Nemanja Vidic has just walked off with the Barclays Player of the Year award for 2010/11. I am a little bemused by this decision; firstly for the fact he didn’t even win Manchester Utd’s own player of season award and secondly I question whether he is really that good?
My real issue with Nemanja Vidic and the plaudits he has been receiving recently is his inclusion in the Premier League Team of the Decade partnering John Terry at centre half. I wonder, are we right in judging the Serbian international to be one of the two best centre halves to have graced the Premier League since 2000?
Suddenly I have images of Fernando Torres making him look like a Sunday morning footballer at Old Trafford in that 4-1 win for Liverpool, that rugby tackle he performed on Steven Gerrard in the same game and also his fortune in avoiding a red card at West Ham Utd this season also springs to mind. Now I know these are fairly limited examples of Vidic not on his best day, but I fail to be convinced by him whenever I see him play.
Manchester Utd have in recent history had a number of decent players who are susceptible to making errors but are fortunate enough to be surrounded with other good footballers who are able to ‘tidy-up’ others’ mistakes and the error goes unpunished. I would include Nemanja Vidic into this category. So how can he be included in the Team of the Decade?
Nemanja Vidic joined Manchester Utd in January 2006 and has since then made 158 Premier League appearances; that’s approximately 26 league appearances per season and about two thirds of possible fixtures. That’s another issue; surely he hasn’t played enough games to warrant inclusion?
I don’t have an argument with his partner at the centre of defence in John Terry, but has Nemanja Vidic contributed more to the Premier League over the last decade than…
Jamie Carragher (forget Liverpool’s recent poor campaign),
Rio Ferdinand (who since his signing from Leeds Utd in 2002 established himself as one of the best centre halves in the game at one point),
Sol Campbell (forget how he has rather poorly tried to hang on to his career since leaving Portsmouth in 2009)
… Nemanja Vidic player of the year and team of the decade? I really don’t think so. Although I think Manchester Utd may win on Saturday against Barcelona in the Champions’ League Final; I think that will be more about Sir Alex Ferguson’s management skills than Vidic keeping Messi, Villa, Xavi, Iniesta et al at bay.
This weekend saw Manchester Utd cruise to yet another seemingly straightforward victoryin a season which surely is going to end with at least one more piece of silverware to adorn Sir Alex’s mantle. However, once again we are left not discussing the quality of football (from both sides as Wigan were not simply playing a supporting role in this match), but an incident involving England’s talismanic forward Wayne Rooney.
However you dress up the incident, anyone who can see can clearly identify that Rooney on running past James McCarthy (who to be honest should be held up as a great example in terms of his reaction, particularly amidst the trend amongst modern day footballers to hit the ground as if being took out by a sniper at the slightest touch from an opposition player… or even better, follow the school of Bryan Carrasco and grab the opposition’s arm and shove it into your own face), moved his arm to collide with the Wigan player’s head.
Now, I’m not saying that Mark Clatternburg should have sent him off as I genuinely don’t think he saw it (or am I being naive?), and I think the free-kick awarded was an instinctive reaction to a collision and the crowd’s reaction. Maybe if McCarthy had rolled around a little then the outcome may have been different you could speculate.
Now, Sir Alex Ferguson is not a stupid man, indeed, some may say that his comments post match were actually very clever in terms of deflecting away from the severity of the incident, but my honest opinion is that this is not the response the country’s most successful manager should be promoting. I’m sure internally he will have had one of his trademark chats with Rooney and I understand there is a need to protect his players from public vilification, but don’t we all have a collective responsibility to ensure that these sort of actions are eradicated from our game?
Now I know it is a dangerous road to go down to begin to endorse retrospective punishment and ‘trial by television’; precidents have been set for this and the incident involving Ben Thatcher and Pedro Mendessprings to mind. I’m not comparing what happened on Saturday with the horrific challenge undertaken by Thatcher, but it shows that if necessary, the use of television evidence to appropriately punish a player can be a useful addition to governing bodies’ armory.
To claim Rooney’s action was an ‘alledged elbow’ is nothing short of ridiculous. It doesn’t matter that the perpetrator was Wayne Rooney as John Hartson said, the outcome should be to set an example to players and supporters that this kind of behaviour is not acceptable. It doesn’t matter if the referee thought he took appropriate action on the pitch, on a second view on television it clearly wasn’t appropriate.