Speaking at the Web Summit yesterday, Van Der Sar said of his fellow Dutchman: “He came in last year after a difficult period, he’s playing some young players now and he wasn’t so lucky with the players he had in his first year, like (Angel) Di Maria. The way he likes to play - in 1991 when he became manager of Ajax, that first year was difficult. The league was difficult, we were fourth, but we won the UEFA Cup the next year. With the results he’s had with Ajax, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, he can bring United back to the success we had with the club in the past.
He has a lot of new players, the backbone of Vidic, Ferdinand and so on is gone, and now Smalling, Jones and the rest are coming through.”
Van Der Sar says managers in the Premier League need the “balls” to start young players. “When I was 18 I never expected to be what I was - you hope to make your debut, to play for the national team, and I want to achieve something similar off the pitch to what I did on the pitch.
“Ajax always bring through young players from their academy - we can’t pay €20m for a player so we make sure we develop those players and give them the opportunity to play. A manager has to have balls to play young players in England because in the Premier League that’s where players learn. Last year Ajax had three 18 year olds come into the team and then they made the national team.
“Stakes are so high for managers, Villa sacked their manager a few days ago but he saved them last year. It’s hard to put your faith in youngsters but Ajax have always done that.
“Later those players want to move to a bigger club, I did so myself and now players are more in a rush to move to bigger clubs. I can’t blame them as long as they bring us success while they’re with us. The Dutch league isn’t rich - Ajax get €8.5m TV money but the 20th team in the Premier League gets more in TV money than our total budget.”
Van Der Sar also addressed Holland’s international travails: “What’s gone wrong is we welcomed a lot of clubs to see your youth system and we lost ourselves a little. We’re playing a bit too much to our keeper and overdid that a little, holding possession instead of going for a through ball. The mentality in Germany, Spain - even Iceland, with only 300,00 people - is different. For our young players that’s a fantastic lesson.”