Van der Sar targets another double
© AFP

Edwin van der Sar has warned Manchester United's rivals that his side can mount a successful defence of their Premier League and UEFA Champions League titles.

United go into the new campaign under a cloud after Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo were ruled out through illness and injury respectively. Sir Alex Ferguson has spent much of the close-season fuming over Ronaldo's attempts to engineer a move to Real Madrid, and the United boss has been unable to land any major new signings.

And with Chelsea and Liverpool improving their squads, United face a major fight to retain either of the trophies they won last season. But Dutch goalkeeper Van der Sar sent a defiant message to United's rivals when asked if they could land a trophy double again.

"I don't see why not. The core of the team is still the same. Of course, we had a little thing with (Cristiano) Ronaldo this summer but we have a good squad of players," Van der Sar said.

"During the season we are bound to suffer setbacks, every team does. There will be injuries, loss of form, red cards and clearly we need luck at crucial times as well. But hopefully we will end up in the right place."

Same four
Van der Sar expects Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal to be United's only challengers and the former Juventus star knows the race is likely to go down to the wire again. "It will be the same four again," he said. It is almost too tight to split them and results over the last few years confirm that.

"In the last three or four years it has been Chelsea and Manchester United going for the title. But Liverpool won the Champions League then lost the final a couple of years later. Arsenal have been in it as well. You can see from our results in Europe how much quality there is in the Premier League, so I expect us all to be quite close to each other."

After such a successful spell at Old Trafford, Van der Sar could be forgiven for wishing he had moved to United when he had the chance before he joining Juventus. But the veteran, who has no regrets about his decision, is just glad to be at United now.

"A lot of people say that I should have gone to United instead but I had already had two meetings with Juventus before United came in," he said. "It was not like I was talking to Palermo or Fiorentina. They were two great clubs on the same level and you cannot make choices with the benefit of hindsight."