Scholes: Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra concerned the dressing room at the start

The Manchester Evening News report that Paul Scholes and his team mates were all concerned when Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra made shaky starts to their careers in Manchester. In a revealing article, Scholes talks about the initial concern when the two defenders arrived in January 2006 and followed that up with a strong of poor performances as adjusting to life in the Premier League proved difficult.

Not only that, but Scholes revealed that both Evra and Vidic were both diminutive in stature, and some distance away from the brick outhouses they left as. Of course, the pessimism turned out to be unfounded, as the pair became Vice-Captain and Captain respectively, and furthermore secured their names as ‘Legends’ at Old Trafford.


“To say the dressing room at United was concerned about the suitability of Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic when they arrived would be an understatement.

“My abiding memory is of City targeting Patrice. I don’t blame them, we would have done the same. They struck long diagonals out to our left and every time Trevor Sinclair would attack the ball, smash Patrice out-of-the-way and City would be in behind us.”

And the game against  City sticks out to me too. He was that bad. I’m sure I wasnt the only one thinking we’d signed a complete donkey. I’ve never been more relieved to be wrong.

“It might surprise you to hear that Nemanja, who arrived from Spartak Moscow, was not the powerful centre-back he became over his years with the club.

“For the next year, every time I walked past the gym, I would see Nemanja in there lifting weights. He turned himself into a big, strong centre-half who was capable of knocking strikers out-of-the-way.”

This surprised me. It took Vidic almost a month to make his first start for United in the League. I saw him against Fulham in his early days and was impressed, he appeared to be quite a bruising player, up for the challenge. But to see he wasn’t and was bullied shocked me. But he is a beacon for hard work and what you can achieve if you’re willing to work.

To read that two of the best players in the last 10 years – if not ever – started out by making their team mates doubt the managers judgement is surprising. Each went on the star in the three UEFA Champions League finals United played in four years, they lifted 15 trophies each and made nearly 500 appearances combined. Vidic became a brick wall at Centre-Half and by the time he left was considered one of the most fearsome in the World. Evra built a reputation on attacking quality and defensive solidarity. It’s certain that no one doubts Sir Alex Ferguson’s judgement now.

Retrospect is a wonderful thing, and this story underlines the importance of allowing players the time to settle into a new league and new surroundings. It can be used as a campaign by those in support of Radamel Falcao, and a sign that – although he has disappointed so far – that his best is yet to come as the Colombian adjusts to his new surroundings.

The struggles we have had in defence since the decline of Vidic physically and the crisis of confidence Patrice Evra had (not publicly, but the difference before he was racially abused and after was there to be seen by all) show just how important they became for us. It’s not often said about defenders, but we were very lucky to see them play. Legends doesn’t quite cut it.


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