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Manchester United will struggle to replace Nemanja Vidic

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With the impending exit of perhaps Manchester United's greatest ever centre half at the end of the season, a colossal void is soon to be filled.

It's very much widespread opinion that Nemanja Vidic does not carry the same presence he once offered.

He is no longer half of one of the most formidable defensive partnerships where he once complemented Rio Ferdinand as well as fish and chips.

He looks how a centre-back should look: crooked nose and crazy eyes. He plays like a centre-back should too: with a warrior's leadership. I know I would feel much better on a battlefield with Nemanja Vidic beside me. 

Despite his ability being on a natural decline, there's definitely a valid argument that the Serbian could still do a job for Manchester United.

At the age of 32, I suspect he has some years left in the tank, albeit not operating at the remarkable level from 2006-09, where he helped United win three successive Premier League trophies and a Champions League trophy. 

The pace of the Premier League has increased since Vidic joined the club back in 2005. The emphasis has now shifted even more to the athletic abilities of players. Pace is a commodity that cannot be relinquished.

You only have to look as far as Eden Hazard, Sergio Aguero and Daniel Sturridge to comprehend how some of the league's most dangerous players utilise this attribute to terrorise defences, and how the game has adapted since Vidic arrived. 

Sir Alex Ferguson talks about Vidic being more comfortable at defending what's in front of him, something he acknowledges is happening less and less in the modern age as defences are typically pressed higher. 

There should be no dispute though about his athleticism, Vidic possesses a leap, more evidently so in his prime, that was closer to that of a basketball player than of a footballer. His dominance in the air is still rarely ousted. 

The one recurring nightmare that has plagued Vidic is that of Fernando Torres. No-one could unease the Serbian quite like Torres could.

This does serve to illustrate my point that pace has been Vidic's only momentary weakness because Torres would use that burst of acceleration he once possessed to breeze past Vidic. More often than not, Vidic was given an early bath on these occasions.  

Depending on how you interpret Vidic's desire for new pastures, it's strange that Moyes has put up so little of a fight for a defender he described earlier this season as the best he has worked with.

You could say Vidic's poor defensive header put Manchester United in the lurch and set up Fulham's late equaliser at Old Trafford on Sunday. Maybe that's a sign of a dwindling influence. However, Manchester United's current shortcomings seem to be a combination of errors and dysfunction. The game should have been won with the lion's share of possession and staggering amount of crosses that were flung so aimlessly into the box.

It's entirely possible Vidic doesn't want to go down with a sinking ship and he feels it's best to disembark now.

It's disappointing to see such an important figure leave his club in a time of trouble but the silver lining is that it gives Moyes another opportunity to put his mark on this Manchester United team by choosing who will fill this massive warrior shaped hole.

Although it may not seem beneficial, the removal of such a senior figure possibly removes that nostalgic whiff of Sir Alex Ferguson and creates room for David Moyes to stamp an impression. 

The door is now open until the end of the season for Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones to stake a claim for a regular starting berth.

Evans has improved with each season, but whether he is good enough to effectively organise a back-line remains to be seen. His better moments are apparent when he steps out of his position to win the ball higher up the pitch. 

Once touted the next formidable English centre-back partnership, Smalling and Jones have potential. Chris Smalling has certainly showed glimpses, when the teams back has been against the wall, that he can offer some solid defensive work.

The debate remains as to whether his late introduction to top flight football will hinder his progress as he still shows signs of being unpolished.

Phil Jones is as brave as they come and you would hope with maturity he will be able to recognise the difference between bravery and stupidity. Jones definitely has talent and if Moyes gives him the correct guidance and a prominent run at centre-back he can shine.

We've seen Jones rampage around the midfield, sometimes like a headless chicken, but nevertheless, do a job on the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo at the Bernabeu- no small feat for a player whose natural position is in defence.

Moyes recently announced that Vidic's successor could already be at the club and it's a proposition that is plausible. It's now down to the current contenders to put a marker down for next season. If he can establish a partnership that echoes similarities to the connection of a Bruce-Pallister or Ferdinand-Vidic then he can build his success from there. 

We're led to believe defensive reinforcements are imminent over the summer, so the answer to replacing Manchester United's captain may become evident after the deals have been done. Replacing massive players is never easy and it appears David Moyes has now got even more on his plate. 

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Topics:
Premier League
Manchester United
Nemanja Vidic
Football

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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