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The Time Is Right For Vidic To Leave

cristiano-ronaldo-465-nemanja-vidic-wearing-a-russian-serbian-police-officer-hat-at-manchester-united-celebrationsNemanja Vidic didn’t take long to become a popular figure amongst Manchester United fans thanks to his no-nonsense approach to the game. He loved putting his foot in, was no stranger to a “cheeky” elbow and shirt pull and would stand toe to toe with any opposition player. He was nails and we loved him for it.

“He comes from Serbia, he’ll f*ckin murder ya” United fans sing after he’s made a fantastic tackle, put a player in the stands with the ball, had a telling off from the referee, as well as following a goal, of which he has 20.

“When you are playing football, it’s important – you want fans to love you because you play football for the fans,” Vidic has said. “When they are signing the song in the game, you feel very excited, and you do even more than you really can.”

David Gill wrapped up the Vidic signing on Christmas Day 2005 with the defender then joining the club from Spartak Moscow in January 2006. He was an absolute bargain. We paid £7m for him the same year that Chelsea paid £9m for Khalid Boulahrouz, who was awful.

After a few early wobbles, none as worrying as Patrice Evra who also joined during that transfer window, Vidic started to doubt whether he was at the right club. Thankfully, Ferguson managed to convince him that he was, and began to settle in nicely.

United won the League Cup less than two months after he joined. Ferguson subbed him on with less than ten minutes remaining to give him a taste of the glory.

The following season we won the league back and Vidic was voted in to the PFA Team of the Season by his peers, the first of three consecutive seasons he was recognised as one of the two best central defenders in the league, before winning it again in 2011. He was also named the Premier League Player of the Year twice, in 2009 and in 2011, becoming the first defender ever to do so, and one of three players (alongside Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo) to have won it twice.

His best moment at the club, as it will be for many who have spent the past ten years at United, was when we won the European Cup in 2008. Having formed the foundation for us that season, playing in 45 games in all competitions at the back, he deserves his fair share of the credit for what is the second best season in the club’s history.

Out of interest, Vidic had himself down as ninth on the list to take a penalty against Chelsea. After Ryan Giggs scored his, Rio was set to take the next one if Anelka scored, and then it would have been Vidic’s turn. Thankfully, it never came to that! It’s also nice to remember that it was Vidic’s face that Drogba slapped in extra time, meaning that John Terry took Chelsea’s 5th penalty instead of their striker, who watched the penalty shoot-out from the dressing room after being sent off.

Whilst Moscow was the peak, his lowest point came in our 4-1 defeat to Liverpool during the 2008-2009 season, where it looked as though we were ready to give away the title to Rafa Benitez’s team. Fernando Torres ran Vidic ragged, before he got  sent off. Liverpool scored from the resulting free kick, to make it 3-1, before the humiliating fourth went in.

Still, as disappointing as that day was, United and Vidic had the last laugh, when at the end of that season, with United winning the record-equalling 18th title, Vidic was voted Player of the Season by both the fans and his team mates.

“I am honoured,” Vidic said. “It is amazing to win these awards, especially when I consider the quality of the players I play alongside every day. I would like to say thank you to the fans and to my team-mates. I enjoy being here every day and playing with these players and working with the coaches. I’m very happy here at United. It’s a great night for me. It has been a really good year. I am surprised I got it but I have really enjoyed it. To be honest I don’t have so many individual awards. That’s why I am a bit confused and my speech is not the best. Next time my speech will be a bit better.”

During the 2009-2010 season, it was more or less accepted by most United fans that Vidic would be leaving at the end of the season for Spain. The player behaved well, never hinting about wanting out, but all the talk behind the scenes was that Vidic was ready to move on. After warming up for the game against Leeds in the Cup, Ferguson claimed Vidic didn’t play because of an injury, but the press suggested that he had refused to play. He repeatedly stated that he was going to see out his current deal, which meant he would be leaving the club on a free when he was 30 if he didn’t sign an extension. Whilst the coverage didn’t quite match that of Ronaldo in his final season at the club, I think it’s easy to forget just how regularly rumours circulated that year for Vidic.

When there was an announcement made by the club about the player at the end of July, fans would have been prepared to hear the news that Vidic was leaving. United were on their pre-season tour in America and following United’s win in Philadelphia, Sir Alex Ferguson was very non-committal when asked about Vidic’s future, saying: “I can’t clarify it at all” when asked about speculation about him leaving. When pressed and asked whether the Serb would play for the Manchester team this season, Ferguson replied: “I believe so.”

However, the announcement made by David Gill confirmed that a new four-year-deal had been agreed.

“I don’t know why people think it was a difficult decision,” said Vidic afterwards. “I always said I am happy here. I never spoke about my future. I know there was all this speculation but I never said I wanted to go. There was nothing new. I am very happy to be here.”

Vidic got a massive new contract, making him one of the top earners at the club, and was also given the captaincy to sweeten the deal. The season before he had been fourth in pecking order, behind Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand. The decision wasn’t a totally unexpected one, but it appeared to be driven by the club’s desire to keep him.

At the start of the season, Ferguson explained the decision to make Vidic captain.

“The subject of picking the captain this year was pretty straight forward,” Ferguson said. “Over the past few years Gary Neville has been club captain and team captain, but as we know, Gary’s been subjected to an incredible amount of injuries, so the inconsistency of Gary in the team made us have to look elsewhere. So when you go to pick a captain you want to pick a captain who is going to be playing every week. Defenders normally come in to that, far easier than the likes of Darren Fletcher. Because we have so many selections in midfield, from time to time we change that around. Paul Scholes doesn’t want to be captain, then you’ve got Darren Fletcher who has leadership qualities of course, but we change the midfield so many times. So therefore I chose Nemanja Vidic, who signed a new contract. He’s going to be our most consistent player. If he’s fit, he’ll always play.”

Still, despite signing a new contract, he was still regularly being linked with a move away from the club, but his agent, Silvano Martina, deserves a lot of credit for always moving to dismiss the rumours. In an era when agents are quite happy to let the papers talk about prospective new clubs for their players, to put pressure on the current club to come up with the goods in the form of a new contract, Martina has always been very respectful of United.

“Vidic is a player that everyone wants,” Martina said in June 2011. “I talked to him about a hypothetical transfer and he said ‘I am the captain of Manchester United, I’ve won almost everything. ‘Why should I go to Italy right now that Italian football is going through such a turbulent moment?’. This response removes any doubt about his future – he stays where he is.”

Vidic retired from International duty in October 2011 to prolong his career with the club. That’s the United way, and captain Vidic was more than happy to comply.

Vidic has become more injury prone over the past few years but an injury that really could have been the end of him was when he did his cruciate in December 2011. United lost to FC Basel and therefore didn’t make it out of the groups, but the news about Vidic’s injury was probably as shocking for United fans. You could say goodbye to the Champions League, even if we had played in the final just a few months earlier, but saying farewell to Vidic for the rest of the season was gutting. Plenty of reds wrote off our title challenge there and then. With hindsight, and United going on to lose the title on goal difference, it’s hard to argue that we wouldn’t have won the league, that Vidic isn’t worth at least one point a season, had he not been injured.

When fit, Vidic is still up there with the best, but he has struggled to maintain his fitness over the course of a whole season. Last season he played in just 19 games and the year before that it was 6. He’s already missed 10 league games this season.

Still, at the start of this season, it looked that despite his injury woes, he was determined to stay at United.

“I believe Man United is the biggest club in the world and I think there’s no point to go anywhere else,” Vidic said. “I have to say the last four years I was in that position, people were talking about me leaving the club. I’m still here and I’m enjoying playing for this club. Nothing has changed.”

Something has changed since then though, unless Vidic was just trying to stay positive at the start of the season with a new manager, because he wants to leave now.

“It’s the last year of my contract and I have had eight wonderful years here,” he said this week. “My time at this great club will always rank as the best years of my career. I never could have imagined winning 15 trophies and I will certainly never forget that fantastic night in Moscow, memories that will live with me and the fans forever. However, I have decided that I will move on at the end of this season. I want to challenge myself again and try to make the best of myself in the coming years. I’m not considering staying in England as the only club I ever wanted to play for here is Manchester United and I was lucky enough to be part of this club for so many years. I’ve got a few options to move on and I will choose the right one for me and for my family. I am now going to focus all my efforts on playing for Manchester United and do the best I can for the team until the end of the season. I hope this stops any further speculation about my future.”

Some people have questioned the timing of this statement, given it’s half way through the season, and criticised Vidic for that. Truth be told, if he’s made this statement through, it’s because the club have, at the least, agreed now it’s the right time, or have instructed it to happen now.

Other people have criticised him for leaving the club when we’re obviously in such a difficult position and suggest that, as captain, he should stick around the guide us through it. Now, whilst this is a romantic view of what football could be like, it’s purely fantasy. Vidic has a few months remaining on his contract and he’s on his way to 33. The best he could expect from United is a one-year-extension and a drop in salary. He could pick up an injury next season that damages him almost beyond repair, and then what? You can’t berate a player for wanting job security, so whilst I agree with United’s stance on contracts for players over 30, I also totally respect any player who decides they need more than that for themselves and their family.

Vidic has been a fantastic player for us and a good captain, who has given the best years of his career to us, winning five league titles, one European Cup, three League Cups, and one FIFA World Club Cup in seven and a half seasons. He is on the decline though and that is why the decision to leave is the right for the club and player.

All the best, Vida.

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. shaan says:

    I can’t help but feel that Zaha is going through the same mental block that Pogba went through. They both think they are world beaters. May be I am wrong and just assuming but based on the game that he played yesterday he wasn’t putting the performance required or expected from him.

    May be we were wrong about Moyes not playing Zaha and Fabio. Zaha does need to get his act together. He needs to train hard and get a leaf out of Ronaldo or Beckham’s book.

    Train Hard, come early and go late.

  2. shaan says:

    Also I was surprised at the way Looserpool played yesterday. Fuck they teared Le Arse apart. That is the kind of football I expect US to play. Atleast Moyes needs to try new formations, shake people up but when you look at the players that we have, the formation they are used to and injuries, I don’t think he had to luck.

  3. KevlarD says:

    Couldn’t agree more about Vidic. Great servant and while not a lifer is a legend in my book and at the very least has to go down as a very special player. His commitment to the cause and hard style gave us a Keane like steel at times which really allowed our attack minded players more freedom to get forward. He well be missed but the time seems right. He isn’t the same player as he was before the injuries but still would be capable of playing a role in our squad. However, he wants to challenge himself and I can only say good luck to him. Any speculation or assumptions about something else being wrong behind the scenes are just that speculation.

    Rio looks destined to follow this summer and possible Evra too. Not to mention it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Chicharito, Anderson (permanently), and even Nani leave this summer. Especially if they have a good world cup and United can cash in. United will be busy this summer regardless, but even more so if they all leave. Which explains why they have been scouting everyone worth a look.

    We can still finish in the top 4 but it isn’t looking likely. Liverpool’s current form looks tough to catch and add our struggles and it does seem a bridge too far. If Moyes doesn’t finish in top 4 he will be under immense pressure. I think the hierarchy will stick with him even if we don’t finish top 4. I do believe he knows how to win in this league and is up to the challenge of adapting to the United way.

    Regardless of who our manager is at the start of the summer they will have a job to do rebuilding this squad. We just need that moment where our players realize they are talented players again. Form has been so inconsistent due to squad changes (due to injuries, rotation, and Moyes learning the team) and poor performances. Todays result is crucial. We have to win and keep pace. A big loss would see our champions league hopes for next year end. A big win could see our season turn around. I am expecting the latter, come on boys!

  4. shaan says:

    It may sound crazy but I feel Arsenal will crack now. They may very well finish outside top four and pave way for US to enter.

  5. scholes18 says:

    is it only me who sees that vidic was still required at the club. no, not for that mentoring role but as a player. he is still a top class defender and rarely commit mistakes.


    arsenal always crack in feb and this season will not be an exception either. unfortunately, gap between us and them is huge enough to imagine scenario which you wrote at least ATM. liverpool always use to play good football. only difference which i see in their play is pressing down of opponents and obviouldy goals going in

  6. shaan says:

    @scholes18. Yesterday Loserpool were everywhere. What I mean is the players were there when they were attacking, they were there when they were defending. There were always 3 players against one opponent.

  7. TopRed123 says:

    The time is also right for Moyes to leave. From Champions to upper mid-table (we are NOT finishing top4). Fucking laughable. Show some ambition. Once the expectations have been lowered it is fucking hard to raise them again.

  8. Jackie Spain says:

    @TopRed123: So who would you replace Moyes with?

  9. slim says:

    @Jackie Spain

    I’m literally gagging for this one. Got my drink in hand waiting eagerly . I wonder who it’ll be.

  10. slim says:

    Where are all the Pogba rumours coming from. Got my 2 cents on the matter, well documented on here so i won’t go into it all over again. I ‘m just waiting to see the starting line up and for the match to start. I think we’ll see Mata and Januzaj start today, with Rooney behind or alongside RVP. These guys have had a week or so worth of training with each other and learning more about themselves. Its time they got their fingers out their asses and play like they mean it

  11. scholes18 says:

    even if we manage to beat fulham by 6 goals to nil, will it raise any hopes? i dislike moyes for putting us into this position. hopefully he gets his team selection right.

    i would love to see kagawa starting on left with mata,roo, RVP and januzaj. intelligent players, interchanging positions, no singular and tame playing philosophy, may be we will get our utd back

  12. Mark Reid says:

    Tabloids all full of idle gossip this morning Luke Shaw,Coleman,Pogba,Vidal all rumored targets,PSG looking for Januzai(they can fuck off).makes you laugh,you can say anything in these rags and get it printed think I’ll have a stab.
    BREAKING news Messi walks out on Barca was seen on a ferry heading to the UK witha mysterious man with a Manchester accent.Ronaldo admits to missing The Manchester weather would love to link up with Messi at his old teams.Ryan Giggs fixed his time machine and will come back as a 30 year old next week(with Pele).etc

  13. Adedayo Charles says:

    Let face it, the decision is good for both club and player. Vidic being an honest player realises the fact he does not pocess the energy and the pace reqiured to succed in the premier league and at united. He could have taken the easy way out by agreeing an extention like Giggs has been doing but where will that leave us. Age and innjuries have taken it tolls and for a defender whose game depends on physicality, Vida can no longer keep pace with the best of strikers. He’s come and done his bit. The hallmark of a great man is to know when to qiut. I think its the right time for Vida to bow out. So long Buddy. We shall all miss u.

  14. Only 1 Utd says:

    De Gea


    Hopefully this is todays starting lineup and bench although I can see him resting Januzaj again and partnering Jones with Carrick.

    Valencia -Rooney-Mata

    This is the starting lineup I expect.

  15. TopRed123 says:

    Someone on a temporary basis until the summer. Even Giggs would probably do a better job than the chosen one, but the point would be to get someone else in to stop the rot and get the players playing some actual football for the remainder of the season. Then go balls out for someone like Klopp or Simeone in the summer. Best of all, I’d taken Mourinho in the summer, but I guess we are too special a club for that.

  16. DeGeaWeTrust says:

    When I read comments on here like maybe I have been a bit too harsh on david moyes, I am saying, you kidding? now its one thing not having this side compete for the title last year, that happens to teams that is sport for you, cycles come and go, but managing to have this side so off the pace for getting a champions league spot by 10 points or more, give me a break. Us united fans always laughed at the press saying we will not make the top 4 every year, it was one of the big reasons why we called the media the ABU, Anyone But United, this ABU saying is starting to dissolve, when some of our own fans start going soft on david moyes. No, you should expect better from your manager, who is getting paid allot of money, and he is failing at his job in more ways than just finishing outside the top 4, look at how the players are set up on the pitch, it is not good enough, which is still me being soft there

    This is united, which has been called by many, the BIGGEST CLUB IN THE WORLD. and like it or not people, this club is structured like a corporation, scratch that, this club is a corporation something Ferguson cannot grasp. The saying united is a football club died the moment this club became a PLC years ago, and became the successful monster it is today. And you know what makes corporations run successful? the profits it makes. Now David Moyes has spent 5 million under 70 million, that is 65 million and we are still a million miles off 4th, and he wants more money. He is already losing this club money, by fucking up with his tactics, his decision making and many more problems. Now in a corporation, if anyone is losing that business the money it needs to be successful, they get fired.

    So the reality is? no, its not been harsh on Moyes, actually the ironic thing with david moyes reign, the press are the ones that we hate the most, have actually been soft on Moyes, and the biggest irony of it all is? its been us fans, who have been the biggest critics. Now I give the Stretford end, the match going united fans, and especially the away fans the support for David Moyes, but that still will not change my view, Moyes has done a horrible job, and we should be doing far better than on show.

    And my final thoughts – you should always want more from united, and the people working and running the club need to know better, work harder, learn, and play better. Never expect under the expectations this club put on you. We never put the expectations on this club, they put it on you. And with these expectations, comes the demand for the best product on show on the pitch. And for me, everyone working at this club, even though its a corporation, should work harder to deliver the best product which meets these expectations. After all, didn’t everyone call this club, THE BIGGEST CLUB IN THE WORLD, live up to it united

  17. Jackie Spain says:

    So TopRed123, “Someone on a temporary basis until the summer” – you have no idea then but happy to get rid.


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