Regrettably, It’s Best For Us All If He Goes Now…

By on May 5, 2011

Edwin van der Sar Edwin van der Sar of Manchester United celebrates as Wayne Rooney scores their first goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter final first leg match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on April 6, 2011 in London, England.“Go on, just one more year!” Manchester United fans would be screaming that from the stands of Old Trafford for years to come if the evergreen Dutchman, Edwin van der sar were to change his mind and stay at United and in football for another year.

Indeed he could – his quality as a world class goalkeeper has not faded in the slightest, with his reflexes being as swift and agile as ever, and his ability to save the unstoppable, as present as it ever was.

His calming presence in the United goal is something very hard to find in goalkeepers today, and by him retiring, he is giving United an extremely hard job to do – but a job to be done sooner rather than later.

Letting go has proven hard for Van der sar, who recently admitted that he still asks himself why he is retiring. He says that physically he does not need to stop, and by his performances this season, no one can argue with that; he is still, as he says, “fit as a fiddle”. But it is a decision he has made with the help of the people most important to him; his family and his manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.
It takes a brave man to disagree with Sir Alex about football. The United manager said:

“If I was giving advice to Edwin van der Sar, right now, I would say retire. He is at the absolute pinnacle of his career but sometimes, when a player gets to that age, age comes onto you very suddenly. I wouldn’t want to see Edwin van der Sar in that situation.”

As players such as Rooney and Rio Ferdinand call for the 40 year-old to abandon his plans of retirement to no avail, they must turn their attention to making this season his greatest at United. Manchester United must ensure that his final season can be his best season – a season of success – a season when the great goalkeeper goes out of the game he loves on an almighty high. It is only added incentive for the United players to go out  against Chelsea on the week-end and take a win to propel the club closer to a prestigious double in the name of their goalkeeper.

Unfortunately, United must move on quickly. A replacement needs to be found; one of the quality, or potential quality to fill Edwin van der sar’s boots and safe gloves for the next decade or so. With Manuel Neur pretty much crossed off the list already, Sir Alex’s short-list will be even shorter. No doubt Edwin will help Sir Alex in choosing his successor if he hasn’t already, but United will buy a new goalkeeper in the summer – that is for sure – that is the priority. It is what is needed.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t like him to stay another year, but at his age, United cannot be reliant on him as the number 1 goalkeeper, especially when looking forward in the long term future of the club. Perhaps however, the veteran goalkeeper will consider the words of  United legend Eric Cantona when he retires from the game at the end of the season:

“If you have only one passion in life – football – and you pursue it to the exclusion of everything else, it becomes very dangerous. When you stop doing this activity it is as though you are dying. The death of that activity is a death in itself.”

It’s a bit dramatic, but that’s Cantona.

Tell me what you think!

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