So the cat is finally out of the bag. After a week of speculation, Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Nemanja Vidic is the man to replace Gary Neville as the on-field captain of England’s most popular club.
It marks an amazing turnaround for the big Serbian. After all, it is only four and a half seasons since he signed for United and was immediately written off as an overpriced flop. I vividly remember reading a story from Vidic when he admitted that upon arriving in Manchester his performances were so poor – even in training – that he began to doubt his ability at to play at Old Trafford.
His turnaround has been nothing short of miraculous. Back in the 2005/06 season, he was behind both Wes Brown and Mikael Silvestre in queue for a place in United’s defence. Now he is arguably the first name on the team-sheet for United. Indeed even Ferguson, not known for letting his players know they are in the ‘comfort zone’ when it comes to team selection, admitted that ‘you don’t leave him out of the team’. His heading is phenomenal, his tackling ferocious, while his commitment is absolutely unquestionable.
Even considering the lack of pace that has seen him exposed on occasion (most notably by Fernando Torres), Vidic is undoubtedly one of Europe’s premier central defenders, and will be crucial to United if they are to wrestle back either the Premiership or Champions League from Chelsea and Inter Milan respectively.
So could Vidic prove to be an example to follow for a potential United star of the future? Bebé arrived at United this summer for a fee similar to Vidic’s, and like the big Serbian, his initial impression has not been universally acclaimed. While his United reserves debut against Aston Villa showed promise and talent, a question mark will naturally remain over an unknown player who has cost such a large sum of money until he makes strides into the first team.
If Bebé is to silence the critics, and particularly the Daily Mail, who seem intent on crushing his confidence before he has even set foot on the hallowed Old Trafford turf, he has no better example to follow than Vidic. Just because he hasn’t necessarily set the world alight on day one, it doesn’t mean he can’t leave a lasting impression. For proof of that, the young Portuguese need only look at Vidic’s arm from now until the end of the season.
Written By Gareth Roberts