out you have Evra, Vidic, Smalling, and Rafael. I’ll take that back four any day. Throw Fabio in the back four as well if Rafael or Evra need some rest.

  19. zuqiu wang

    March 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I like R2Dad’s idea of looking for an American keeper. But the greater worry for a potential candidate is whether he can cope with Sir Alex’s (in)famous hair-dryer treatment to make make good in the first place.

  20. R2Dad

    March 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    SAF struggled with this, as has Wenger. The GK position is not like a standard outfield spot. Keepers take all the pounding of an undersized attacking midfielder, but are potential head cases like mercurial strikers. There aren’t enough world class keepers to allow a CL side to start one and keep one on the bench. Successfully growing your own to world class heights has long odds, so buying one is the best strategy. Even De Gea, who has sparkled in Spain, may not adjust well to England, at least right away. A smart club might wait in the wings for De Gea, as he might not enjoy the SAF hairdryer but could still be world class in England. Having said that, everyone knows the USA produces top keepers. Would it be so difficult to invite some of these (All-American but not necessarily American) keepers for a trial? Jeff Attinella (22) , Jovan Bubonja (24), Stefan Frei (24). SAF and Wenger can spot quality field players. Who is the best at spotting world-class keepers (vs just outstanding keepers)?

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      March 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      Being good in America means very little in footballing terms. Look at John Rooney at NY Energy Drink…. he was a League 1 or 2 in England and got drafted 2nd round is MLS. Arguably the best American GK of his generation, Tim Howard, struggled with the pressure at United. Even Mr. MLS Landon Donovan could not justify his price-tag at Everton and he didn’t exactly become a success during his Bundesliga years.

      Players in the MLS, generally, struggle with the increase in expectations (Dempsey and, possibly, Friedel are exceptions here), but as long as US Soccer improves as it has done over the past decade, there is definitely hope on the horizon… where it may be.

      • R2Dad

        March 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm

        I would be the first to criticize the lack of technical skills on our national team field players, especially Michael Bradley and Jonathon Spect(at)or. And no one is claiming the MLS = EPL. But for a country that has only reached the WC quarterfinals, we currently boast 4 EPL-level keepers (Freidel, Howard, Guzan, Hahnemann) and punch way over our weight in that regard. Certainly superior to Hart/Foster/Green/Carson/James. If you want to understand why England struggles, re-watch Seaman misplay Ronaldinho’s free kick in ’02. Seaman, who was one of the top three keepers in the world for at least 5 if not 10 years, never sees the trajectory off the boot and looks away until it’s too late. Then watch Howard, making a throw 40 yards down the field (US vs Algeria ’10), setting up the Donovan score. Or Freidel, who carried the US team in every match in ’02. Lots of people smarter than me have speculated about how throwing and catching baseballs and american footballs helps american keepers see and react to crosses and kicks better than the English players raised on rugby/cricket re: overhead vs underhand balls. I tend to agree, and would suggest any aspiring british keepers come over here for high school and college. They can always play up if they’re good. Frei seems to have benefited from it:
        He’s 24 and MLS will be just a stepping stone for him, should he so choose.

        • [OPTI]Madschester United

          March 22, 2011 at 1:18 am

          I would not claim that Guzan and Hahneman are very good… or even decent… but that is why they play at crappy clubs that are expected to concede 1-2 goals per game.

          Howard is an enigma – capable of producing world-class saves only to commit big blunders under pressure. Kinda like Ben Foster.

          Friedel was world class 5-10 years ago, but is steadily declining and will likely be replaced next season.

          I also would not claim that ANY American goalkeeper was better than Seaman — he might have stuck around too long but he was world class in the 90s.

          I cannot speak of Frei or other American GKs as I do not watch them. However, I am surprised that a 24 year old GK – if so talented – is still playing for Toronto.

          MLS = League 1 or Championship (at best). IMO

          • R2Dad

            March 22, 2011 at 10:39 am

            I suspect the scouting for keepers here is not what it is in Europe, so when a real talent comes along he’s not spotted, recruited or advanced at the rate you see there. In Europe you see 24 year olds finally starting for their national sides, after having gotten good coaching for at least 10 years. In the US, the coaching is at a lower level and the pay-for-play system here warps every decision. I think every place a kid lands needs to take their pound of flesh, so Toronto will sell him in 18 months for a tidy sum (though I think those funds go to the league, not the club), only for Frei to be a backup in the EPL/la liga/serie a. He’ll get to the top, just slower.

        • Dave C

          March 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm

          I agree with some of what you say (although I don’t think Guzan is necessarily an EPL-level keeper just yet -he’s currently playing in the Championship, and has never had a run of games in the EPL). The US, for one reason or another, definitely punches above its weight at GK.

          I don’t follow the logic of analyzing one mistake by David Seaman, nor comparing it to one of the highlights of Tim Howard’s career. Do you think Tim Howard has never made dumb mistakes? If Tim Howard reaches retirement with half the number of medals that David Seaman has, then he’ll be a happy man.

          Also, the theory that playing baseball/basketball/american football is beneficial to keepers…I’m not sure why playing baseball would be any more advantageous than playing cricket.

          I think the underlying truth might simply be that American kids tend to play baseball/basketball/american football more seriously than British kids play cricket (or rugby for that matter). So Americans have better-developed ball-handling skills simply because they play ball-handling games more often (and more competetively) than British kids do, not because American ball-handling games are inherently better at devrloping goalies than cricket is.

          • R2Dad

            March 22, 2011 at 2:54 pm

            I think by now it’s been established that Howard, who can be a top keeper on his good days, lacks the consistency of a Seaman/Kahn/Buffon. He’s still great, plays with passion and is our #1, just not great every outing (and to be fair, not having JT/Rio/Cole in front of him). My point with Seaman is that, even with all of his experience, he saw the kick and didn’t recognize the danger because he didn’t see the trajectory/calculate the curve based on conditions. Everyone makes mistakes, but England supporters didn’t think it would come from him because he’d been so solid for so long. Howard does make mistakes, but maybe not that one–would love to see some statistics to prove/disprove this assertion.
            Logically, British kids should have a better throwing motion because bowling is so similar to a keepers overhead throw. But I think most British kids don’t want to play in goal because when they choose sides they put the least skilled player between the sticks. In the US, we’re putting our best big athletes in there.
            Whether its cricket vs baseball or rugby vs american football I couldn’t tell you. But I’d be willing to wager that if you line up all the EPL keepers somewhere outside the 18 yard box and ask them to throw the ball and hit the crossbar, the americans would have a significantly higher success rate than non-americans. Technically, their distribution should be better though I don’t know that to be fact.

  21. Tony Butterworth

    March 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    It’s a problem. I think history says that being Man Utd goalie comes with a huge pressure that most cannot handle, so you can look great somewhere else and then fall apart at Man Utd.

    You’d think that being a top class goalie would be a simple thing. Learn your positioning, be a good shot stopper, organize the defense etc. etc. but there is something about your VDS and Peter Schmeichals that seems to be inside the head that allows them to handle the pressure. These guys make key mistakes (see VDS v WBA this year) but it doesn’t seem to shake them.

  22. trickybrkn

    March 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Maarten Stekelenburg says the 8ball.

    • Troy

      March 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm

      Can’t say that he hasn’t played in a big game.

  23. farlieonfootie

    March 21, 2011 at 11:14 am

    I’ve seen United linked with several impressive ‘keepers over the last several months, and the competition seems to have heated up ever since he confirmed his retirment a couple months ago. I’ve also seen some speculation that VDS may take a few months off, have a rest, and then come back and give it a go — I’m sure Sir Alex and his teammates are busily working to convince him that the latter scenario is the way to go….! 🙂 Regardless, a successfor for the Premier League’s best goalkeeper needs to be found, and while there may be many candidates, in my mind there is only one answer: Atletico Madrid’s stunningly talented David De Gea. The kid is young, yes, but he has incredible presence, and is a shot blocker extraordinaire. I’m not sure his distribution is as good as Vandy’s, but then again, whose is? For my money, De Gea would provide a long-term solution to a crucial role on the team, and could play goal at United for a decade or more given his age. I hate to see Edwin go, but David De Gea is one of the few men I’d be excited to see succeed him in between the sticks at Old Trafford.

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