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Saturday, January 31, 2009
Fergie rues missing out on Van der Sar in '99
MANCHESTER, England (AFP) – Sir Alex Ferguson has claimed that Manchester United's move for Australian goalkeeper Mark Bosnich ten years ago cost him the chance to sign record-breaker Edwin van der Sar as Peter Schmeichel's successor.
Former Netherlands goalkeeper Van der Sar, 38, can break the Football League record for not conceding a goal -- set by Reading's Steve Death in 1978-79 -- if he denies Everton for 73 minutes at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The veteran United stopper broke Petr Cech's Premier League record by extending his shut-out run to 1031 minutes during the 5-0 win at West Brom on Tuesday, a result which made it eleven successive clean sheets for van der Sar.
Former Ajax keeper Van der Sar arrived at United from Fulham in June 2005, but Ferguson admits that United could have had him six years earlier had they not moved hastily by signing free transfer Bosnich from Aston Villa.
Ferguson said: “There is no doubt about it, it was a mistake not signing Edwin in 1999.
“I did want him, but at the time, (former chairman) Martin Edwards had done a deal with Mark Bosnich and, unfortunately, it was too late for us because Edwin went to Juventus instead.
“But throughout the 2004-05 season, we were assessing where we should be going in terms of the goalkeeping situation and I left it to our goalkeeping coach, Tony Coton, to get all the information.
“A lot of goalkeepers were a possibility, but van der Sar's name just came up all the time, so we didn't hesitate at the end of the season. We did a deal quickly.
“For Edwin, it was a great lift for him, but also for us. He has brought incredible knowledge and patience to the back four, his use of the ball is excellent and he has all the technical attributes you need.”
Van der Sar recently signed a new one-year deal at Old Trafford. The Dutchman is likely to face competition from England's Ben Foster and Poland international Tomasz Kuszczak next season, but Ferguson insists the veteran can still produce the goods next term.
He said: “At Edwin's age, I'm sure he could go on another year. We are playing it that way, so we will see. He is in the twilight of his career, but the form of his life and he has been absolutely fantastic with his performances.”
United can take a firm grip of top spot in the Premier League by beating Everton 24 hours before Liverpool tackle Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday, but Ferguson has ruled out any complacency at Old Trafford.
He said: “Only one thing is inevitable in this league and that is that it is full of shocks.
“We have lost leagues on the final day and won them on the final day, so we are treating this seriously, no matter who we play.
“David Moyes has done an incredible job at Everton without getting the credit that he deserves. He has never had the resources that you get at a club like United.”-