Schmeichel details chat with Sir Alex Ferguson about "perfect" Man Utd successor

Peter Schmeichel has recalled a conversation with Sir Alex Ferguson in which he recommended his Manchester United manager buy Edwin van der Sar in 1999 – a whole six years before the Dutchman eventually moved to Old Trafford.

Red Devils legend Schmeichel left United for Sporting after winning a host of silverware – including the renowned treble of 1999 – and he was replaced by Mark Bosnich from Aston Villa.

However, Ferguson was unconvinced by the Australian ‘keeper and bought Fabian Barthez from Monaco for £7.8m one year later. The Frenchman lasted three seasons before losing his place to Tim Howard, and Van der Sar was eventually signed from Fulham in 2005.

The Dutch stopper brought stability and solidity to the United defence after a period in which Ferguson used a total of 10 different goalkeepers.

Van der Sar certainly lived up to Schmeichel’s recommendation – which the latter outlined during a Q&A last year.

When asked if he advised Ferguson on his replacement before he left United, the Dane responded: “I did. Thought Edwin would be perfect but he signed for Juventus.”

After a mixed spell in Turin, Van der Sar moved to Fulham in 2001 and his excellent performances were eventually rewarded with a move to Old Trafford in 2005.

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Van der Sar spent six years with the Red Devils, winning four Premier League titles and the Champions League, and Ferguson himself spoke of wanting him earlier in his career.

“I tried to replace Schmeichel, but that was very difficult,” the Scotsman said in 2007. “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 £2million, so he’s right up there with my best signings.”

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