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Dublin: 15°C Saturday 31 October 2020

'If you can kick a ball 20 metres in a straight line now, you are on £10,000 a week'

Former Man United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was speaking at the Web Summit in Dublin today.

Van der Sar made nearly 200 appearances during a six-year spell at Man United.
Van der Sar made nearly 200 appearances during a six-year spell at Man United.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

FORMER MAN UNITED goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar has urged fans to keep faith with Louis van Gaal.

Former players, including Paul Scholes and Andrei Kanchelskis, have criticised the Dutch boss of late, but Van der Sar — who played in the famous Ajax side that won the Champions League during Van Gaal’s tenure in 1995 — has told supporters to be patient with his former boss.

“He came in after a difficult period for the club, he invested a lot. He hasn’t been lucky with the likes of (Angel) Di Maria,” Van der Sar told an audience at the Web Summit in Dublin today.

“At Ajax, he came in and the first year was difficult. In the league, we finished fourth.

“I’m sure with his past results, he can bring Man United back success. They need backbone, they need strong players — Smalling, Carrick, Rooney, they need that to bring success.”

The 45-year-old also talked up the virtues of getting ex-players involved in the running of the club.

“It’s a fantastic way of bringing success to your club. You need a Gary Neville. You need a Ryan Giggs. You need a Ronaldo.

“They’re very proud of ex-players at United and they use them in the correct way.

“Bergkamp — look at what he did for Arsenal — those players bring so much to the club.”

He feels clubs in general would be better off using their resources to employ legends rather than paying excessive wages for overrated youngsters.

“If you can kick a ball 20 metres in a straight line now, you are on £10,000 a week,” he quips.

However, Van der Sar also defends young players to a point, arguing that the Premier League clubs neglect homegrown talent all too often.

“One of the big things is that young players don’t have a chance to shine (in the Premier League). Does the manager have the balls to play them?

“The stakes are so high for managers now — look at the Aston Villa manager (Tim Sherwood) a couple of days ago. It’s a rat race. But there’s always been young players at Ajax.

“I moved (abroad) when I was 28. Now, players are in more of a rush to move to bigger clubs. But on the other hand, I can’t blame them if they have success there.”

Source: HDGoalie/YouTube

At his current club, Ajax, they can’t afford to compete with the likes of Barcelona and even most Premier League teams in terms of finance. Consequently, they are more heavily reliant on their youth academy.

“In last five years, we beat the likes of Man City, Barcelona in the Champions League, but one time is not enough — it’s experience we don’t have.

“We’re replacing players with young players all the time. It’s become a problem in Holland

“In 1995, we had lots of young players, but we had experienced players too — Frank Rijkaard, Danny Blind.

“Barcelona pay €60million for players. That’s not going to happen for us.”

After retiring from football, Van der Sar has become Ajax’s Marketing Director, having earned a masters in Sports Management

“It’s good for your own development as a human being,” he says, while adding that it is more time consuming than life as a footballer.

“My career was quite long. I had a lot of time (to think about it).”

And Van der Sar was inspired to go down this route, having spent time talking to people in Man United’s marketing department during his playing days

“I was talking to the guys… It triggered myself to find a different way to fill in a second part of my life after retiring.

“Before I took the job, I went to Manchester and spoke to David Gill. He’s a great guy. He brought United to top of world. He said be careful. This job is going to suck you up. It’s time consuming.

“I wanted same the philosophy in offices to make Ajax successful. I wanted everyone to perform (to the top level).

“Every step you open is something new… What I did on the pitch, I want to do off the pitch.”

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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