Vida's piece on Rio from UTD website

Fracture90

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in this part, Nemanja gives his insight on his move to UTD and a formidable partnership he had with Ferdinand. The best CB pairing in EPL history.

https://www.manutd.com/en/news/detail/utd-unscripted-vidic-on-ferdinand-proud-to-be-half-of-a-pair


I have been asked before if it annoys me to be mentioned alongside Rio Ferdinand so much, rather than just as an individual.
For me, it’s the opposite; I’m proud to be talked about as half of our partnership. I played with a lot of great players and he is definitely the best defender I ever played with.

I was aware of Rio a long time before I came to play alongside him. When I was growing up as a young footballer, first as a striker, then a winger, eventually I started playing a defender when I was 13 years old. In Serbia we watched a lot of Italian football, and at that time Parma had Fabio Cannavaro and Lilian Thuram, while AC Milan had Paolo Maldini who was obviously an icon for a lot of generations that came through after him. Those were the players that I looked to at the time. After that, I looked more to the forwards. Football is played for the goals. After those three defenders in my early ages, I was watching more attackers, probably because I was a defender, thinking about what I would do against these players if I played against them. That was my way of thinking.

Then I watched Rio when he was at Leeds. When I was young I always watched the teams that didn’t always have a chance of winning the title, so I was attracted to new teams who were doing well. At that time Leeds had a great team with Kewell, Bowyer, Woodgate and this guy Ferdinand. He was only young then, but he was already recognisable, not just by myself but around the world, as one of the future defenders who was going to achieve greatness. Maldini had inspired the previous generation of defenders; Rio was the leader of a new generation who promised that defenders were still a big part of winning trophies.

When I came to United in January 2006, Rio was already at the club. At that time, you had two centre-back spots in the team and I think everyone knew that one of them belonged to Rio. He was the one player you knew would play. He already had a few years at the top level, he had great ability, I would say he was a leader at that time, the leader of the defence. Wes Brown, Mikael Silvestre and myself, we three were vying for that one position in defence. That was my feeling when I first arrived. We know in England that you play 60 games a season, so all three of us knew we would have a certain amount of games to prove our abilities.
When I signed, Ferguson didn’t say at that time that he wanted to partner me with Rio, but he was clear that he was counting on me, expecting me to adapt fast and do what I do the best. In the beginning it wasn’t like everything was going really smoothly for me, but after five or six months I started performing on a level that everyone at the club was expecting from me.

Mikael was a France international, Wes was a great player but as we all know he was so unlucky with injuries, especially earlier in his career. He could also play different positions, as we saw in 2007/08 when he was at right-back and played a big part in us winning the Champions League. I believe at the time I joined, the boss wasn’t thinking of me and Rio as a great combination, he just wanted to have four central defenders he could switch, and that would play a big part in developing a strong defence. It’s not just two players because as we know in the Premier League, there are so many injuries.

When I got to train with Rio, I could see all the attributes which made him so good. He was very fast, strong and technically one of the best defenders of the time. The main strengths for him are the speed, reading of the game and ability on the ball. I think those are his biggest abilities, but in general, he was just an all-round top player. He had everything. Maybe most important of all, maybe the main thing about him, was his love for football, and he showed that every day in training when he stayed doing extra work. He would do anything and everything that helped him to be better than he had been the previous day, and I liked that about him; I like that mentality.

He was also a really good guy, I quickly discovered. And a busy guy! He always has been, but in a good way. He was always interested in many things; music, investing… his mind is always working. I like that about him because I could talk with him about different things. I have to say also that he helped me when I came. He was the first one who gave me a hand, showing me around the place. Especially in the first few months, he helped me to settle and I think it was then that our partnership began because I could see straight away that this was a guy I could trust. At the end of the day we are different characters, if you look at us, but we got on well together. I think that difference we maybe had in our way of viewing things actually helped us complement each other.

We worked on our relationship on the pitch. We got on well together off the pitch as well, which was to our benefit, because that trust was nurtured and became rock solid. I think it’s important for defenders that you trust your team-mate playing next to you, especially when you’re a central defender because I think those two are the defenders who really depend on each other. I think we knew that from the beginning, we worked on our relationship and that’s maybe why we were successful.
I can’t name a specific point or a specific game when we played and both thought: ‘Right, now we are a partnership’, because it was more gradual than that. I think when we started realising that was actually in training when we found that we were talking all the time. It was when we started talking in training, about what he thinks in a certain situation, what I think in a certain situation. I remember one 11 v 11 training game in a small area, a certain situation happened which we didn’t deal with well, so straight afterwards I asked him: “What do you think about that?” Then I told him what I thought, and then I tried to understand what his view was, he looked at what my view was, what he thought I should do in that situation, whether to help him and cover him or the opposite: for him to cover my back.

When we started talking like that, then we started making changes and that’s when we started thinking: Okay, this will work.

That’s when we started to see improvements. We started defending each other, we knew what we had to do in certain situations and obviously in the beginning we had to talk all the time, but it became natural as we played so long together. That’s when we realised: this is the way to do it. Talk. Speak. Express ourselves. In situations, decide what we can do. It started in training, not from the games. Obviously in the games you see that working and you build on that.

Over time, people would say that we both had certain roles, like I was the tough guy and Rio was the silky player, and I don’t mind that. Definitely not. People see you how they see you. For me, it was most important that we were winning and playing well, so if somebody gives you a compliment that you are this way or that way, I don’t care. I’m not too bothered what people think, generally. Obviously if someone is booing you or saying bad things, I would not like that, but as long as people have a good opinion about me and what I did for United in my career, if they see it that way, I’m happy with that.

What I would say about Rio is that he could switch his game to do whatever was needed. As he might say, it wasn’t his cup of tea to take the ball on in the air and head it clear - maybe that was more my cup of tea! But he could do whatever the situation needed. I remember going to games like Stoke away, when we needed to head the ball for 90 minutes, needed to spend all day jumping and being physical and he would do it well.
So much is said about the partnership Rio and I had, but I have to mention the role that Edwin played in our relationship. He was a big part of it. He was experienced, really good on the ball and he was always there as well. He could see the whole pitch and he was there to help. If I didn’t see something or Rio didn’t see something, he was there to help. What’s important with Ed, he was 34 or 35 when he came to United, I think, so he already had so much experience. What’s important for us as defenders is to trust your goalkeeper, and we trusted Ed. It doesn’t matter where the player is shooting from. If he’s outside the box, you’re not worried that much. You let him shoot because you know Ed will cover that. We worked on that too and Ed was good at it, especially in the beginning when we started. Those experienced players give you that calmness that you need in certain situations and Ed was great at it.

Communication and calmness was a huge part of Ed’s game. He would always put himself in the position where he had to be. He really was great at that. With the size of him, if he put himself in a good position then it’s very difficult to score against him. He’s not a small goalkeeper who’s going to fly two metres to keep out shots in the corner – he did do that sometimes, in the Champions League especially – but almost all the time he’s the person who’s going to be in the right position at the right time. He was a big part. A lot of people forget how good he was and how important he was for our team at that time, and especially for me and Rio.

I still remember, actually, the run we had in 2008/09, where we didn’t concede a goal for 14 Premier League games in a row. I think me and Edwin were the only players who played every game of that run. People were talking about records, and I think maybe Fergie was sick of that, so when we had a game against Blackburn at Old Trafford, he said to me and Ed: “Guys, bench.” I still clearly remember sitting there when Blackburn scored and the run ended that day!
It was a great record to have, but it isn’t just about getting a record; it’s about giving belief to yourself and to the players you play with. When we started winning those matches, we had the five or six players at the back all defending more than the front players because you understand that if you keep the 0-0 for the first half, you know that the players you have upfront, with the ability of Wayne Rooney, Crisitano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs, Robin Van Persie, Berba ,Tevez...you have great players upfront at that time, so you know that if you keep your part of the job, keep a clean sheet, you know you have a big chance of winning the game. That’s helping the forwards too, knowing that they can be relaxed. They can think: ‘If we score one or two goals then we win the match, because the defence does not concede.’ So it goes both directions: we know the attackers will score in every game; the attackers know we will probably keep a clean sheet. It keeps it all functioning well. That’s what this record gives you: belief. Winning the trophies gives you the belief that you can do it again. This record, these titles, they’re important. The first title we won after four years, 2006/07, we started to believe: now we can win it again. We won it the next season plus the Champions League, and it just went from there. That’s what you need, that belief. That’s what you get from winning trophies and breaking records.

Me and Rio played so many games together, but it’s the most important ones that you remember, like winning the Premier League at Wigan and Blackburn, and definitely the Champions League final against Chelsea in Moscow. Any game you secure a trophy is a special one, so the Champions League final stands out. A lot of great players didn’t get the chance to lift that trophy, so in terms of that I would say the Champions League is probably the most memorable game I had with Rio.

I had forgotten, actually, until he said recently, but I had to stop Rio crying after we won the trophy! We are different in many ways! Rio obviously puts so much hard work into everything he does, and he had this dream to win the Champions League. I remember beforehand he just kept saying: “We have to win, we have to win, we have to win.” It was something he dreamed of and pushed for. When we won it, of course he was emotional. Remember the penalty shootout, that could have gone either way as well… but I have a general feeling like if you won something you should be happy, not crying. I just think that way. I never cried when I’m happy. He’s an emotional guy. They were just small tears, nothing major. I’d forgotten about that reaction, but it was just a moment.
I was very fortunate to play with so many great players at United, with such fantastic team spirit and respect for each other, even though we were from so many different countries and even different generations. With Rio, I had a special bond. We are still in touch now, even though we are both retired from playing and living in different countries. Again, we are different because he likes to text, I like to talk on the phone, so that’s the issue there! It has to be a few messages and a bit of talking on the phone. We compromise for each other. Sometimes he’ll call, sometimes I’ll text him. That’s how it goes.

Obviously he has been through some major stuff in his personal life in recent years; not just him but the whole family too. After everything that happened to him, losing his wife and his mother so close together – and they were both great women – I’m just so proud for the way he has handled such a difficult period.

I am lucky to have known him for so long and to have shared so many memories with him. There would always be Rio, there would always be Vidic, but I think without Rio and Vidic together, we wouldn’t have achieved everything that we achieved in the game. The same went for Carvalho and Terry, a great partnership and, if you look at the other teams, Carragher had a great partnership with Sami Hyypia and he struggled to maybe find as good a partner after Hyypia left.

I think that kind of partnership is what allows defenders to give the best of themselves: when the two parts complement each other. Those are the partnerships that allow you to achieve great things in a team. In that sense, there’s no Rio without Vidic, no Vidic without Rio, so it doesn’t annoy me at all to be talked about as half of a partnership.

I’m only proud of what we achieved together.
 

Solius

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Good read!

I’m still a little bit sour at how he basically ditched us mid-season as soon as things got a bit shit. He was our captain too.
 

Jackal981

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Good read!

I’m still a little bit sour at how he basically ditched us mid-season as soon as things got a bit shit. He was our captain too.
Thats what happened when incompetent idiot comes in and given 6 years contract.
 

United58

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Love these pieces, great insight into the parts of the game you don't see much of.

Vidic started as a striker and winger?!
 

Neil_Buchanan

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Good read, I am enjoying these recent united articles from ex players. The Blomqvist one was a good read also.

I wish both Vidic and Rio had retired here, it was sad seeing them play elsewhere particularly Rio and his QPR shit show. Had the squad been properly managed we would have been less reliant on them towards the end and they could have been replaced properly then faded out slowly.
 

United58

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That bits surprises me too.
I recall Rio too started as striker? and then moved to midfielder?
Yeah I knew about him being a midfielder, he was always very good on the ball. We even had him in there a few times in 2005/06!

Other weird ones are De Gea as a striker and Evra as a striker (though he was always good on the ball, his shooting was awful! bar the Bayern goal :drool:)
 

Fracture90

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I personally love the fact that both Rio and Vida give credit to VDS, who was a huge part as to why those two and the whole defense did so well for us during those years.
 

Andersonson

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Vida is one of the best centre back we've had in modern times and Rio is maybe the best.

That relationship was unique. I really miss them. They matched perfectly
 

Zlatan 7

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Thanks again, I enjoyed reading the Rio piece and now this, they’re great.

shows how much of a great team We had back then, the way they are now still friends and how high they held Van der sar and how they were each a vital cog in the trio.

I know it’s both useless And pointless to compare but I can’t help looking at our exsisting trio there and think it falls pitifully short.
 

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I personally love the fact that both Rio and Vida give credit to VDS, who was a huge part as to why those two and the whole defense did so well for us during those years.
Agreed, they valued VDS's influences and support at the back.

I also like how they emphasize "confidence" and "belief" they felt with VDS and teammates. That's important.

Personally I like how they are very direct with each other (putting their ego aside) and put in the extra work into improving themselves by good communication all to improve their chemistry. There is also hints of "friendly rivalry" as in "good competitive spirit" they had with each other to drive themselves to always be in top form and improving.

:devil:Absolutely top mentality there!
 

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The part about trusting your keeper... there's no doubt De Gea causes his CB's anguish with his poorness on crosses and set pieces.
 

POF

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The part about trusting your keeper... there's no doubt De Gea causes his CB's anguish with his poorness on crosses and set pieces.
You could tell the difference when Kuszczak played. Vidic would run back on the line whenever he came for a cross!

What a defender he was. He added that hard edge to the defence that transformed the defence from error prone and soft to a formidable unit.

It's something they've never got back since he's left.

He was the Roy Keane of the defence. Inspirational leader who made everyone around him better and his departure left a hole that the club is really struggling to fill.
 

Jackal981

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You could tell the difference when Kuszczak played. Vidic would run back on the line whenever he came for a cross!

What a defender he was. He added that hard edge to the defence that transformed the defence from error prone and soft to a formidable unit.

It's something they've never got back since he's left.

He was the Roy Keane of the defence. Inspirational leader who made everyone around him better and his departure left a hole that the club is really struggling to fill.
Oh what would I give to get someone like him in the squad now. At his prime he’s easily worth 100m in current market. We took them for granted tbh
 

Big Ben Foster

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Great read. The article emphasizes his partnership with Rio, but I actually thought the bit on van der Sar and the importance of trusting your keeper was the most interesting part of the interview.
 

fps

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Love these pieces, great insight into the parts of the game you don't see much of.

Vidic started as a striker and winger?!
Crazy. I guess those who are going to go on and make it as footballers are generally so far ahead of everyone else in the game that they can play anywhere and be epic. Then they get hothoused with the best and there’s a new process where they may have to be humble and move to a new position.

A lovely read, lovely comments about Rio after everything he’s been through recently.
 

Sandikan

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Good read!

I’m still a little bit sour at how he basically ditched us mid-season as soon as things got a bit shit. He was our captain too.
Evra went a bit earlier than he could have too perhaps.
But I think all bets are off when you have clowns managing the club.
 

Thiagoal

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Thanks again, I enjoyed reading the Rio piece and now this, they’re great.

shows how much of a great team We had back then, the way they are now still friends and how high they held Van der sar and how they were each a vital cog in the trio.

I know it’s both useless And pointless to compare but I can’t help looking at our exsisting trio there and think it falls pitifully short.
Oh yeah, Lindelof and Maguire are light years away from Rio and Vidic! However, if they were still playing today they’d be one and two in the world for ability so anyone bar maybe VVD would fall pitifully short
 

davidmichael

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Good read!

I’m still a little bit sour at how he basically ditched us mid-season as soon as things got a bit shit. He was our captain too.
Thing is the injuries had really got hold of Vidic by the time he left and I think he knew himself he couldn’t play at the level needed in the Premier League whereas Serie A was much easier on him, that said he barely played much in his two seasons at Inter if memory serves me right.
 
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I miss Rio. Ultimate defender. I rate only Maldini above him. Maybe...
Wow. I think the drugs test sours his legacy somewhat, and as a result there are a few more players I would put above him, Cannavaro and Nesta for sure - and most likely even without the 9 month ban.

Best British Centre back in my lifetime (40 ish years). We have had some fantastic players, Terry. Campbell and Adams but none come close to Rio.
 

Revan

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Thing is the injuries had really got hold of Vidic by the time he left and I think he knew himself he couldn’t play at the level needed in the Premier League whereas Serie A was much easier on him, that said he barely played much in his two seasons at Inter if memory serves me right.
He played a lot in his first season there. I believe that he lost his place, but got it back. Then he got injured and didn't play at all on his second season, before retiring mid-season.

He was done when he left United. In fact, he was done as a top player after his big injury at the beginning of 2011-2012. Which was a shame considering that his previous season was his best ever at United.

And as anyone says, this is the best center-back duo in English football. Terry and Carvalho is probably the closest rival but not very close. At their best, both of Vidic and Rio had a genuine claim for the best CB role in the world. We might have had another UCL trophy if we had that partnership for the Milan matches.
 

POF

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Over time I think Vidic's impact at United is getting overlooked. He joined in 2006 and established himself in the 2006/07 season. United won the next 3 league titles. Lost the one after when he missed a lot of games and won it the season after when he returned to full fitness.

The Basel injury was a cruel blow and he certainly wasn't as good after that. Still the best defender at the club by a long long way but not the defensive colossus he was previously.

There are only 3 players who have won Premier League player of the season twice. Henry, Ronaldo and Vidic. In Premier League history, that is the level he should be remembered.
 

RedDevil@84

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Good read!

I’m still a little bit sour at how he basically ditched us mid-season as soon as things got a bit shit. He was our captain too.
This for me too.
Vida was for me the model captain for years and when things went south, he immediately packed. Which was disappointing in many ways.
 

VeevaVee

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I personally love the fact that both Rio and Vida give credit to VDS, who was a huge part as to why those two and the whole defense did so well for us during those years.
The defence and keeper really is a team within a team. So important for them to be on the same wavelength.
 

VeevaVee

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There are only 3 players who have won Premier League player of the season twice. Henry, Ronaldo and Vidic. In Premier League history, that is the level he should be remembered.
This is a huge point. Be interested to know how many defenders have won it (although not interested enough to find out myself :lol:)
 
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POF

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This is a huge point. Be interested to know how many defenders have one it (although not interested enough to find out myself :lol:)
Just Kompany and Van Dijk. Once each. Schmeichel won it once too.
 

Jam

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This for me too.
Vida was for me the model captain for years and when things went south, he immediately packed. Which was disappointing in many ways.
I have no bitter feelings to him leaving, his body was in bits and far below the level he used to be at. It’s better to bow out like that than a long slow demise only keeping his place on reputation. He knew he needed to take a step down.

Look at what abuse Rooney got.
 

championo

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I personally love the fact that both Rio and Vida give credit to VDS, who was a huge part as to why those two and the whole defense did so well for us during those years.
What we miss the most from VDS is the coming out for corners and freekicks. De Gea just stand there, that part of him never developed. Good read, love the throwback memories. I remember how I thought Evra and Vidic were shite in their first few months. I thought mid season acquisition were a gamble.
 

criticalanalysis

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He was the Roy Keane of the defence. Inspirational leader who made everyone around him better and his departure left a hole that the club is really struggling to fill.
I agree. That's such an obvious comparison but I've never thought of it that way before.

To me Vidic was simply the best defender, who reached a higher peak, consistency and did 'more'/was more effective on an indiviual level in relation to his influence on the team. Of course I'm not detracting from Ferdinand's performance, who was the better footballer and more than did his part.

But it's like Keane's role compared to Scholes. We wax lyrical about latter justifably but Keane was a force of nature, who's 'influence' and capacity felt more.

We may be seeing something similar to Bruno and Pogba.

Anyways weird post over. Sigh I miss the Serb.
 

RedDevil@84

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I have no bitter feelings to him leaving, his body was in bits and far below the level he used to be at. It’s better to bow out like that than a long slow demise only keeping his place on reputation. He knew he needed to take a step down.

Look at what abuse Rooney got.
Though that is true, it would have felt normal if he made a deal at end of season and left. But he kinda made a deal mid-season and seemed like jumping the ship, trying to get as far away as he could from Moyes