Manchester United's Ben Foster can succeed Edwin van der Sar says Alex Stepney
02 March 2009 02:38
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Stepney is convinced that Foster has what it takes to succeed Van der Sar on a long-term basis even though he has spent much of his time at Old Trafford in the Dutchman's long shadow.
"Ben Foster is a brilliant prospect and I think he will be the one that eventually takes over from Edwin," Stepney told Telegraph Sport.
"He did so well in the Championship and Sir Alex is bound to have seen him progress after allowing him to stay at Watford for a second season to see how he would get on in the Premiership on a regular basis.
"Every Watford supporter I've spoken to assures me that he was their best player even though they were bottom of the Premier League and he even won his first England cap when he was there."
Foster, 25, underlined his potential with a match-winning display against Tottenham at Wembley when he was preferred to Van der Sar's Polish No 2 Tomasz Kuszczak but he will have a hard act to follow at United.
Stepney, 66, won the League Championship and European Cup with United in a 12-year spell at the club that saw him play 433 games and he believes Van der Sar's know-how will be critical to the club's hopes of making a clean sweep of honours.
"Edwin has been tremendous for United," Stepney added. ""His experience will undoubtedly help Manchester United as the stakes are raised in the closing phase of the season. He's 38 and they reckon that goalkeepers get better with age like fine wines and that will help the defenders and the young players that come in."
"His consistency could be critical. If you keep a clean sheet you know your teams not going to lose and as a goalkeeper that's what you always want to achieve. I played more than 500 games for Manchester United and had 200 clean sheets."
"But he has won things and he has played in Italy and the fact is his goals-against record is tremendous and he gives stability to the defence. He talks to them which is important because if you organise your defence you know where to be at the right time.
"That what's what is all about and if the defenders have faith in their keeper which they do then they will do what he says. That makes life a lot easier. If a goalkeeper is having nightmares week in weeks out then they tend to back on to him.
"Everything should start with the keeper and his distribution is absolutely tremendous. Just watch him play - he very rarely gives the ball away."