Our definitive countdown of the best players of 2010-11 continues with the Manchester United captain, who had another great year in defence
For many fans of the game, Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic is currently the best defender in world football and, in coming in at No. 6 in this year’s Goal.com 50 standings, he lives up to that billing as he is the highest-placed of all those in his position.
Defenders find it extremely difficult to pick up individual accolades, awards and recognition. Strikers regularly hog the headlines and spotlight with their goalscoring exploits and midfielders can easily catch the eye with their flair and creative talents.
Even goalkeepers are more recognised as eye-catching saves or timely interventions can decide the outcome of a match on any given basis, while a run of clean sheets will also attract individual attention for the player between the sticks.
"Vidic had the biggest impact on us over the season - that is why we have been so solid at the back. He is one of the world's best central defenders. To be able to learn my trade next to him is invaluable."
- Chris Smalling
Much of the defender’s work is unseen or, to the naked eye, unattractive. Whether it is tight marking, good positional play, outstanding organisation or a strong tackle – it is certainly tougher for a stopper to find the limelight even if he is ticking all the requirements demanded from the position.
The fact, then, that Vidic was in the running for a number of major awards yet again after the 2010-11 campaign, speaks volumes for his ability. He narrowly missed out on the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award, but was again named in the Team of the Season, and came out on top in the Barclays Player of the Year award, decided by a panel of experts.
|MOMENT OF THE SEASON
MAN UTD 2-1 CHELSEA
|Vidic showed he can do more than just defend as he scores a crucial headed goal to help his side on the way to victory over Chelsea at Old Trafford in May - a match that decided the outcome of the Premier League title.|
As a defender, Vidic is as uncompromising as they come. While a number of modern defenders may be technically gifted, able to bring the ball out of defence or be blessed with a rapid turn of pace, the United captain represents a blast from the past.
Extremely strong and disciplined, Vidic is a no-nonsense defender. As reliable as they come, he has mastered the fundamentals, be it tackling, positioning, marking or heading, and it is rare to see a forward get the better of him, while his influence and leadership skills have also come to the fore since he was named captain.
For many, the 2010-11 United team was an uninspiring one and in truth, the Red Devils did lack flair over parts of the season, having to grind out a number of results along the way. Still, though, they achieved enormous success by winning the Premier League and reaching the Champions League final.
In the league they conceded less than a goal a game yet again, and the re-emergence of the old partnership between Vidic and Rio Ferdinand in central defence – two players who complement one another superbly - was pivotal in the important games towards the end of the season. The pair’s experience guided United through any difficult moments, onto league glory, and then eventually to the Wembley final.
|"Extremely strong and disciplined, Vidic is a no-nonsense defender. As reliable as they come, he has mastered the fundamentals, be it tackling, positioning, marking or heading, and it is rare to see a forward get the better of him."|
Vidic was a near ever-present at the back, his durability and importance to the Red Devils highlighted by the 47 appearances – all starts - he made overall, 35 of which came in the Premier League.
Now 29, he is coming into what are perceived as a defender’s peak years at the top of his game and with a wealth of experience and success behind him. The Serbian looks set to be the rock which United continue to build their next team around, over the end of the Sir Alex Ferguson era and beyond.