Nemanja Vidic has been an incredibly popular figure around Manchester United since signing for us in 2006. He’s one of the best central defenders we’ve ever had wear our shirt and there’s no denying the impact he’s had on our success. We’ve won something every year he’s been here, including three league titles and the European Cup.
However, last season I had come to terms with him leaving in the summer. Whilst the player never indicated he wanted to leave, in fact, always said the contrary, his agent clearly had itchy feet. Without saying Vidic was definitely leaving, agent Paolo Fabbri repeatedly implied that a move to one of Europe’s other top clubs was on the cards.
I didn’t begrudge him the move though. Whilst obviously I’d prefer he stayed, he’s only been with us four and a half years, he turns 29 this season, his wife fancies Barcelona’s climate over Manchester’s (who wouldn’t?), the Premiership is the only top league he has experienced and finally, it’s his last chance of a big pay day.
So, mentally, I let him go. I was anticipating we’d get a good £25-30m for him from Real Madrid or Barcelona, bring in someone else decent, and watch Evans, Rio and the newbie fight it out for the starting role. I didn’t hate him or dislike him for what I expected him to do, but it made me a bit indifferent to him.
Considering he had been out injured for most of the season too, it just seemed fairly easy to let him move on, from an emotional perspective. In terms of practicality, he would be incredibly difficult to replace.
However, when David Gill announced a few weeks ago that Vidic had agreed a new long term deal with the club, I couldn’t quite believe it. I was wary of the fact the contract had yet to be signed though and it took me by surprise to see him wearing the captain’s armband in the opening games against Chelsea and Newcastle. Being honest, I wanted us to forget passing it about between Neville, Giggs and Rio. The captain should be a player who starts every week and who isn’t massively injury prone. Whilst Vidic was injured a lot last season, that’s not a trait which has dogged any of his other seasons with the club, so certainly should be in the running for the captaincy, although my preference would be for Darren Fletcher or Patrice Evra, whose futures at the club never come under any doubt.
However, any worries that Gill was talking out of his arse were dispelled before the weekend when Vidic put pen to paper on a deal that keeps him here until 2015.
So, is the armband just a way to placate the player? Probably not. Vidic has worn the armband on a number of occasions before and the manager is a better judge of who should give our team leadership than me. Had this past season not just happened, I’d probably be fully support the decision of making him captain, but I still feel differently about him now. I hate to come across as neurotic and I’m sure my feelings will change again, but I’m not really feeling him as captain.
He has always publicly maintained the idea that he is going to stay and maybe we all should have taken him at his word. Maybe he’s just the victim of a dodgy agent and a demanding wife. I just feel a bit detached from him these days.
Give it a few weeks.