EDWIN van der Sar knows he cannot afford a repeat of last season's blunders if he is to preserve his status as Manchester United's No.1.
Van der Sar, 36, knows that boss Sir Alex Ferguson will not hesitate to axe him in favour of stand-in Tomasz Kuszczak if there are any further signs of the Dutchman's increasing vulnerability.
After an excellent reign with Manchester United following his £2 million ($6m) move from Fulham, the veteran Dutchman blotted his copybook last season against Portsmouth and Roma, mistakes that were blamed on the broken nose he suffered at Tottenham a month earlier.
Van der Sar was again at fault for Hideki Uchidate's opener on Tuesday when he was completely deceived by the flight of the ball as Urawa Red Diamonds took a surprise lead in the 2-2 draw with United in Saitama.
The microscope is on Van der Sar a little more than he would wish at such an early stage of the campaign and questions are now being asked of the former Fulham star, virtually for the first time since he joined United two years ago.
'Yes, I was disappointed with some of my performances at the end of last season,' said Van der Sar.
'There wasn't the same consistency I'd had during most of the season. I don't know why.
'It is difficult to be 100 per cent over the whole year but there were a couple of things not to my satisfaction.
'You have to analyse what happened and think about it - but then you have to get on with it.'
However, at 36, the former Ajax Champions League winner is not about to start panicking about his form.
While Van der Sar admits some of his performances at the back end of last season were not up to his usual high standard, he remains unflustered, knowing the training methods which have established him as one of the world's top goalkeepers are worth retaining.
'It is a mistake if you work harder to make up for errors,' he said.
'You have to stick to your routines. I didn't have the same consistency at the end of the season as I had in the previous part of the season. I don't know why.
With Ben Foster sidelined with a long-term knee injury, Kuszczak will once again provide the stiffest competition for Van der Sar in the battle to be United No. 1.
Having extended his international career to the end of Euro 2008, Holland's most-capped player is yet to decide if he will carry on beyond next summer's Finals.
His United contract expires at the end of the season and talks about an extension are yet to open.
Although the uncertainty is not ideal, Van der Sar accepts it comes with the territory once you reach the veteran stage.
'I don't know what is going to happen at the end of the season. I am at a certain stage in my life when you just take it step-by-step,' he said.
'When you reach my age, you have to take it like that both in terms of the club and the player. You must always try to keep the pleasure in your game.
'When you don't have that 100 per cent desire any more, you can stop or go to a lower level or whatever.'
'If you are 28, you might sign a four- or five-year contract and think it might be your last.
'If you are 21, you might sign a five-year contract for your future. I am not at that age, so I am not worried about the situation.
'I had a good rest in the summer and went on a couple of nice holidays with my family to take my mind off the game.
'But I am enjoying pre-season and have done everything everybody else has done without any niggles or anything. That is the main thing.' - Wire Services. MANCHESTER United goalkeeper Ben Foster is likely to return to action only in March next year.
The 24-year-old highly-rated shot-stopper, who spent last season on loan at Watford, had to undergo knee surgery last month.
This means Tomasz Kuszczak, who spent last term as Edwin van der Sar's understudy, is now virtually certain to remain at Old Trafford rather than go out on loan. - PA Sport.