Sir Alex Ferguson has assured Carling Cup hero Ben Foster he will eventually become Manchester United's No 1. Foster played a man-of-the-match role in ensuring United's bid for an unprecedented quintuple remains on track, making a crucial save to deny Jamie O'Hara in the 4-1 penalty shoot-out triumph over Tottenham at Wembley. Yet the 25-year-old knows he will be dropped for Edwin van der Sar for tomorrow's Premier League trip to Newcastle as the Red Devils look to consolidate their position as odds-on title favourites.
But Ferguson has been quick to assure Foster he is in line to replace the veteran Dutchman. "The future is his," said Ferguson. "The present belongs to Edwin van der Sar, that's obvious. But, given that experience in a final, it strengthens my belief Ben will be England's goalkeeper for the next number of years. "He is a very strong character. He has had to come through two cruciate knee injuries. It takes a tremendous amount of sacrifice to get through that and recover to do what he did today.
"It is difficult to keep them all patient. But there's no other way." Foster is certainly prepared to try anything in the pursuit of success, which is why he spent the precious minutes between the end of extra-time and the penalty shoot-out staring at an iPod with goalkeeping coach Eric Steele to work out what techniques the Spurs players were likely to use. "We have done a lot of research into the way each player is going to put their penalty," he said.
"We went into the shoot-out as well prepared as possible. "We have had things to look at over the last couple of days and before the shoot-out, you can see me looking at an iPod with Eric Steele. "It had actual video on it and showed where players put things." Spurs did not practise penalties before the final, and their manager Harry Redknapp admitted: "We were not that confident with our penalty takers really and you looked over there and they had very confident penalty takers."
O'Hara's effort was well struck but Foster dived to his left and parried. "He's got a great left foot and was the first to volunteer for one," Redknapp said. "He left here in tears last year. He feels for the club. I've been impressed with him as a player and a person." Anderson tucked away the winning penalty for United, with Spurs' hopes virtually ended when David Bentley fired wide. "It was a poor penalty for a player who can strike a ball as well as he can," Redknapp said. "He's a great striker, but that's one of those things. He had the bottle to take it but unfortunately didn't score."
* PA Sport