Man Utd Focus – Vidic compounds Ferguson’s ever-increasing defensive crisis

Manchester United’s defensive crisis deepened this week with the confirmation that club captain Nemanja Vidic will be sidelined for two months due to surgery. The Serbian was left out of Sunday’s victory at Anfield after complaining of tightness in his knee, and following subsequent examination it was deemed necessary for a meniscus operation to be performed. This leaves Sir Alex Ferguson down to the bare bones in the centre of defence.

The manager will also be concerned that it is the same knee that caused Vidic to miss five months of the previous season after rupturing his cruciate ligament against Basle in a Champions League fixture last December. The 30-year-old regained his fitness for the inception of the new campaign, and the signs were promising that the once-impenetrable partnership with Rio Ferdinand could be rekindled at a time when United’s backline has been uncharacteristically poor.

Now, however, the Old Trafford defence is just one more injury away from decimation. Should Ferdinand or Jonny Evans – himself only recently returned from ankle surgery over the summer – be ruled out, Ferguson will be forced into a difficult decision regarding his centre-half pairing.

With Phil Jones out for another eight weeks in the wake of knee surgery, and Chris Smalling yet to return to training after a metatarsal break, Michael Carrick has already deputised at the back twice this season, and is generally fairly comfortable in doing so. This however weakens United’s midfield, which itself has been the subject of criticism already in the new campaign. Alexander B

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