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Last Updated: Monday, 6 June, 2005, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
Can Edwin end Man Utd's keeper curse?
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

Edwin van der Sar come on down - the latest in line to try to succeed the great Peter Schmeichel and finally give Manchester United a reliable last line of defence.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson's deal for Fulham's 35-year-old Holland international is the culmination of a transfer pursuit that started six years ago when Schmeichel quit Old Trafford after the 1999 Champions League triumph.

He lost out to Juventus - and it is a sign of his failure to replace the great Dane that he has now been forced to return to his original target in a bid to solve United's most pressing problem.

Van der Sar has Premiership and European experience but is reaching the end of his career and the pressure is on him to prove he can finally answer Ferguson's demand for goalkeeping reliability.

But can he do any better than those that have tried and failed before him?

MARK BOSNICH - FREE TRANSFER FROM ASTON VILLA JUNE 1999

Ferguson broke a golden rule when he took Bosnich from Aston Villa only a month after Schmeichel's retirement - he gave a player who snubbed him a second chance.

Alan Shearer was the other man afforded this privilege and Bosnich came back after once buying his way out of an Old Trafford contract before resurfacing at Villa.

Mark Bosnich
Bosnich wasted his second chance under Ferguson

But the relationship between Ferguson and Bosnich was uneasy, with the manager never truly convinced about his attitude, while the goalkeeper's form was patchy.

Bosnich's future was being questioned within weeks.

Eventually given a free transfer in January 2001, his career went into freefall and he was sacked by Chelsea and banned from the game for nine months after failing a drugs test.

MASSIMO TAIBI - 4.5M FROM VENEZIA AUGUST 1999

How do you make a Venetian blind? Stick him in goal for Manchester United.

So the joke went about this calamitous black mark of Ferguson's transfer record.

A mysterious signing at the time - and one that became even more mysterious when you actually saw the Italian in action.

Played in a win at Liverpool on his debut but blundered horribly to let in a 30-yarder from Matt Le Tissier during a 3-3 draw at Old Trafford soon afterwards.

Finished off his United career in a 5-0 defeat at Chelsea. Soon packed back to Italy.

FABIEN BARTHEZ - 7.8M FROM MARSEILLE JUNE 2000

Barthez came closest to breaking the Schmeichel spell. Brilliant for France during the World Cup win in 1998 and then in victory during Euro 2000, he was regarded as a stunning signing.

He was outstanding at United for long periods but expensive errors, especially in big games, cost him dearly.

The low point was a Champions League defeat against Deportivo La Coruna at Old Trafford. He blundered with Wes Brown to gift Sergio a goal, then charged from his area to intercept a ball Brown had covered for Diego Tristan's winner.

ANDY GORAM - LOAN FROM MOTHERWELL MAY 2001

Blink-and-you-miss-it Manchester United career for the 36-year-old former Rangers old-timer.

Andy Goram
Goram was a mysterious signing

Once a truly outstanding keeper but not when he got to United - almost unfair of Ferguson to plunge him into the Premiership.

Let's be charitable and say Goram had lost a little of his mobility by the time he reached Old Trafford.

A forgettable interlude for all involved.

ROY CARROLL - 2.5M FROM WIGAN JULY 2001

Carroll arrived as understudy to Barthez but was soon thrust into action as a result of the French goalkeeper's eccentricities.

Never convincing as a number one and will be remembered for blunders such as the goal he gifted to AC Milan in the Champions League and "the goal that never was" - struck from the halfway line by Tottenham's Pedro Mendes.

RICARDO - 1.5M FROM VALLODOLID

Not in the Taibi black museum but one of Ferguson's more pointless signings. Five-game flop, who never once threatened to become a regular.

TIM HOWARD - 2.3M FROM METROSTARS JULY 2003

Gave the early impression of finally answering Manchester United's goalkeeping dilemma but soon ran short of form and confidence and has never fully recovered.

He suffered after a mistake that gifted Porto a two-leg win against United in the Champions League in 2004.




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