Most of them failed, some sank without trace and neither Fabien Barthez nor Tim Howard could sustain their early promise.
But having witnessed Van der Sar break Steve Death's 31-year-old league record by stretching his unbeaten run to 1,122 minutes against Everton last week, Ferguson admits that the 38-year-old has finally solved the Schmeichel question.
"I tried to replace Schmeichel, but that was very difficult," Ferguson said. "We went for Fabien Barthez and he did well for a while, but he then had his own situations, so we went for Edwin.
"We really should have gone for him when Schmeichel left, but [former chairman] Martin Edwards had an agreement with Mark Bosnich at the time that took the wind out of our sails. So we couldn't get Edwin, but I'd have loved to have got him then.
"He is different entirely to Schmeichel and you can't compare them, but there was a certain criteria to be a goalkeeper here which involved good experience, personality and also a good track record.
"Edwin has all of those qualities. He didn't cost us a lot of money, about £2 million, so he's right up there with my best signings."
United travel to east London having lost on both of their last two visits to Upton Park. Ferguson continues to refer to the 1992 defeat and 1995 draw at West Ham as results that cost his team league championships, but United face Gianfranco Zola's men in impressive form, despite the noticeable lack of goals from Ferguson's midfielders who, with the exception of Cristiano Ronaldo, have contributed just seven league goals between them season.
Ferguson said: "Paul Scholes isn't going to get the goals he used to get, that's obvious, but Michael Carrick has it in him, even though he has only got two this season.
"He made some great runs into the box last week, though, and that's what we want him to do."
Ferguson, meanwhile, has rejected Uefa president Michel Platini's suggestion that clubs carrying excessive debt should not be allowed to participate in European club competitions.
Ferguson said: "That's interesting because no English team would be in it. All those teams that have new stadiums are in debt, Arsenal for instance, through trying to improve their stadium."
Ten goalkeepers used by Ferguson: Mark Bosnich, Massimi Taibi, Ricardo, Raimond van der Gouw, Nick Culkin, Andy Goram, Tim Howard, Roy Carroll, Fabien Barthez, Paul Rachubka.