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Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were like chalk and cheese and it worked well for Manchester United

Manchester United legendary central defender Nemanja Vidic has stated that he could not understand by his former teammate, Rio Ferdinand cried after the club won the UEFA Champions League after beating Chelsea on penalties at the Luzhniki Stadium on the 21 May 2008. United opened the scoring in the match through Cristiano Ronaldo in the 26th minute of the match only for Frank Lampard to equalise in the 45th minute. The second half had chances not nothing to change the score.

United and Chelsea went into extra time, with did not find a winner, needing a penalty shootout to make the different. Ronaldo was the only United player to miss his spot kick with John Terry slipping on the spot to allow United a way back, going into sudden death. Anderson scored United’s sixth penalty with Salomon Kalou scoring Chelsea’s. Next stepped up Ryan Giggs, who scored with Nicholas Anelka seeing his effort saved by Edwin van der Sar – United had won the Champions League again.

Sir Alex Ferguson signed Ferdinand from Leeds United in the summer of 2002 for an initial fee of £29.3 million. The player sat in the office of Peter Ridsdale for six hours to get the deal pushed through. Vidic was signed from Spartak Moscow in January 2006 with Ferguson paying just £7 million for the Serbian defender. Despite the almost three-year gap, the defensive duo literally became the best defensive partnership the club had seen. Ferdinand left for Queens Park Rangers with Vidic leaving for Inter Milan both in the summer of 2014. It was the end of an era.

Those of you that experienced Vidic playing football will remember this rock hard central defender who would literally fear nothing or nobody. On winning the Champions League, he was happy but not emotional like his defensive partner. It showed you how different the pair were – like chalk and cheese but it worked. Speaking to the official Manchester United website as part of the Utd Unscripted series of articles, Vidic, speaking fondly about Ferdinand, despite the tears, said:

“Me and Rio played so many games together, but it’s the most important ones that you remember, like winning the Premier League at Wigan and Blackburn, and definitely the Champions League final against Chelsea in Moscow.

“I had forgotten, actually, until he said recently, but I had to stop Rio crying after we won the trophy! We are different in many ways!

“Rio obviously puts so much hard work into everything he does, and he had this dream to win the Champions League.

“I remember beforehand he just kept saying: ‘We have to win, we have to win, we have to win.’

“It was something he dreamed of and pushed for. When we won it, of course he was emotional. Remember the penalty shootout, that could have gone either way as well… but I have a general feeling like if you won something you should be happy, not crying.

“I just think that way. I never cried when I’m happy. He’s an emotional guy. They were just small tears, nothing major. I’d forgotten about that reaction, but it was just a moment.”

I have many fond memories of Ferdinand and Vidic at the club. They were the reason, most of the time that the club was successful during their careers at the club. Ferdinand won 14 trophies at the club, including six Premier League titles with Vidic winning 15 trophies at the club, including five Premier League titles. Winning the Champions League followed by the FIFA Club World Cup will be the best achievement of the pair though, literally reaching the pinnacle of European and World football at club level right there. Not many English clubs have done that.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United could bring Nemanja Vidic back to the club to coach the U23s this season

Former Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic could return to the club as a coach for the U23s, according to reports which seem to come from Serbia. The Serbian central defender left the club for Inter Milan on the summer of 2014 and retired from the game in January 2016. He is considered as one of the best signings Sir Alex Ferguson ever made.

Whilst playing for United, Vidic won five Premier League titles, three League Cups, five FA Community Shields, one UEFA Champions League and on FIFA Club World Cup, making 300 appearances and scoring 21 goals. He was a rock in the heart of the defence and a player, who five years later, still needs to be replaced.

Serbian journalist Nebojsa Markovic posted on Twitter, information which came from Vidic’s friend and best man, Nenad Lalatovic. The U23s coach, Ricky Sbragia was sacked earlier in the summer and it had been reported that former U21 coach, Warren Joyce could be returning to the club but after a few weeks of that report, nothing seems to have happened. Markovic stated on Twitter, reported by The Mirror:

“He got an offer to coach Manchester United B. I told him that’s perfect for him if he wants to coach, but he hasn’t decided yet.

“I told him, ‘this is an ideal opportunity if you want to do it – to go back to England, you’ll take over tomorrow and Manchester, you have a great name there and I think that’s the right decision for you’.

“But he has not decided yet. I’m supporting him being [a] coach at Manchester United, as then there is a chance for him to take over the first team in the future.”

United will obviously need to get someone into position before the season starts as the U23 players will be starting to return to pre-season training soon in order to get ready for the new season, in which they will be expected to get out of Division 2 in the Premier League 2. Having a former player like Vidic in this role could be beneficial for the young lads coming through the ranks, not only the defenders either. The leadership the Vidic could evoke could be good for the future of the club as a whole.

The 37-year-old is a qualified coach and only last year graduated from the FA’s highest coaching qualification – The FA Level 5 (UEFA Pro) in Coaching Football course. He did this with United’s Academy director, Nicky Butt with many other former professional footballers such as James Beattie, David James, Warren Joyce, and Steven Reid, to name a few.

Back in March 2016, just over a month after announcing his retirement from the game, Vidic spoke to BBC Sport about a number of things, one of those was about becoming a manager. This was obviously before he got his UEFA Pro license but he confirmed that he started his coaching badges in 2012, whilst he was still playing for United. Vidic also spoke about managing United in the future, of which this could be the start of his development. The Serbian said:

“I started doing my badges four years ago. At the time I was playing for Manchester United and working with probably the best manager ever in Sir Alex Ferguson.

“He asked a lot from his players, but he believed in them. If he said something, I could see it in his eyes that he believed it. Even when I might not believe, he did. It was his greatest strength.

“I would like to try to be a manager in English football. It is a dream. If you ask any United player if they want to be manager one day, they will say ‘yes’, but I am a long way from that.”

Hopefully, something will develop on this as the U23s will need a coach to start the season. Allowing a former player, such as Vidic, to cut his teeth at this level would be good to see. As he has been studying for his future in the game, after retiring as a player, since 2012, and the fact that seven years have passed by, it is clear that he could have the knowledge which would need to be paired with experience, and this could be the opportunity for him to do that.

Nemanja Vidic, the last Manchester United captain to lift the Premier League

It has been five years since Manchester United celebrated Premier League glory. The captain that day was Nemanja Vidic, a true combatant of the game and a United legend. Vidic epitomised the very meaning of the word warrior with his courageous last-ditch challenges and fearless blocks in the line of danger. He captained a United side that included Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand and although his English was poor Sir Alex Ferguson entrusted him due to his leadership qualities and exemplary attitude wearing his heart proudly on his sleeve.

“He loved the challenge of sticking his head in there. You could tell that the thrill of contesting those 50-50 balls animated him.”Sir Alex Ferguson

Vidic wasn’t an instant success at Old Trafford. He came to the club as unknown Eastern European centre-half brought in alongside Patrice Evra, signing in January 2006 for a fee of around seven million from Russian side Spartak Moscow. His first season was average as he struggled to cope with the speed of English football, it wasn’t until his second season did the fans begin to see the talent that Sir Alex had acquired.

It goes without saying that as good as Nemanja Vidic was it was his partnership with Rio Ferdinand was the recipe that elevated their game to the next level. They were the perfect combination, Vidic’s no-nonsense defending, and aggressive approach blended perfectly with Ferdinand’s reading of the game and an eye for a pass. For many years at Old Trafford, they were the bedrock of the team, a team that dominated England, winning five Premier League trophies, three League Cups and conquering Europe in 2008.

Vidic would often lead by example, throwing his body on the line as well as burying important headers in big games. He was also rewarded with individual merit for his outstanding performances as he was voted Premier League player of the year twice and picked up the coveted Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award once.

However, it has been four seasons since his departure and a true replacement has yet to emerge. When Nemanja decided to call time on his United career it was always going to be a challenging task to find a player of similar calibre. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones initially signed by Sir Alex looked set to fill the void, but it has been an up and down journey so far with neither truly showing signs of hitting the standards that Vidic set.

Further replacements were signed in the seasons to follow but with little success. Daley Blind never quite looked physically capable for a centre back role and looks set leave Old Trafford this summer. Marcos Rojo, following a brief successful run in the first team, has struggled to nail down a starting role. Eric Bailly, perhaps the most likely to lead the United back line in the future has missed far too many games through injury.

Finally, Victor Lindelof, brought in last summer to sharpen up the back line has again under impressed and found himself in and out of the team. It is no coincidence Mourinho is still in search of a centre-half combination and that search looks set to go on this summer.

It was always going to be a tricky path for whoever followed Vidic’s footsteps, but it has been long enough, and chances have been squandered. Long gone have the days United had their Serbian leader crunching into tackles and intimidating centre-forwards. His era has passed and United are still struggling to piece a defence back together. Now more than ever is the team crying out for a Vidic-like figure to hoist the team to the next level. However, given the evolution of the game we just might not find another centre-half quite the same, a true legend in every sense.

Written by Josh Keifer

Eric Bailly praised by former Manchester United captain

Former Manchester United defender and captain, Nemanja Vidic has praised Eric Bailly, suggesting he could go a long way at the Theatre of Dreams, providing his careers hits the right path, of course. Bailly was signed by Jose Mourinho last summer in a £30 million deal from La Liga side Villarreal. Many wondered why such a large fee had been paid for a relatively unknown player, but as it does most of the time, the players made his critics eat their words after his first few competitive appearances saw him win Man of the Match award twice. Seeing the Serbian leave the club in the summer of 2014 was a sad time for many, especially in that he achieved so much success under Sir Alex Ferguson, being a true bargain back in 2006 when he signed for the club, winning the Premier League five times, a UEFA Champions League and a FIFA Club World Cup, among other things.

The 22-year-old Ivory Coast defender could be a player to achieve what Vidic did at the Old Trafford club, helping his side to two trophies already this season in the FA Community Shield and the EFL Cup. The chance to win a European trophy, albeit the UEFA Europa League will be a good opportunity for Bailly and United, which could see United back in the Champions League next season if they fail to qualify through their final league position in May. Vidic spoke to ESPN, reported by the Mirror about Bailly, how he started at United, his injuries, and his potential, which will be seen as some good praise for the player, giving him something to aim for and some inspiration. Vidic said:

“Eric Bailly started really well with a steady two or three months. 

“Then he was unlucky with injury and the African Cup of Nations.

“He’s aggressive, he has potential, he’s young and he likes to defend. He has the qualities to go even further.”

This season may not have been the best for Bailly, but looking ahead to what will be a busy month, the likelihood that the Ivorian will play in each match is high with both Chris Smalling and Phil Jones on the sidelines through long-term injuries sustained on international duty, meaning that Bailly, Marcos Rojo, and Daley Blind are the only experienced defenders in the first team with Axel Tuanzebe able to step in if needed. With the lack of defensive reinforcements, the likelihood that Mourinho will play five at the back is slim, as he will need reinforcements on the bench should any further injuries hit the side. United will face West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, needing a victory to keep the pressure on Arsenal, who lie below them at this current time, Liverpool and Manchester City, who sit above them.

Bailly has a good career ahead of him. His first season in Manchester saw a composed, tough and threatening defender, which is something that is needed at the club. Getting a partner who is more of the same will be better heading into next season. United have been looking at defensive reinforcements already with Victor Lindelof, Jose Gimenez, Raphael Varane, among others linked with summer moves. Some of these may be the case of newspapers making things up to gain popularity, but others might possibly have some legs. The main thing is that Vidic feels Bailly has settled in well in Manchester, playing to the best of his abilities, and earning his plaudits. Long may that continue, and if it does, it could go a long way to seeing Manchester United reach the promised land once again.

copyright: JW