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Edwin's in reach of a new milestone: United keeper eyes European record

18 February 2009 01:16
The last time Edwin van der Sar was forced to pick the ball out of his net was a British League record 1,212 minutes ago, on 8 November 2008, when Samir Nasri blasted his second in a 2-1 win for Arsenal.

Now another milestone is within reach of the Manchester United

goalkeeper. Should Van der Sar repel his former club Fulham tonight and then Blackburn on Saturday, the 38-year-old former Dutch international will break the European record of 1,390 minutes for not conceding a League goal set by Dany Verlinden over the course of nearly 15-and-a-half matches for Club Brugge in Belgium in 1990.

Record breaker: Edwin Van der Sar

 VIDEO SPECIAL: Who is better? The moments that made Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar Manchester United legends

Keeping an open mind is secret of Manchester United Edwin van der Sar's success

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It is the kind of form which has not escaped the notice of the man plotting a route past him at Old Trafford - Fulham manager Roy Hodgson - although he remains more than happy with his own No1 Mark Schwarzer.

Hodgson said: 'To go out there in front of 60,000 or 70,000 people, playing in matches counting for the League, FA Cup and Champions League, your qualities as a goalkeeper need to be enhanced and you need to be a certain type of person.

'Van der Sar has proved he is that. And I would like to think that Mark falls into the same category.'

Van der Sar's enduring form will not surprise Fulham fans who welcomed him to Craven Cottage in the summer of 2001 when club owner Mohamed Fayed was splashing out on Jean Tigana's Premier League newcomers.

Just days after Steed Malbranque had signed from Lyon for £4.5million, Tigana was able to agree a club record fee of £7m with Juventus for the Turin club's first non-Italian goalkeeper.

Van der Sar, voted Fulham's player of the year in 2004, was later to claim that the move to London saved his career after he looked like being confined to the bench by Juve's capture of Gianluigi Buffon for a staggering £32m.

But Tigana's promise of trophies never materialised and in July 2005 Van der Sar, 38, made a £2m move to United, the club's first signing since it was taken over by American businessman Malcolm Glazer.

Mean record: Van der Sar attempts to rack up his 14th straight Premier League clean sheet against Fulham

Hodgson, for one, is not surprised that he has thrived in the spotlight at Old Trafford where Sir Alex Ferguson mentions his name in the same breath as that of United legend Peter Schmeichel. But Hodgson can claim a similar coup in revitalising the form of another veteran stopper in Schwarzer.

The imposing 36-year-old Australian has proved to be one of his most astute signings after arriving on a free transfer from Middlesbrough.

Hodgson said: 'There are a lot of good goalkeepers out there, people who can produce reflex saves, but what Van der Sar and Schwarzer offer you is a certain dominance of their penalty area.

'That gives their defenders the courage to push up a little bit further and they both play with great experience.

'Van der Sar and Schwarzer possess a certain calmness and confidence and that can help the other players.'

Ryan Giggs, likely to be rested tonight following his stellar performance in United's rout of Derby in the FA Cup on Sunday, agrees with Hodgson on Van der Sar's calming influence.

'It spreads right through the team,' said Giggs. 'He is getting better with age. Obviously, he has got great players in front of him. But when he is called upon, he never makes a mistake.'

But Hodgson is clued up enough to realise the Dutchman's outstanding form is not the only cause for concern ahead of tonight's encounter.

United are unbeaten at Old Trafford in 11 Premier League matches this season and will also extend their lead over Liverpool to five points with victory against a Fulham side who are yet to win a League match on the road.

Hodgson added: 'Unless all their players decide to go sleep, we've got to be aware that it is going to be very difficult to break them down.

'The good news for us is that nobody is expecting us to go to Old Trafford and score a goal there. So maybe we can surprise them.'

 VIDEO SPECIAL: Who is better? The moments that made Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar Manchester United legends

Keeping an open mind is secret of Manchester United Edwin van der Sar's success

MANCHESTER UNITED FC NEWS FROM ACROSS THE NET





 

Source: Daily_Mail