Between the Lines

"Of all unimportant subjects, football is the most important" – Pope John Paul II

Our rock is crumbling before our very eyes

Posted by hakanrylander on October 27, 2009

For the last three seasons United’s success (including three consecutive PL-titles) has to a large extent been built on the solid foundation of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. This season the partnership has looked rather more shaky.  But I have felt that even though this was perhaps not as insignificant as a “blip” it would still sort itself out before long. Until now. After the defeat at Anfield I now believe that central defence is turning into a long term problem.

Throughout his career Rio Ferdinand has been accused of occasionally going to sleep and lacking concentration, but this problem largely disappeared a few years ago. Lately his focus might have suffered more from all kinds of off-field activities that seem to occupy his mind. This stretches from becoming a father to editing his own magazine, involving himself in a restaurant venture and producing movies. Still the most serious problem is probably his fitness. He needs continous physiotherapy for his recurring back spasms and hasn’t been able to fully join in training for most of the season. My impression is that the doctors don’t know the root of the problem and are just treating the symptoms.

In previous seasons Nemanja Vidic has occasionally looked vulnerable to pace. This was most obvious when he was humiliated by Torres at Old Trafford last season. Three successive red cards against Liverpool/Torres is not a coincidence.  This season he seems to be in trouble more often. One example is that he was lucky not to be sent off against Wolfsburg, when he found it difficult to handle Dzeko and Grafite. Meanwhile rumours continue to surface that Vidic (or his wife) is tired of England and would prefer to live in Spain or Italy. It’s also very likely that Barcelona will be in the market for a central defender next summer.

Perhaps I’m wrong in describing our defensive rock as a partnership, when in fact Edwin van der Sar has been very much a part of it. The fact that Van der Sar has been injured for a large part of this season, and that Ben Foster has looked out of his depth has made it more difficult for Vidic and Ferdinand. It would be so much easier to ease in a new keeper if the Ferdinand-Vidic partnership was in perfect shape.

I fear that we might in fact be moving towards a scenario where Van der Sar retires, Vidic leaves for Spain and Ferdinand struggles even more with injuries. This would leave Ferguson with a major rebuilding challenge in a key area. Thank heavens for Jonny Evans.

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5 Responses to “Our rock is crumbling before our very eyes”

  1. The Gaffer said

    ‘Thank heavens for Jonny Evans.’ This has to my favorite line!

    Anyway, I think with Vidic it’s slightly a knee jerk reaction. He has not been as bad as people have said recently. The game against Liverpool was poor, but I’m sure that we won’t see to many repeats of that performance unless he’s facing Torres again.

    With Ferdinand, his fitness is affecting him. He has been unsatisfactory of late, and will need to get back to full fitness otherwise the worse is yet to come.

    His film,(going slightly off topic) is really bad. I actually advise you not to watch it! I think him and Ashley Cole produced it together. Some improvement is needed on the film!

  2. hakanrylander said

    Thanks for the warning! I’ll stay away from the film.

  3. RedJack said

    I agree with the comments here, however at the ages these players are I don’t that we can write them off. A run of 5-10 games with each other and vdsaar should bring the confidence and form back. I still believe that Foster is the future keeper but he needs to start realising his potential and not just promising.

    Tosic and Obertan had very good games last night which leaves em hopeful for their futures. I said earlier in the season that Tosic needs games at this level to settle in and hopefully he will get a cup run to show what he can do.

    Obertan on the evidence of last night (granted against lower league opposition) should be pushing Nani very hard over the season as his final ball,speed,decision making were very good.

    On a less positive note Gary Neville should seriously consider hanging up his boots. The challenge that he made was atrocious and I think was borne from lack of ability to keep pace at the level he needs to as opposed to any “rush of blood”.

    I though that Barnsley played very well and gave the team a good test but our fans behaved like animals and I am ashamed to be associated with “supporters” like this.

  4. hakanrylander said

    Cheers RedJack: I hope you’re right that a run of games will put everything right, but I’m somewhat pessimistic. Age is not necessarily a problem, but I’m concerned that Ferdinand is having recurring, and apparently quite serious, injury problems at his age (he’s 31 next week).
    Good point about Obertan. In my book he’s already above Nani in the pecking order. I’m not yet convinced about Tosic but yesterday was a step in the right direction.
    The “supporters” just make me sad.

  5. i dont think we need to worry with j evans in line

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