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Edwin Van Der Sar talks up CEO role at Manchester United

by Shane Healy

On Sunday, Manchester United fans disrupted arguably the biggest game in sport. The historic match between United and Liverpool was eventually postponed after Sky Sports covered the fan protests well beyond the scheduled kick-off time.

Gary Neville spoke passionately about how significant changes needed to be implemented after the fans had emphatically made their point.

And fellow ex-Red, Edwin Van Der Sar, put himself forward for consideration as a replacement for the outgoing United executive vice chairman, Ed Woodward, whose record in the role since taking over from David Gill in 2013 has been mediocre at best.

Speaking to ESPN Netherlands, the former goalkeeper who won the Champion’s League with United in 2008, said that besides Ajax, the only other club that he would work for in world football was the Red Devils.

Van Der Sar oversaw the development of a fantastic Ajax side who reached the Champions League semi-final in 2019 and featured the club’s own youth talents such as Donny Van De Beek, Matthijs De Ligt and Frenkie de Jong. He spoke of that achievement saying, ‘We had to work really hard. We don’t have a rich owner and the government didn’t help us.’

United, of course, have a similarly rich history of bringing young talent through the academy and into the first team, but also have the commercial strength to perhaps retain much of its first team squad for the long-term.

Van Der Sar also stated that he would have to have ‘a feeling’ for the club and that with United, he would have that feeling.

Following Sunday’s achievement and the failure of the ESL plan, fans around the world will be campaigning and hoping for the FA, Premier League and government to implement real change that re-evaluates football club ownership under the ‘fit and proper’ status with the potential for a fan ownership model. But if that fails to happen, the next best thing for United might be to bring in more experienced football people, like Van Der Sar, who have a progressive footballing vision for the club.

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