After spending the entire of last season on the sidelines injured Nemanja Vidic’s return to action for Manchester United was supposed to end the defensive frailties that dogged them last season and, ultimately cost them the title. Whilst Man City had an imposing and outstanding figurehead in the backline in the form of Vincent Kompany, United had to adopt youngsters such as Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in the role. Whilst all three had sterling seasons considering their age and experience levels the once supreme Nemanja Vidic void was not exactly filled.
So this season there was muted optimism around Old Trafford that the Serbians return was as good as a new signing and at no point can you doubt the class of the man who reads the game so well it is sometimes hard to believe he isn’t actually predicting the future.
But has he gone a bit soft?
It’s odd to suggest such a thing as he had gained a reputation for being uncompromising and unflattering in his approach toward opposing centre forwards regardless of reputation or indeed build but he has seemed to struggle against the larger opponents this season. Maraoune Fellaini and Rickie Lambert have made him look weak by comparison so far this campaign.
While obviously though having Michael Carrick as a centre-back partner at Goodison didn't help, the reason I bring it up is simply because when I first saw Vidic in the tunnel as United took to the Premier League at Everton I immediately thought he had lost weight, an opinion I have spread amongst mutual friends who all agreed with me. When you usually say this it is in relation to a stocky playmaker or a lummox of a centre forward who has changed shape perhaps been on the sangrias a little extensively over the summer (not saying any names) but Vidic was already in good shape.
Theoretically perhaps he has tried to improve the weakest point of his game which has always been pace and acceleration; as Gabby Agbonlahor and Fernando Torres especially have exploited in the past. By shedding some pounds he may have managed to increase his speed slightly but in doing so has he sacrificed some of the strength he possessed before the injury.
Or maybe he is simply just getting back into the game gingerly, taking his time to readapt before eventually becoming the all encompassing, domineering, powerful centre half we all know and respect.
What do you think? Has Vidic lost some of his edge?
image: © nasmac