Edwin Van der Sar, one of the greatest Manchester United goalkeepers in the club’s history, has said that if his old club are going to be able to defeat Barcelona then they need to change their style of play in midfield. Van der Sar has said his old team need ‘to have more touches, be a little less direct, and more intricate in their play’ if they are to challenge, get closer and eventually beat Barcelona.
Van der Sar’s comments are made on the back of other criticism of the club in recent times. Numerous commentators, analysts, journalists and pundits have stressed that the Manchester United midfield is just not good enough to compete against Barcelona. The consensus was that the Manchester United midfield were too weak last season and with Paul Scholes having since retired, Wesley Sneijder chased and yet not signed, Paul Pogba and Ravel Morrison, promising youth products, still a fair way off of the first team and only Tom Cleverley as a new option the Manchester United midfield has not improved sufficiently. Michael Carrick has not been in favour in the EPL this season, Antonio Valencia has not shown any good form, Luis Nani and Anderson started the season well but have both played poorly in the past month, Darren Fletcher is still a long way short of the form he showed 18 months ago prior to the virus he caught, and Tom Cleverley has barely featured, even though when he has he has been the most promising of the whole bunch. The idea that Manchester United need to change their style in order to defeat Barcelona suggests that Edwin Van der Sar believes that were Manchester United to meet the Spanish giants again this season, and employ the same style again, then they would similarly be defeated just like last season.
Edwin Van der Sar made his final appearance for Manchester United in the 2011 UEFA Champions League final where Barcelona beat Manchester United 3-1. Van der Sar was also the goalkeeper when Manchester United lost the UEFA Champions League final to Barcelona in 2009. On a more positive note Van der Sar was the hero, with a vital penalty save in the shoot-out, when Manchester United defeated Chelsea in the 2008 UEFA Champions League final. Van der Sar quickly became a fans favourite at Manchester United after joining in 2005. Prior to that he had played in the English Premier League at Fulham where he was also a success. Before featuring at Craven Cottage for Fulham Edwin Van der Sar had played for Juventus but he was not especially successful or popular in Turn. He had been signed for a relatively big transfer fee and failed to justify the hype and expectations that the club and the Juventus fans had of him. The Dutch stopper had started his career at Ajax in 1990, where he won the UEFA Cup in 1992 and the Champions League in 1995. At Ajax he is considered a club legend and now works at the club as a coach.