Wednesday 7th December 2011 – a night that everyone associated with Manchester United would like to banish from their memory bank.
The disastrous defeat to FC Basel resulted in United’s exit from the UEFA Champions League in a group many predicted we would progress from. The result and its consequence seem insignificant now though, with what else the Red Devils lost that night proving far worse.
In the 44th minute, captain Nemanja Vidic damaged cruciate ligaments in his right knee which saw the end of his 2011/12 campaign. The outcome for Manchester United saw a trophy-less season whilst our noisy neighbours, Manchester City, won the league title on goal difference.
Would things have been different if Vidic hadn’t had that injury? I would like to think so; especially when I recall dropped points which might have been otherwise if he was available, such as the 4-4 draw against Everton – a particular example.
That’s all in the past now and looking ahead to the 2012/13 season afresh; I cannot wait to see Vidic stride out wearing the number 15 shirt of Manchester United.
As always when someone returns from a lengthy layoff with a serious injury, there will inevitably be those who doubt whether or not they will return the same player with the skills they possessed beforehand.
With the latest modern medical treatments, and previous examples of players having had the same injury coming back to form, I’m more than confident Vidic will come back to his all-conquering best.
At 30-years-old he still has a lot to give to the club and his longevity should only increase after he announced his retirement from international football following Serbia’s failure to qualify for Euro 2012.
A question that manager Sir Alex Ferguson will now be asking himself is, who should partner Vidic as centre back come the opening game of the season away to Everton on the 20 thAugust?
From the options of Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones – my choice would be Ferdinand. Smalling and Jones’ time will definitely come as they are both exciting talents but they are still vastly inexperienced at the top level.
Evans had a solid season replacing Vidic but the form of Ferdinand, during the last campaign, was a key reason as to why we pushed City all the way for the league title. His experience was vital at the heart of the defence and alongside Vidic – they provide one of the best centre back partnerships in English and European football.
With Vidic back in pre-season training, this should already give anyone associated with the club a massive boost. His presence on and off the pitch will only benefit United going into the new campaign as we look to right the wrongs of last season.
Opposing teams beware. Nemanja’s back.
By Luke Augustus @Luke_Augustus29