By Ben Davies
The Daily Mail Online has reported Rio Ferdinand will be out for four months after suffering knee-ligment damage following a challenge from Emile Heskey during England’s World Cup preparation. The future of Vidic has also been a constant talking point during the last 12 months with AC Milan and Real Madrid apparently interested in the big Serbian. If we want to be challenging for major honours come May it is imperative Vidic remains.
So what does this setback mean?
Centre backs currently at Club:
- Jonny Evans
- John O’Shea
- Wes Brown
- Chris Smalling
Evans is capable of stepping up to fill the void left by Ferdinand; he has already featured in big games without much problem. I believe we will see a further improved Evans next season. A year older therefore physically stronger and with the experience gained already his reading of the game will improve.
What do we think of an Evans and a Vidic partnership? Are both players too similar to one another? Ideally, a better partnership is a Rio/Vidic or Pallister/Bruce – a rock of a defender and another which sweeps up the crumbs.
Brown or O’Shea? Both are better as full backs in my opinion. Brown himself has struggled throughout his career with injury problems while O’Shea had a long injury lay off last season. Can the pair be relied upon defensively (as centre backs) and do question marks surround their fitness?
Chris Smalling is now officially a Manchester United player. He impressed against Chelsea performing well against Drogba although unfortunately Smalling scored an own goal. Since the announcement of his signing, he has apparently made several mistakes costing Fulham goals. Like Rafael last season, young defenders make mistakes; those defenders which learn from their mistakes progress to the next level. Rio had similar criticism early in his career.
Smalling is a player for the future rather than an immediate first team player, I wouldn’t be overly critical if mistakes are made, he is still learning. Currently, he is ideal for providing short term cover.
The uncertainty of Vidic’s future has lead to us being linked to several central defenders. One of these players has been Danish International Simon Kjaer. I’m confidently guessing we will be linked with further central defenders with news of Rio’s injury. Can Kjaer replace Rio? I’ll be honest; the World Cup was my first viewing of Kjaer. I wasn’t overly impressed though a World Cup is no real barometer on judging the quality of a player. In the future he may be among the top elite defenders but with two young defenders already at the club in Smalling and Evans is a further young defender required? One of the three is likely to miss out and therefore Kjaer is an unnecessary signing in my opinion.
Vidic has to remain for at least one further season even his transfer value drops. It will allow Evans and especially Smalling a further season’s development. Vidic would still command a transfer fee of £15m-£20m next summer.
Should Ferdinand retire from International football?
Before suffering regular injuries Ferdinand apparently wanted to emulate Maldini by playing top level football into his mid 30’s. With his recent injury troubles does Ferdinand still wish to play in his mid 30’s? He has plenty of interests outside of football and I guess his decision will be based on the value he places on playing for his country? Ferdinand could follow Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes by retiring from International football at a relatively early age. The pair are prime examples of players retiring early to extend their playing career. With his recent injury problems Rio perhaps only has a maximum of two years left of top level football, the smart choice would be to retire from International football.
Let’s hope Ferdinand makes a speedy recovery.