Date: 21st June 2011 at 2:38am
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The retirement of Edwin Van Der Sar has left Manchester United on the lookout for a recognised number 1.

Sir Alex Ferguson hadn’t had much luck with picking goalkeepers after the departure of the great Peter Schmeichael, until he signed Van Der Sar from Fulham in 2005.

Who can forget the likes of Massimo Taibi, Mark Bonsnich, Fabien Barthez and Tim Howard; all prone to the odd mistakes that could cost United a game.

Taibi had a shocking game away to Chelsea and then allowed a weak shot from Matt Le Tissier to slip through his grasp to give Southampton a point.

Barthez’s catalogue was just as laughable; 2 farcical goals at Highbury against Arsenal in a 3-1 defeat, his antics in the FA Cup defeat to West Ham at Old Trafford where he tried to outwit Paulo Di Canio by appealing for an offside decision which never came thus leaving Di Canio to roll the ball into the net and Barthez looking very embarrassed.

The 2 main players that have been linked with the number 1 shirt are David De Gea and Maartan Stekelenburg and although Tomasz Kuszczack may have something to say about it, it is unlikely that he is in the running.

Kuszczak has found himself as our number 2 for the majority of his career here and although a good shot stopper does not inspire confidence with the ball at his feet, looking especially uncertain in United’s last away league game to Blackburn Rovers.

De Gea may lack experience with him being only 20 years old but he doesn’t lack confidence and quality, in 84 appearances for Athletico Madrid he has kept 24 clean sheets.

Stekelenburg has the more experience being 28 but is still relatively young for a goalkeeper. He has made 282 appearances for Ajax and has 40 international caps for the Netherlands including the experience of playing in a World Cup final.

Whoever steps in to make the number 1 jersey their own will definitely have massive boots to fill. Van Der Sar’s list of honours are as long as they are glorious, holding the world league clean sheet record in 2008-2009, going 1311 minutes without conceding a goal. He was also voted best European goalkeeper in 1995, 2008, 2009 and 2010 and UEFA club goalkeeper in 1995 and 2009.

De Gea is being mooted as the person to step in but nothing has been confirmed as yet, he himself said he will make no decision until the European u21 championship is over. Diego Forlan has stated he has what it takes to succeed at Old Trafford whilst Stekelenburg was reportedly picked as successor by van der Sar himself.

The position will not be an easy one to fill as the pressure of playing at the biggest club in the world can cripple rather than bring out the best as we’ve seen before but both come with glowing recommendations and reputations so if they want to be deemed a success must stand up to the test their appointment will present.

Piece courtesy of Chris Wormald