Nemanja Vidic didn’t take long to win the United crowd over. His no nonsense attitude, chopping opposition strikers in half, and doing all he can to get in front of the ball, is admired by United fans and rivals alike. He’s your typical “hard” defender and has made the World of difference to our defence. He wins the ball in situations you could never expect a player to do so, and his head is on the end of almost every cross that comes in to our box. He is a firm favourite and news that he had just signed a contract extension to keep him with the club until 2012 was met warmly by ours fans.
We are currently waiting around to find out whether Nemanja will be able to travel with us for our next league game away at Bolton. Serbia’s qualifier against Kazakhstan at the weekend was postponed due to snow and has been rescheduled for this coming weekend. Serbia still have some hope of qualifying, however slim it might be, and will not release the player if they are relying on a win against Kazakhstan. They play Poland on Wednesday, which is a must win, but their hopes of qualification lay in the hands of Portugal, who face Finland. A draw for Portugal would guarantee their qualification, and deny Serbia their chance to play in Euro 2008. That is a likely scenario, therefore it is likely Vidic will be allowed to play for us at the weekend, rather than playing out a meaningless game against Kazakhstan.
Vidic has been interviewed this week, discussing topics such as fear, his most dreaded opponent, his feelings towards the fans, and how he rates his own ability.
Robin van Persie, Didier Drogba, and Kenwyne Jones are the players Vidic feels are the most difficult strikers to mark and play against, and also mentions Yakubu and Heskey as strong players he has to work hard against. When asked if he had any fear when going in to the more dangerous looking challenges, Vidic responded, “all I want to do is get first to the ball and win the header or win the tackle. I don’t think about getting hurt. I do what I have to do and I only want the ball.”
Vidic is welcoming of the support that comes from the crowd, with the fans singing his song every week, ‘Nemanja, wooah, Nemanja, wooah, he comes from Serbia, he’ll fuckin murder ya.’ “If the fans think highly of you and respect what you do then that’s a great honour,” he said. “When they sing my name I feel really good.”
However, he doesn’t pretend to understand why. He is very self-deprecating when it comes to his own ability, saying, “every game I give 100 per cent – maybe sometimes I have a bad day but I always try my best. I always want to win the ball and maybe fans recognise those things and like that about me. This is my game and it’s how I’ve always played and how I’ll continue to play. I’m not sure why they like me so much… my qualities are average! To be honest, I ask myself all the time, ‘What do they see in me?’.”
His oblivious nature towards our adoration only adds to our feelings of the player, who doesn’t appear to have the ego so many Premiership players, including some of our own, are infected with these days. He just wants to play football, and he wants to win. More often than not, winning is inevitable when Vidic is in the lineup. If he isn’t available for Bolton, it leaves us with slight problems at the back. Danny Simpson will likely be brought in to play at right back, whilst Wes would partner Rio in the centre. Hardly a disastrous situation, particularly against a team who are in tatters, and have only won one game all season, however most teams can call on their reserve tank when facing United in front of their home fans, and we can’t count the Bolton game as three points. In this fixture last season, at the end of October, Bolton were undefeated at home, and had won six of the nine games they’d played in the league. United came to town, Rooney bagged a hatrick, and we left the Reebok with three points after a 4-0 victory. They will want to settle the score and there is no way we can anticipate their reaction to us. We want Vidic in the team at the weekend.
So now we have an extra reason to cheer if we see Ronaldo putting one past Finland for Portugal on Wednesday!