Van der Sar says Manchester United experience is key
Edwin Van der Sar believes Manchester United have the awareness that separates them from the rest.
The Dutch goalkeeper is confident they can kick on and lift an unprecedented fourth successive title.
United will go back to the top tomorrow if they beat Portsmouth at Old Trafford as Chelsea do not play until Sunday against Arsenal.
Van der Sar, 39, knows what it is like to have that winning mentality.
"Experience definitely helps," he told www.manutd.com. "You've been there before - through narrow escapes and must-win games. You know how to handle them.
"The more you go through these situations the better you are at dealing with them.
"There's a moment in your career where it clicks and you think, 'I"ve been in this situation before, I know what to do, I know what to expect'. That comes in handy sometimes."
Van der Sar has made 203 appearances for United since arriving from Fulham at the age of 34.
It is no coincidence that since he returned in January from injury - and his wife's illness - the team have improved.
Injuries and suspensions to defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic meant manager Sir Alex Ferguson was forced to make changes - not that Van der Sar is that concerned with the disruption.
He said: "In general, we tend to coach the same way and to play in the same system. But every player has their own characteristics.
"You have to understand the qualities and the character of your team-mates. Sometimes one defender is quicker than another, or one is better at heading the ball.
"Whoever comes into the defence brings their own personality and style with them. As a goalkeeper you try to make sure everything glues together and you work well."
Ferguson may again opt to pair Wes Brown and Jonny Evans in central defence following the victory against Arsenal.
Ferdinand remains absent through suspension while Vidic has a nerve problem in the right side of his leg and could miss his seventh match in a row.
Meanwhile Owen Hargreaves has been left out of United's Champions League squad.
The move almost certainly ends any hope the midfielder had of forcing his way into Fabio Capello's World Cup squad and raises fresh doubts over his chances of making a full recovery from double knee surgery in October 2008.
UEFA have confirmed the former Bayern Munich star is not among the men United will rely on in their quest to reach a third successive final.
Latest in Sport
- 1 All Blacks Aaron Cruden misses New Zealand flight after drinking session, has brilliant excuse
- 2 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': TV reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 Alicia Keys leaks nude photo 'to create a kinder and more peaceful world'
- 5 Clothes store Joy angers mental health campaigners with Twitter exchange on bipolar disorders
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God