Friday, 7 February 2014

How Important is Vidic to Manchester United?

News coming out of Old Trafford this morning is that Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic will be leaving the club at the end of the season when his contract expires, although he will not be staying in England. There was a time when the partnership of Ferdinand and Vidic was unrivalled in defensive superiority, it’s safe to say those days have passed, the pair have started just one game together so far this season.

Vidic has made 15 starts so far this season, he’s made an average of 1.5 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per game. Of the defenders in the United squad, only Rafael and Jones have better statistics. Vidic has made a staggering 10.7 clearances per game, the most in the United squad and in the Premier League. Vidic’s aerial prowess is shown by the fact that he wins an average of 3.9 headers per game, his strength is something that’ll be missed.

With Vidic
Without Vidic
Swansea                1-4 W
West Brom                 1-2 L
Chelsea                  0-0 D
Southampton             1-1 D
Liverpool                1-0 L
Stoke                          3-2 W
Crystal Palace       2-0 W
Cardiff                         2-2 D
Manchester City    4-1 L
Aston Villa                  0-3 W
Sunderland            1-2 W
West Ham                  3-1 W
Fulham                   1-3 W
Hull                              2-3 W
Arsenal                  1-0 W
Cardiff                         2-0 W
Spurs                     2-2 D
Stoke                          2-1 L
Everton                   0-1 L

Newcastle              0-1 L

Norwich                  0-1 W

Spurs                      1-2 L

Swansea                2-0 W

Chelsea                  3-1 L

In the games that Vidic has played United have won 7, lost 6 and drawn 2, a win percentage of 46.7%. Without Vidic they have won 5, drawn 2 and lost 2, a win percentage of 55.6%. Arguably United played tougher teams with Vidic in the team, only one of the 9 game he missed was against top 9 opposition (Southampton), whereas he played 9 games against teams from the top 9. That highlights Vidic’s importance, he plays in the big games if he is fit. United have only kept 2 clean sheets without Vidic but have kept 5 when he has started.

In losing Vidic United lose more than just a top class defender, they lose their captain and a leader on the pitch, replacing him won’t be easy. When Vidic plays he inspires confidence in the team and those around him, his organisational skills will be badly missed.

However, it allows Moyes to begin the restructuring which is so badly needed. You’d expect this to also be the last season for Patrice Evra as well, the United back four next season will have a very different feel to it.

You’d expect Moyes will have to dip into the transfer market if he is to find a suitable replacement for Vidic. Phil Jones has been deployed into many positions without really making any of them his own although centre-back is undoubtedly his best position. A partnership between Jones and Smalling would take time to develop, but would be solid for years to come if it did so in the right way. Smalling is another who hasn’t really taken the chances when they’ve been given to him. Jones and Smalling have started just 6 games apiece in the centre of the United defence and have not played there together. The preference has been to use Jonny Evans, personally I don’t think he’s good enough for United.

Rio Ferdinand is too injury prone to hold down a starting place, Moyes must want a settled back four and Ferdinand has played just 7 games so far this season. Moyes can’t afford to be sentimental, despite the fact Ferdinand has been a great servant to the club his fitness isn’t good enough and he looks more error prone than in his prime. Ferdinand would be a strong figure to have around the club, perhaps in a coaching role.

It’d be interesting to know whether or not Vidic would have left if Ferguson was still in charge or had United been more successful this season. His departure signifies a weakening of the club, it is the player who is deciding to leave not the club telling him to, when presumably they will have tried to make him stay. One thing’s for certain, Vidic will be a huge miss for United next year.

Statistics courtesy of

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