Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic was left with a nine month lay-off in December 2011 after injury against FC Basel.
And the 31-year-old was sorely missed throughout the remainder of the Premier League season and left many Manchester United fans feeling that had he been available; they wouldn’t have been pipped for the title by their noisy neighbours.
Results like the, ultimately critical, 4-4 draw against Everton may have ended differently.
The Manchester United skipper struggled to keep fit upon his return, and was plagued with injury throughout his returning months. This led many United fans and pundits to wonder whether he could recapture his best form and once again be one of the world’s leading centre-backs.
However, since reclaiming a regular starting position in the team, Vidic has been instrumental in Manchester United’s recent success and with eye catching performances such as the one in the second leg versus Real Madrid - he has proven his critics wrong and cemented his place as one of the games finest centre-backs once again.
And with David de Gea keeping clean sheet after clean sheet and looking a far more confident goalkeeper in recent months, perhaps the return of Vidic could be a contributing factor to the eradication of the keeper’s heavily publicised errors he made in his early Manchester United career.
The Red Devils recent defensive stability has to be accredited to their skipper, whose experience has provided a much needed steady hand for some of their current young defenders such as Rafael, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
His influence cannot be underestimated - his desire to work for the team and quite literally put his head on the line has been pivotal to Manchester United’s success since his move from Spartak Moscow back in January 2006.
His fearsome reputation and physical style of play have made him a nightmare for pretty much every striker he has come up against in his seven year tenure at Manchester United.
One thing’s for sure, since Vidic’s return, this current United team look a much more fearsome opposition than they did early on in the season and the 15 point gap at the top of the table proves just what a difference he has made.
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