Date:Friday January 30 2009
Flashback. Imagine it's the summer of 1999, we are basking in the glory of the Treble but also face the daunting task of replacing the best goalkeeper in the world, Peter Schmeichel who's just left United after eight incredibly successful years.
Well, you all know what happened. Mark Bosnich happened, then Massimo Taibi, Fabien Barthez, Tim Howard and - horribile dictu - Roy Carroll. Our goalkeepers were the laughing stock of the country. But it could have been avoided easily.
In that same summer, Ajax finally realised that they could not hold on to Edwin van der Sar who was 28 at that time and the Amsterdam team's inevitable decline made him leave in search for trophies. Fergie did want him but wasn't decisive enough so he went to Juventus where he subsequently lost most of his great reputation due to a string of terrible displays.
'There is no doubt about it, it was a mistake not signing Edwin in 1999,' Sir Alex admitted.
'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 from Ajax 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 keeping 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.'
Who knows how different it would have turned out to be? But I firmly believe that even though he was very shaky at Turin, he would have done much better at United - and shouldn't have spent years at Fulham.
However, this is rather pleasant when our only gripe about a certain player is that why we didn't sign him earlier...
Date:Friday January 30 2009
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