Edwin van der Sar’s penalty heroics in Moscow to ensure a Premier League and Champions League double may have represented the perfect final act in the career of some 37-year-old goalkeepers. Not a bit of it for United’s giant Dutchman; he’s as driven as ever after an unforgettable 2007/08 season…
So, let’s start at the beginning: United, strange as it seems now, only took two points from the first nine in the league…
Despite playing well, we just couldn’t score goals to take the points. Then we went on a run of 1-0 wins that were important for us. And once the goals came, we had four matches where we scored four goals in each game – we played some great football in that period. After that we played some good, winning football – sometimes at our best, occasionally not. At this club we’re always disappointed when we don’t win, but we can still be pleased with the football we played.
Did you feel more pressure playing as champions?
There’s always pressure here to win every game, so there’s no difference. As players we are always focused on winning and the opposition always gives something extra because it’s Manchester United – that’s no different if we’re champions. We’re prepared for the teams we play to give their all.
In terms of your own performances, which game did you most enjoy?
I’d probably say Sporting Lisbon away. That game was almost perfect for me. The preparation, the coaching before the game, the saves I made, the way I played with the defence – it all felt right. We were under pressure for periods of that game, and I made some saves that turned out to be important because we won the game 1-0. And that was part of an important run of wins for us.
Which opposing team would you say gave you the toughest game?
We lost a few times so you can see that those were tough matches, but the away game at Reading was as tough as any of them. That was one of our hardest games, no question. We had to work so hard and run so much. We won 2-0 in the end, but the second goal came really late. Reading made it really difficult for us that day. The 1-1 at Tottenham was a hard game too, where Tevez scored an injury-time goal to save us also. Those two games were as hard as any we played all season.
Did any opposition player really stand out?
Of course: [Lionel] Messi. We