Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Edwin van der Sar has agreed a new one-year contract which will see him remain at Manchester United for another season.
The veteran goalkeeper, 38, arrived at Old Trafford from Fulham in 2005 and has been a key figure in United's back to back Premier League titles and last season's UEFA Champions League victory. Ben Foster and Tomasz Kuszczak are currently Van der Sar's back-up goalkeepers and Ferguson will decide which one will be his number two during the close season.
And while the United manager feels next season will be van der Sar's last, he is confident the Dutchman's level of performance won't drop.
"His experience, his temperament, his professionalism and his performance level has not changed one bit," United manager Ferguson told a news conference here Friday. "It will be his last year and he'll be going on 40 by the time it's finished which is a great credit to the lad."
Ferguson also praised Van der Sar's work with his understudies. "What he's done really well for us, this year and last year too, is his development of young goalkeepers. We're using Ben Foster and Tomasz Kuszczak quite a bit now and that allows us to freshen up Edwin for the other really important games.
"Edwin has bought into it very well and he understands exactly the reasoning and he's playing a big part in making sure that the big picture is there for us for Ben or Tomas. I think next season, in fairness to Ben and Tomas, we're going to make it more competitive and it will be 'who is the best man for the job?'"
Ferguson will make late decisions on Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Carrick, Rio Ferdinand and Dimitar Berbatov ahead of Saturday's Premier League match away to Tottenham Hotspur. Ronaldo is expected to return from a hip problem and Carrick is also likely to figure after missing Wednesday's 2-2 Champions League draw with Aalborg due to a thigh problem.
But Ferdinand is struggling with a back injury and Berbatov is doubtful for the game against his former club due to an Achilles problem. Ferguson who is also missing Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra through suspension is considering playing Ronaldo through the middle alongside Carlos Tevez if Berbatov does not make it.
The Scot, who refused to comment on the possibility of Rooney getting a Champions League ban from European governing body UEFA after the England striker appeared to trample on the chest of Aalborg midfielder Kasper Risgard, said: "I think it's a strong squad."
And Ferguson added he had no qualms about Jonny Evans coming in for Ferdinand at the heart of United's defence. "Evans will replace Ferdinand if Rio doesn't make it and I'm very comfortable with that. The boy has made a massive improvement as a player of 20. As a centre-half, to show the reading of the game he has, the temperament is outstanding.
"If Berbatov's not fit, we have the option of playing Cristiano through the middle, and that's a big option, but it depends on the fitness of the two of them."
Tottenham are now three points above the relegation zone, having seemed certainties for the drop until veteran English boss Harry Redknapp replaced Juande Ramos, now at Real Madrid, as manager in October.
"They've done exceptionally well since Harry has gone there," said an admiring Ferguson. "His management style is just common sense. I heard his comment about making the training ground a happy place. He's brought the confidence back to the players on the training ground and I believe that transmits itself to the Saturday.
"The games that we've had (with Tottenham) there are usually quite a few goals and the goalscoring records at White Hart Lane are far better than they are at Old Trafford."