Nemanja Vidic said he was delighted after making his first appearance since he suffered a serious knee injury during Manchester United's 2-1 defeat by Basel last December. The United captain, who spent eight months on the sidelines after undergoing cruciate ligament surgery, played for an hour in Sunday's goalless draw with the Norwegian side Valerenga in Oslo.
Vidic partnered Rio Ferdinand in central defence on an afternoon when Sir Alex Ferguson stayed in Manchester, leaving Mike Phelan, his assistant, in charge of first-team duties. The United manager is reported to be close to signing Lucas Moura, although the Brazilian federation has rejected suggestions that the midfielder, who is valued at £30m, is having a medical with the Premier League club.
Although United were frustrated that they failed to turn possession into goals against Valerenga, Ferguson will be pleased to learn that Vidic came through the friendly without any problems. The Serbian was part of a strong United side that included four players — Nani, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young — who were making their first pre-season appearance following their participation in Euro 2012.
United dominated and had several decent chances although it was Valerenga who came closest to scoring when Rooney cleared Chuma Anene's header off the line in the second half. Shinji Kagawa, United's £17m summer signing from Borussia Dortmund, looked lively after coming on for Welbeck in a double substitution in the 61st minute that saw Anderson replace Vidic. The 30-year-old Vidic was pleased with his run-out. "It went well," he said. "Obviously it was the first game for a few players, myself as well. It was a good test. The result was not as we expected but still we had a few chances. I think it was a really good game and a really good test for us.
"I felt well. Obviously after eight months without a game you have to get used to your positioning and still, fitness-wise, it's not as it hopefully will be in a few weeks but I'm pleased. The knee felt well and I felt well. Hopefully every game [it] will be better and better."
Vidic admitted it was tough being out for so long but he said he was determined to prove that he is capable of returning as the same player. "It was frustrating but I knew I would be out for six months and I would try to take the best from it, to work hard. And obviously when I came back [I wanted] to be the same as I was before the injury," he said. "This was my target and we'll see how good a job I did in that six months. Obviously it's hard but it's part of the football career and of any sportsman. He has the risk to have injuries and hopefully this is the past and the better days are coming for me."
United now head to Gothenburg for a mouth-watering friendly against Barcelona, who subjected them to such a chastening experience in the Champions League final at Wembley last year, when the Spanish side won 3-1 and outplayed their opponents. "It will be a tough game, obviously a good test for us. We need those games before the league starts," Vidic said. "We have to prepare for the Premier League and the Champions League and this is our target."
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