Has Sir Alex Ferguson got genuine cause for concern?

Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson

Praising your squad players for being able to step up to the plate is not the usual way to deal with a proposed problem in football and it’s not going to be the solution should Sir Alex Ferguson’s latest worry come to fruition. The Manchester United manager has admitted he’s afraid of losing Nemanja Vidic at the end of the season and, with the flagging form of Rio Ferdinand and the difference in class between Vidic and United’s backup defenders Jonny Evans, John O’Shea and West Brown, this is a major worry for the United chief – after all, Vidic is one of the best central defenders in the game. In theory United don’t have to sell Vidic as he has another 2 years left on his contract after this season, but Ferguson has already shown that he will readily sell key players who want to leave as he did with Cristiano Ronaldo and Vidic’s future is far from secure at Old Trafford with the big Serbian admitting he doesn’t know where his future will lie, With Barcelona, Real Madrid and AC Milan all thought to be interested in Vidic Ferguson could have a fight on his hands to keep the defender interested in remaining at the club which would be a severe blow to his team.

A question that’s there to be asked is that if Vidic was to leave the team, how would Ferguson go about replacing him? The defender would command a fee of around £30 million due to his stature in the game and having time left on his contract but would Ferguson actually bring in a replacement this time? His refusal to purchase a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo shocked many and has been a mistake to date as nobody has stepped up to the plate for United to fill the gap left by Ronaldo – surely Ferguson won’t make the same mistake with Vidic and just expect Evans to step up, particularly not when Ferdinand’s Old Trafford career could be reaching its conclusion due to his poor form. But who’s good enough to replace the Serbian stopper if he does go? United are being linked with a move for Everton teenager Jack Rodwell but he’s still just a raw talent and, despite being a natural defender, plays in midfield for Everton and is unproven as a defender in the Premiership. Signing one for the future would definitely not replace a key player.

I for one cannot understand why Ferguson is so ready to allow his star players to leave – yes they may be unhappy but they signed their contracts with the club in the first place and should be forced to honour them if they’re that important to the team. Selling Ronaldo, regardless of how much money it was for, was a bad move for United and an unnecessary one given his remaining years on his Old Trafford contract. Even if Ronaldo had asked to leave Ferguson could’ve forced him to stay and Ronaldo’s ego would’ve prevented him from allowing poor form to get into his game and get him dropped – he would’ve kept playing well to angle for that eventual move. Smaller clubs play hardball over their players, why shouldn’t the bigger clubs too?

United are up there near the top of the Premiership table, just 5 points off Chelsea but the fact remains that their squad is missing magic these days and there are few players at the champions that I would really call World Class currently. Vidic is one of the few and, at 27, has a number of years left at the top level in his game. I can understand Ferguson not wanting his contract to run down but selling a top player should only be a matter of necessity which it isn’t given that there’s still 2 years left on Vidic’s contract. If Ferguson is concerned that Vidic can leave then it’s his own fault for considering the possibility – as the manager of the club he is in charge of the transfers in and out and he could easily refuse to allow the player to leave – within Vidic’s remaining time at the club they could yet find a suitable replacement to make his departure a lot less important.