Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are one of the best defensive partnerships in Europe and are certainly one of the best Manchester United have ever seen. However, it was the strength of the Gary Pallister and Steve Bruce pairing which help bring the league title back to Old Trafford back in 1993, and Pally has offered up his opinion on Rio as a captain and a defender.
“He has grown in stature over the last year, since Gary Neville has been out injured,” said Pallister. “When he was at Leeds I thought he was the leader, bossing people about. But when he came to United, with big personalities like Neville, he became a lot quieter and left it to other people. It was interesting that once Neville got injured he took it upon himself to be the voice at the back. There are not a lot of captains in the United team and the manager likes to have a few who are vocal. He probably had a word with Rio and it has had an effect on his game. Rio has the respect of everybody around him because of what he has achieved in the game.”
Pallister has also reflected on Rio’s form last season, which was without doubt his best season in a United shirt.
“He was outstanding last season,” said Pallister. “He’s put the problems of a few years ago, his contract dispute and the missed drugs test, behind him. His partnership with Nemanja Vidic is sensational and their defensive record over the last couple of years has shown that. I know United score a lot of goals, but when you are solid at the back, it is the foundation for success. When Rio first came to United he didn’t have a regular partner and that affected his form. You need someone you can trust and work with week in, week out. The manager brought in Vidic and the pair of them have formed a great understanding. They are two different players like Steve Bruce and I were, and it has worked well.”