Rio FerdinandThe disappointing result against Middlesbrough was soon put to the back of our minds when news broke that Rio Ferdinand returned to the team bus with his foot in a protective case. In the age where metatarsal breaks are the new craze, the thought that Ferdinand could have broken his foot was pretty unbearable. Already missing Vidic and seeing what costly effect that had to our defence, the last thing we needed was for Rio, who has been our player of the season after Ronaldo, to miss the rest of the campaign.

Scans revealed that nothing was broken the following day, much to our relief, but there was still no word on whether he would be fit for Roma, and more importantly, Arsenal. A back four of Hargreaves – Brown – Pique – Evra was surely our best bet, after John O’Shea looked massively out of his depth and out of place at the Riverside, but that wasn’t set to instil fear in our opponent’s strike force. Whilst our attacking players have stolen much of the limelight this season, our defence have been the foundation of our success in both the league and Europe, and the prospect of a makeshift defence for crucial games was certainly worrying.

However, it has been announced today that Rio could feature in tomorrow’s match against Roma. How crucial is this to United?

“I’m hoping he will be playing tomorrow,” Ferguson at a press conference earlier today. “His scan was clear, which was good news. That’s the most important thing and therefore we hope we can get him fit for tomorrow.”

The Roma game wasn’t the greatest concern anyway, after recording a 2-0 victory away from home, our lads should be comfortable enough tomorrow. If Ferdinand is a risk, I’d much rather see him left out of the squad so that he can be fully recovered for the Arsenal match, which is far more important. After drawing at the Emirates and witnessing Arsenal’s poor current form (DDWLDDWDDDL), United are certainly favourites for the game. However, if we were to play without both Ferdinand and Vidic, we could struggle. Fortunately now that doesn’t appear to be what will happen.

United have long stood by the mentality that “no one player is bigger than the club” after selling on massively important players in the past for the sake of the club, and those decisions have been vindicated by further success. I don’t think that stance is in jeopardy now, but Ferdinand’s impact on our team is immense. He has played like a machine this season, easily the best form he has enjoyed at the club, and with contract talks under way, it appears as though United will offer stupid money to keep him at the club for life.

Long term injuries to Scholes and Rooney had the potential to rock United’s boat, but the team ploughed on. Would we be able to do the same without Rio? It begs the question, just how crucial is Rio Ferdinand to United’s success this season?