Nemanja Vidic being substituted off during Manchester United’s 2-1 loss to FC Basel added insult to injury. But, the recently developing news that Vidic is done for the season is even more troubling news.
Vidic is often regarded as one of the world’s best if not the best defender. So, losing him is obviously going to be a significant blow to the squad. But, with the January transfer window approaching, do not expect Sir Alex to go looking for a replacement.
Even with Rio Ferdinand’s dodgy health and old stalwarts John O’Shea and Wes Brown now plying their trade for Sunderland, one can fully expect that Ferguson will rely on the youngsters who have shown so much progress early in the season to start carrying the torch.
Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have been lauded for their abilities at various points throughout the season, even earning national team caps along the way. The two are regarded by many as the future center pairing for England, but they are very much the right now for United.
With both Rafael and Fabio out for three more weeks, Smalling will undoubtedly continue to play at right back with possible spells from Antonio Valencia. Next to him expect Jones and Rio Ferdinand to be pairing up in the middle, but how long will Ferdinand be able to hold up?
And, if given the choice between Jones-Johnny Evans pairing and a Jones-Smalling pairing, expect the latter of the two to emerge, especially against the more talented teams that United will face.
For those saying that January is right around the corner and that Ferguson could easily go out and find a temporary hold over, don’t hold your breath. Ferguson already spent more this summer than in recent history, and being knocked out of the Champions League means that less money will be coming in. Factor in that players often cost more in January and it’s all but certain you won’t see any fresh faces at Old Trafford come February.
Also, Ferguson has already set a precedent for such matters. In previous years he has played a back line that consisted of Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher due to injuries that actually didn’t play terribly. Ferguson’s policy as of late has been one that brings in young talented players for the future and relying on homegrown talents with it being rare he buys a player veteran player who by default must be talented enough to usurp any other potential players at the same position.
That’s not happening in this market, so be ready for plenty of time from Fergie’s fledglings. And if United plan on catching their rivals Manchester City, watch for these kids to not only keep up their performances, but to take their games to another level.
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