Reports today suggest that both Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand are doubtful for Saturday’s match at home to Blackburn Rovers, presumably meaning we will have to rely on Jonny Evans and Wes Brown to play in the centre of our defence.
Vidic and Rio have been criticised for their recent form, particularly in light of the Liverpool game, when Rio was out-muscled and out-run by Fernando Torres, and Vidic was sent off for his third Liverpool game in the row.
In contrast, Evans grows with confidence and competence with every game, whilst Wes put in a great shift against Barnsley and finally is starting to look recovered from his latest bout of injuries.
Mistakes at the back have put a dampener on our season so far, particularly thanks to Ben Foster and Rio Ferdinand, with the incredible defensive record of last season certainly a thing of the past. Our defence this season can only boast matching that of City’s and Stoke’s, which is pretty woeful. Two goals at home against Sunderland should be enough for three points, just as three goals at home to City should be.
Maybe Vidic and Rio need the pressure of competition to raise their game so I’m all for a new defensive partnership coming in this weekend. We’re blessed with centre-backs at our club and whilst I’d prefer Vidic-Rio to improve and leave the right-back space for Wes, I’ve no objections to him having a go in the centre and putting the pressure on.
Of course, Edwin Van der Sar adds more stability to the back four and hopefully we’ll see an improvement in general with him in the side, but the days when Rio and Vidic are guaranteed a starting place in the team may be gone after this weekend if Wes-Evans prove to be a success.
So, I’m not too sure whether it’s United that should be worrying this weekend about playing without their first choice centre-backs, or whether it’s Rio-Vidic that should be nervous over retaining their starting places.
In other defensive team news, Gary Neville is suspended thanks to his straight red card against Barnsley in the week, meaning the right-back spot is up for grabs between John O’Shea and Rafael da Silva. Rafael didn’t have the best game of his career in the centre of our midfield against Barnsely and is currently awaiting news over the yellow card he deserves, after Fabio was booked for his foul.