Edwin van Der Sar has said that he wants to retire at the top of his game and that is the major reason for his recent retirement announcement. “We are trying to persuade him to stay on, too,” Wayne Rooney said after the beginning of what promises to be a concerted campaign from the Old Trafford crowd.

“I was speaking to him in the shower about it. It’s his decision and we’ve got to respect that but he’s such a great goalkeeper and, for me, still the best in the world, despite his age.”

The supporters articulated it with long, impassioned chants of “one more year”. There were follow-up cries of “Fergie, sign him up” and one wonderful moment, during a break in play in the second half, when the stadium rose to acclaim the man whose flawless goalkeeping had put United on their way towards an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City. Van der Sar looked around him, lifted his hands above his head and nodded appreciatively. He looked genuinely moved.

Yet Van der Sar is also at a point of his life where he seems totally comfortable in his own skin. “I don’t hate the idea of retirement,” he said. “I am looking forward to it. I am at my peak and I think it will be nice to finish at my peak.”