When Sir Alex Ferguson brought then unknown Serbian Centre back Nemanja Vidic to Old Trafford during the January transfer window of 2006, you could have forgiven Sir Alex for thinking he may have made a mistake in signing the Serbian, after witnessing his new centre back get off a shaky start to his Manchester United career.
The doubts raised were not just around Vidic, but too for fellow team mate Patrice Evra as the club looked to win back the league title from then Champions Chelsea. What was to follow was nothing short of incredible as Vidic became arguably one of Sir Alex Fergusons finest signings during his managerial career at Old Trafford, going on to play a crucial role from the back , as Manchester United climbed to the peak of not just English football but World Football.
During Vidic’s time at the club, he won virtually everything there was to win in the game both on the pitch and off the pitch. On the pitch he won 5 Premier League titles, (2007,2008,2009,2011,2013) One European Cup (2008), 3 League Cups (2006,2009,2010) and to top it off One Club World Cup back in 2008. Off the pitch his efforts were recognised as he on many occasions was named Manchester United’s player of the season and was named Premier League player of the season.
His Partnership formed with team mate Rio Ferdinand in particular was sensational. The pair became a solid rock at the back stopping everything that got in their path and with Edwin Van De Sar in goal, it was easy to recognize why United were at the peak of World Football. Yes the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez may have grabbed the headline’s but Vidic and Ferdinand’s contribution was just as important if not more.
He wasn’t just noted for his defending either, he became a real nuisance for the opposition at the 0ther end of the pitch. Not many centre backs out there can boast a record of scoring 21 goals in their career. Moments such as scoring the winner against Everton at Goodsion Park to scoring a vital header in the Champions League against Inter Milan, when the big occasion came Vidic didn’t go missing.
If I had to pick the years where Vidic was the peak of his powers it would be between 2007-2011. There was no defender on the planet who could touch him, week in week out he delivered outstanding performance’s on a regular basis. When you seen his name on the team sheet you just couldn’t see Manchester United conceding a goal, he was that good!
Vidic’s consistent performances for Manchester United eventually led to him been given the captains armband, which was handed over to him back in 2010. This was a responsibility Vidic excelled at where under his leadership United went on to win 2 Premier League Titles (2011,2013) In many respects he didn’t really need the captains armband, his leadership on the field was always ever present, but for Sir Alex to hand over the armband to him just shows how highly he recognised him.
Of course just like anything good it has to come to an end eventually and when Sir Alex Ferguson left Old Trafford for the last time back in May 2013, so in reality did Vidic. He may have been ever present under then new Manager David Moyes but he just wasn’t the same player, The Vidic we all knew had gone and he wasn’t coming back as the club went into transition.
Despite leaving the club in somewhat negative circumstances, his legacy at the club will live on forever amongst the Old Trafford faithful. He quite easily ranks as one of the finest Centre backs I have ever witnessed in football and I am sure even people 30,40 even 50 years older than myself, would say the exact same thing, he really was something special.