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Do United or Rio and Vidic Need To Worry?

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.

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Gotta hate tiny tears says:

    injuried or 100% fit i think and taught that Rio should of been dropped for evans for sunday and wednesday
    Rio needs a kick up the arse

  2. Jack says:

    vidic had ladyboy in his pocket all game sunday ( apart from his goal), he won everything in the air v him and whenever ladyboy came near him vidic took it off him, vidics fine…
    dont know about rio but give him a couple more games or let evans play cause its unfair to leave him out when he aint done nothing wrong..

  3. Tufty says:

    I see Rio didnt attand his Manchester Premier of his film last night as he wasputting his football first.
    Im not convinced by Evans, struggles at times in the air and gets outmuscled very easy. Some of that comes with experience.
    Wes Browns best positiuon is right back, as he has a few failings for playing in the centre.
    A lot of talk of Vidic leaving next summer (from good sources) and not happy after being denied a move this summer, so we will see what happens with that.

  4. Fze123 says:

    Basically they both need to be told they aren’t irreplacable.

    Evra Wes Evans O’Shea
    Nani Ando Scholes Valencia
    Berbatov Owen

    Rooney to be rested for chelsea.

  5. wayne says:

    i’ve always liked wes brown and evans has deveolped into a top class player so i don’t think its a issue

  6. Gotta hate tiny tears says:

    Id try Obertan instead of nani

  7. Redsmoke says:

    Both Wes Brown and Jonny Evans are good enough to stop that high potent Blackburn attacking threat, that is now probably missing Jason Roberts. Rest Rio and Vidic, next weeks matches would be easier with a fit Rio and Vidic.

  8. bigphil2003 says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but did Wes and Evans not play together at Burnley? And If Barnsley knew how to shoot they could have scored 3 or 4 in midweek. Evans is strong as a central defender in my book, but while Wes Brown has always been solid I’ve never been too confident with him at centre back – never mind that he’s no where near the form he had two years ago.
    Hopefully at least one of Rio/Vidic is fit to partner Evans tomorrow (especially with Fletch and Hargreaves still missing) otherwise we could be in for a dodgy game.

  9. Scott the Red says:

    Tufty – it’s great to see and a strong indication that we were right in claiming he was taking his eye of the ball in preference of his off field exploits.

    He was planning to attend but pulled out last minute, so clearly someone has had a word with him or he’s had a moment of clarity. Good to see he’s getting his priorities straight. More of the same please Rio!

    BigPhil – Burnley’s goal was a cracker. That defeat was at the hands of our attacking players (and penalty taker!) not the defence.

  10. Mic says:

    We have at the back De Leat, Brown, Fabio, Rafael, O’Shea, Evans. I really don’t see what the problem is, Blackburn have far worse injuries and Vidic and Rio will be fine for our next game considering that they’re only doubts. A back four of De Leat(either LB or RB) Evans Brown O’Shea(either LB or RB) is fine for me and we still have Rafael and Fabio. We should be fine, the only real problem is Lawro has us down for a 4-0 win!!

  11. theboogeyman says:

    He was talking about Barnsley,Scott.Not Burnley.

  12. Fze123 says:

    Ghtt, we shouldn’t rush Obertan into the first team just yet, though I think he’ll be on the bench on saturday.

    I don’t think we should be taking anything for granted, we should win 4-0 but it’s unlikely, blackburn’s a weak team and half their players are missing but we still could lose unexpectedly, a 1-0 win would be enough for me really. Hopefully non of our players catch swine flu, that would be a huge blow.

  13. Costas says:

    Maybe as a partnership they same starting to go past their very best. But they are still my first choice partnership. But a lot of it will depend on Rio and if he gets his shit together. It can’t be an age issue. Carragher is older than Rio and you don’t see him struggling with injuries and lapses of concentration all the time.

  14. bigphil2003 says:

    boogeyman I was actually talking about both games! lol. But I can see how that would be confusing. Fair point Scott about Burnley’s goal being a cracker, but I don’t remember the defence having the best of nights anyway. Still, Wes and Jonny are both very good defenders and they should be able to do a job – I’m just unconvinced that Wes is truly back to his proper form, otherwise he would probably be playing at RB most weeks.

  15. theboogeyman says:

    bigphil2003-I am easily confused and I did notice after posting my comment that you were talking about both games.

  16. WHO says:

    give them more time guys, they have not turned bad all of a sudden, it was their fourth game together last sunday, some of which had no vds, give them 2 or 3 more games and they will be set, torres touch on sunday put it away from rio and he couldnt get the ball unless he went through him, apart that neither of them was bad, rio has made mistakes but he is a class act


    is their genuine talk of vidic leaving?

  17. utdforever says:

    Vidic to me looks like he’s playing his way back into form as is Rio (how could he not, he’s been quite shocking recently) so I don’t think there’s cause for all this panic about our defensive options! Had to laugh at the rumour that Harry wants Rio at Spurs next year.. all of a sudden Rio has gone from one of the world’s classiest defenders to the worst on the planet. Because of what? Injury and a couple of blunders, albeit potentially costly ones.. but come on now. People are havin a laugh in saying he may be past it. Anyway, as we know we’ve got great support in the form of Wes and Evans so for me it’s Evans to partner the fitter out of Rio and Vidic with Wes playing right back (his best position) and Patrice on the left. Berbs and Owen up front so we can give Wayne his rest for the chavs of chelsea. Think it will be a closer game than many expect but if we do go a couple of goals in front I’d like to see Obertan on the pitch to exploit their backline. Valencia and Obertan on the wings, just think about that for a second.. yes please!

  18. Giles Oakley says:

    I do think there are real concerns about Rio, and to a lesser extent Vidic, and it’s not good to hear they may be out injured, again. I’m very happy to have Wes and Jonny Evans in the centre of defence however, although I’d prefer to have Wes at right back, but what we really need is a period when we get the same defensive formation week-in, week-out. I know in our record-breaking run last year it wasn’t the same back-four every time, but there was much more stability overall. Fergie is chopping and changing all the time and that really showed defensively against Barnsley, who created about as many chances as bloody Barca! Having said that, I’m all for giving the kids a chance, not least to put pressure on ‘established’ players (and in Rio’s case to get him to sort out his priorities) .I’ve said before, we have several players coming to the end of their careers at the same time so we must let younger players have a real chance.Those kids need a decent run, just as much as older players coming back from injury. When Wes first emerged in 1998 he got a lot of games and has never been out of the frontline first team squad ever since (except when he’s been injured, which has sadly been all-too-often). I’d like us to have the same back four against Blackburn, then in the Champs Lge, and then against Chelsea.

  19. ashhotjet90 says:

    I think our defence was woeful against Barnsley . Wes got beaten by the Barnsley substitute easily and yeah , a better team would probably have scored 4 . At Old trafford the problem might not occur , play Vidic , he had Ladyboy in his pocket and his confidence seems to be on the rise .

  20. Doghouse says:

    What I’ve been seeing in Rio’s game lately is a little lack of the hunger. Hunger is what makes United great, it is what makes players like Giggs so sharp for so long, and you can see it in the younger players from Rooney to Evra to Fletcher and Evans. Rio, to me, seems to lack that and it’s why he’s lost some of his edge in my view. As GHTT said above though, it’s nothing a bit of a kick won’t fix.

  21. Dave Mack says:

    Too much has been made of Rio’s part in Torres’s goal last week. The fact is Torres received a great pass that gave him a yard on Rio before he received the ball. If Rio had of got a tackle in to prevent one of the best strikers in the world scoring in that situation it would truly have been “world class”. Both he and Vidic undoubtedly fit that label but not every moment in every game. There’s no question for me that Rio will play his way back into top form.

  22. MUFCOKMANC says:

    Rio is a top class defender, him and Vidic were a class apart a couple of seasons ago and set the expectations so high but it was obvious you cant retain such standards forever.

    For me though im not keen on Rio, why the hell is a footballer thats playing for Manchester United FC producing his own magazine and making films with cashly cole (what a douche) when he’s still in a team searching for their 4th title in a row he should be concentrating purely on football.

    Modern day footballers are a joke.

  23. cantona7 says:

    well i have to agree with Giles Oakley. Rio is in a bigger trouble than Vidic is. And thanks Tufty for telling us about Rio not attending his own movie premiere. Hope that’s the end of the bullshits from Rio.

    I am not a big fan of Wesley Brown, although i simpathize him for all the injuries. But I see Evans is a lot more capable than him at CB. If both Rio and Vidic are unavailable, I would rather have Brown at RB and O’Shea at CB instead.


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