The sight of Fernando Torres turning Nemanja Vidic at Old Trafford last season is one that has stuck in the minds of United fans, Vidic himself and each and every football pundit using it to show relative weakness in the Serbian’s game.
Vidic was one of the favourites to be crowned footballer of the year following a fantastic campaign last season, but all that was forgotten following one torrid afternoon. It was not only the form of the United centre-half which suffered following the humiliation by the hands of the old enemy with United going on to lose their next Premier League match stumbling over the line as eventual Champions. Considering the nature of the Premier League title race and the visit of Chelsea looming on the horizon a similar outcome to last season could prove catastrophic. United can ill afford another similar slip-up against a Liverpool side in constant turmoil who know that there is nothing like a win over an arch enemy to ease the pain. Vidic himself could again prove decisive in this encounter with the United fans hoping that he can again put in the kind of performance which kept Torres quiet in the early part of his Liverpool career against United. Prior to his exploits in last season’s encounter and his devastation of the United back line at Anfield earlier this season the Spaniard had struggled for form against Vidic and Rio Ferdinand in his previous encounters. It is this domination which will be required from United’s centre-halves if they are to come out victorious.
Is has been a stuttering campaign for both Vidic and Ferdinand who have both struggled with both fitness and form but who currently seem to be getting some consistency back in their games, with Vidic especially looking back to his imperious best in United’s last encounters. Liverpool are not a team to swing crosses into the box which would suit the needs of the Serbian but are much more likely to slide balls in between Vidic and Ferdinand looking to stretch them. The biggest weakness in Vidic’s game is that he struggles when one-on-one with a pacy striker, something which was again highlighted in the early encounters of last month’s Carling Cup final. Liverpool will look to expose this weakness and isolate the Serbian. If the United back four can move as a unit and close all possible gaps in between them then they stand a huge chance of coming out on top in this encounter. Prior to the Liverpool encounter all eyes will be firmly placed on Friday’s draw for the Champions League quarter and semi finals. The format for the draw is completely open, so it is possible that United could be drawn against Arsenal and likely that they may be pitted against one of the big boys such as Barcelona or Bayern Munich. Looking at the teams remaining in the competition Barcelona is clearly the biggest threat to United with possibly the ideal final being a repeat of last year.
As a club, United are not only challenging on two fronts in terms of trophies there is still much of a challenge continuing of the pitch in terms of the ownership of the club. United have signed three more sponsorship deals in the last week with MTN, Telekom Malaysia and Turkish Airlines all joining the United brand. These deals are all aimed clearly at widening the base of the sponsorship utilising the huge fan base across these countries. Many fans a little closer to home feel that the club is less concerned with their plight considering the huge sums of debt underlying the current ownership of the club. This, however, could also be experiencing a change as – according to reports – the Glazer family are considering more refinancing of the club to rid themselves of their huge debts from their Payment in Kind (PIK) loans in a move to try and cut down the proposed bid for the club by the consortium, the Red Knights.
Whether this restructuring will bring about the desired financial effect is questionable but it certainly adds another element to what could well prove a defining few days in the fortunes of Manchester United both on and off the pitch.
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