Global coronavirus pandemic could deprive United’s bitter United rival Liverpool of first English Premier League title if season cannot be played to an end, despite 25-point lead over opponents closest to Manchester City.
On Monday, the British government brought some clarity, by publishing a 50-page guidance document detailing how England hopes to loosen the foreclosure measures.
Regarding the resumption of professional sport, the British government document confirmed that nothing can happen, even behind closed doors, in England until June 1 at the earliest. There are still 92 games to play in the EPL.
“The Premier League is a well-managed league and there are of course big financial and commercial interests,” he said. “But I’m sure they will make a wise decision if they continue to play or if the league ends, what will be the results depending on the places in the Champions League, relegation or the award of a title in Liverpool.
“If the league does not resume, I guess everyone will be fine if Liverpool wins the title.”
However, Neville’s opinion may be that of many football fans, rather than Van der Sar’s position, which some might consider as improbable as looking out the window and seeing cats chasing dogs on the street. .
United in his belief
Van der Sar represented United with distinction from 2005 to 2011, winning four Premier League and Champions League titles, and can’t help but observe the recent progress the Red Devils had made under another former United star before football suddenly stops in March. .
Current United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær made management ridiculously easy when he took over from Jose Mourinho in the Old Trafford dugout in late 2018.
The Norwegian won 10 of his first 11 games as a goalkeeper manager and then won 14 of 19 games – including a memorable Champions League victory against Paris Saint-Germain – before being named permanently in March 2019.
For the rest of the year, league wins were more difficult to achieve, but in 2020 there was a slight increase in form, with United placing fifth in the standings with four wins in five league matches in as part of an unbeaten 11-game run.
“The honeymoon was great,” recalls Van der Sar of the time spent by Solskjær.
“Then they hit a rock patch and I think the last seven, eight, nine weeks they have played better football. The points were coming in. They also had good results against good teams.”
“Of course, for them, I hope the league will resume because they will probably need these places in the Champions League. I think the main thing for them is to focus on next season and hopefully, with a couple of additions, they ‘I’ll be competitive again for Liverpool and Manchester City.’
But what will it take for the club – which won 13 Premier League titles – before being robbed of success after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 – to start winning again?
“Consistency, a winning mentality”, says Van der Sar, who hopes “maybe they can solve what will happen with Paul” [Pogba]will he stay?
“I’m sure that with De Gea, with Maguire, with Fernandes, with Rashford, with Martial, they have a good line, I think, in the middle. And on top of that, there are also a lot of young players who are playing as always at United, so I’m positive for them next season. “
Although this seems more in line with the role required to run the Old Trafford club from the boardroom – a position the great Dutchman previously ruled out – Van der Sar is more focused on his current job in Ajax, the club he returned as CEO in 2016.
Dutchman Eredivisie recently decided to end the season without crowning a champion for the first time in 64 years of history. With nine games to play, Ajax topped the standings, although AZ Alkmaar’s goal difference, but would have been considered a favorite to win an astounding 35th and sixth league title in the past 10 years.
Van der Sar notes that players and supporters are “disappointed”, but “we know health is important and there is no way to end the league.”
Always realistic, Van der Sar realizes that even with the return of the Bundesliga to Germany on May 16 – a scenario that the Premier League would have liked to reproduce – this has a pale meaning in relation to the priorities of a country.
“How do you test players if hospital staff or bus drivers or teachers don’t have these tests?” he’s asking himself.
“So it will be more like an ethical issue.”
“Five seconds too long”
Van der Sar, 49, has the same flawless approach as when organizing his defenders.
Weighing in on the impending transfer window, he says “it will be difficult for the first club to sign a player for a substantial sum of money” and admits that Ajax cannot rely solely on television revenues, adding “At most, our income comes from supporters, companies, corporate lodges … we therefore rely heavily on filling a stadium.”
But the elimination of European giants from Real Madrid and the former Juventus club, along with a certain Cristiano Ronaldo, showed the world that Ajax was indeed able to continue its efforts to sit at the table. of European football.
Rather poignant, the break with modern football gave the legendary goalkeeper the opportunity to watch, for the first time, the historic Champions League triumph of 1995 that Ajax experienced, beating AC Milan 1 -0.
This team was filled with wonderful Dutch masters such as Frank Rijkaard and Frank de Boer, midfielders Edgar Davids and Clarence Seedorf, not to mention the striker who came off the bench to score the winning goal, Patrick Kluivert.
“As a youngster, you want to play football, you want to become a professional, then you want to come as a national team,” recalls Van der Sar. “And of course winning a Champions League or a World Cup or a European Championship is the highest you can reach. And that’s how amazing it is.”
A possible return to the field for Ajax and the rest of the teams in the world will surely feel just as incredible in its own way.