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Strong characters have all disappeared from Man Utd - Van der Sar

The Red Devils great believes the club has fallen considerably since his departure and are missing figures who can stand up in the dressing room

Edwin van der Sar has suggested strong characters have all disappeared from Manchester United as the club fails to reach its former heights.

The Red Devils have made their worst-ever start to a Premier League campaign this season with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer quickly coming under scrutiny. 

The current state of affairs at Old Trafford marks a stark contrast to how Van der Sar left the club, with the former Netherlands goalkeeper noting a real lack of strong characters. 

"I think for ourselves, when I came in the dressing room we had Ryan Giggs, you had [Paul] Scholes, you had [Rio] Ferdinand, [Gary] Neville and even Roy Keane at that time," Van der Sar told ESPN FC .  

"So I think there's always been strong characters. And I think for the last couple of years the strong characters have disappeared and not making a difference anymore.

"I left there eight years ago and it was a tremendous last six years of my career, winning four Premier League titles and playing in three Champions League finals.

"So it's a long way from the position where they are in now. And of course they have changed managers a couple times now and the real progress is not seen yet, only the thing that they bought in the summer. They bought younger, inexperienced players with a certain desire and hunger, and not like the big names they bought the last six, seven years." 

While still capable of attracting talented players, Van der Sar admits the club's lack of recent success may make signings in the future increasingly difficult. 

"Of course, the name is there. And of course the following they have all over the world," he said.

"But for a player ... you want to play at a certain level, you also want to have an idea that you can win trophies and they must take that opportunity also to improve the squad and make the world-class players they have, or the players that they're going to sign, that they feel welcome and that there's a good path to where they're going to go to."

Manchester United currently sit 12th in the Premier League after a recent 1-0 loss to Newcastle and boast just two wins from their first eight league games. 

That form has seen increasing pressure placed on Solskjaer, who has in turn pleaded for time to make a real difference at Old Trafford. 

"At Molde and Cardiff I had tough times. I’ve been at that bottom end of the table. It’s not a nice feeling," he said. 

"If you get time to do what you are setting out to do, it’ll be fine. This is a period now with some fine lines going against us, but we’ll get there."

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