Steele looking out for United number one
Manchester United are ready for the day when Edwin Van der Sar finally calls it quits. Goalkeeping coach Eric Steele is primed with a list of targets and is ready to pounce the moment Sir Alex Ferguson decides to make his move in the transfer market. Van der Sar, who will be 40 later this month, is set to refuse a new contract offer at Old Trafford and quit at the end of the season. Whether they plump for an internal promotion with deputy Tomas Kuszczak handed the job next term or bring in a new No.1, the Reds will need to dive into the transfer market. Even if Van der Sar makes a U-turn and sticks around for another 12 months, United could well bring in a fresh face to blood in preparation for the Dutchman's exit. Retirement Ben Foster's £6m departure to Birmingham City in the summer saw 20-year-old rookie Ben Amos step into the senior picture. But the spectre of Van der Sar's retirement means Steele's list of potential recruits is close to being acted upon. Without a doubt this is a critical point in the goalkeeping department and what we do. There is no point in hiding it, Steele told M.E.N. Sport. United have been linked with a host of goalkeeping names. Steele was recently clocked watching Atletico Madrid's David de Gea when he and Sir Alex Ferguson checked on the Reds'Champions League opponents Valencia. He has made visits to Denmark to watch Aalesunds' 26-year-old Anders Lindegaard. Schalke's Manuel Neuer, Lyon's Hugo Lloris and Ajax's Dutch number one and World Cup finalist Maarten Stekelenburg have all been linked with a move to Old Trafford. City's out-of-favour No.2 Shay Given was also reported to be a Fergie target, but a cross-city move is a non-starter. My job is to make sure we have the chance of getting the best if the manager at any point decides we want a number one, number two or number three, said Steele. It is my job to say here are the names. It is no different now just because Edwin is about to hit 40. It was the same two years ago when he was 38. The review is constant. It is an ongoing situation. I am doing as much scouting now as I did two years ago when we had Edwin, Tomasz, Ben Foster, Tom Heaton and Ben Amos coming through. Manchester United are constantly being challenged and fans say we should have the best. That is what the manager believes in also. It is the tradition of the club. But, of course, as time goes by and players haven't got younger, there is a bit more urgency now. We have to be prepared. You don't know the moment when action will have to be taken. Now the August window has gone it is a question of do we do something in January or the summer. The manager will look at that in most positions anyway. An injury or loss of form might change his mind in any position. As coaches and scouting staff we have to say that if the manager wants to do it in January we have to be ready. If he wants to do it in the summer we have to be ready then. The ultimate decision lies with him. We have to be prepared. The moment he wants to do it I have to say here are the options. I have a dossier ready for if and when the manager and chief executive David Gill says who do you think?' Options There are candidates now who we'd be interested in. If the manager asked me now, yes, there are players who I think we should go for. United fans would expect coaches at this club to be able to say at any given moment if such and such happens have we got options. The manager expects that and we have those options ready. United endured something of a tortuous time when they had the monumental task of replacing Great Dane Peter Schmeichel in 1999. There was brief success with French legend Fabien Barthez and a promising start by Tim Howard. But there were also famous failures like Massimo Taibi, Ricardo, Mark Bosnich and a lesser flop in Roy Carroll. The gap was not bridged until Van der Sar arrived from Fulham for £2m in 2005. CVs and form can be scoured and monitored but parts of the process can be a lottery. Yet Steele has to have all bases covered to give the Reds the best opportunity of making the transition as seamless as possible. You look at the level keepers are playing at and you have to ask can they handle playing at this football club? he said. That is the biggest decision that always has to be made at Manchester United. You can look at a lot of players who have the ability. But it is more than just ability. You have to do the background check to see character. We do that in every position but the goalkeeper position is even more important in that respect. You have to handle pressure. I like to quote expectation as well. There is an expectation level for anyone coming in following Edwin Van der Sar. Whoever comes in will have a hard act to follow whether it be Tomas Kuszczak, Ben Amos or AN Other. We have to assess whether they can handle the expectation level. The goalkeepers already here will know all about that and we know all about them. Outsiders we can only judge from afar. When we come to make a decision as to who takes over from Edwin we have to be confident they understand the role, the job and the expectation level. Whoever it is I will say to them you must keep goal the way you want to keep goal. There is a way we need you to play and we believe you have the tools but you must play your game because you will not follow Edwin Van der Sar. There will always be comparisons. We cannot stop that. Edwin is a very, very good top goalkeeper and has been for a very long time. We won't be buying another 40-year-old I can guarantee you that so anyone coming in won't have Edwin's experience. But whoever gets the job will have to be themselves because you cannot be Edwin Van der Sar. What do you think? Have your say.
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