How much of a ‘mutual agreement’ it was for Nemanja Vidic to leave Manchester United at the end of the season, we may never know. But for Vidic he may not feel he’s really leaving Manchester United. The club that the Serb joined is very different to it’s current incarnation and it’s understandable that sticking around for a rebuilding process, which at 32, he will never get to experience the fruits of his labour, would be unattractive.
One thing that is certain, however, is that Vidic will be playing for Inter Milan next season. In light of this fact, David Moyes feels it would be best for the Premier League champions to start getting used to life without their captain and will attempt to phase the defender out as the campaign comes to a close. The wisdom of Moyes looking so far to the future must be seriously questioned given the precarious nature of the present that he finds himself in.
The strongest argument for continuing to play Vidic is a simple one: he remains Man United’s best centre back. And while the situation is of course more nuanced then this, there is no other single factor that should be given as big a weighting. David Moyes can ill afford more poor results in what has been a tragic opening salvo at Old Trafford. The best way to avoid this is to play your best team. It’s hard to see why it should be more complicated than this.
And yet it is. But even looking at the complexities of the situation only yields further arguments against phasing Vidic out. For one thing, it is wrong to assume that just because United will not qualify for the Champions League this season, means that the remaining games no longer matter. Results matter – always. Alex Ferguson had built a club that knew this and to forget it so quickly would be a disastrous. Mentalities are hard-built, but easily broken, and the idea that it might be okay to lose a couple of more games this campaign if it benefits future development is a very dangerous one to give players.
Along with this internal psychological factor, there is the external factor of how Manchester United are perceived. What happens between now and the end of the season will likely have a huge bearing on who the club can attract in the summer. Memories are short in football and only appear to be getting shorter as the pace of news-cycle increases. Stutter to the end of the campaign and United will go into the summer in much the same negative news spiral that they currently find themselves. Put together a strong finish to the season and it would go along way to changing the current image of the club. The fact that Vidic is leaving only emphasises that United’s ability to attract players this summer may be more important than ever.
Practically speaking, it’s even harder to see the benefits of leaving Vidic out of the team. The reasoning appears to be that it enables the team to work on a defensive partnership that are going to have to deal with the hole left by the Serb’s absence next season. However, if we assume that United are going to buy a replacement for Vidic in the summer – and if all the talk of ‘war chests’ is to believed, this would seem to be a fairly safe assumption to make – then it becomes very difficult the see the logic of leaving the captain out.
Some may find it laughable that Moyes is even thinking so much about next season when it’s far from certain he will even make it to the end of this one. However, even with next season in mind, it seems that the Scot would be better to continue to play Vidic then phase him out.
While Moyes may have been guilty of not changing enough during the summer, it seems like he’s trying to change too much, too quickly now. But then again, maybe this decision was not one that he had any control over. Even if the decision to leave was Vidic’s, David Moyes may be better advised to try and get the most out of his veteran centre back rather than let him fade away.