With Nemanja Vidic again missing from United duty due to injury, should the club's fans get used to his absence?
Following the announcement that Nemanja Vidic would miss the start of Manchester United’s pre-season tour with sciatica, fans would have been forgiven for thinking “not again”.
The club captain began his Old Trafford career in sparkling form, making 213 starts in his first five full seasons. In short, he was one of the first names on the team-sheet, and he could invariably be called upon.
That was until two serious knee injuries robbed him of much of the last two campaigns. But with a new season comes new hope – that his injury concerns are behind him and that he can re-form an outstanding defensive partnership with Rio Ferdinand.
And yet his latest absence poses one question above all others – should United fans get used to life without Vidic? For as long as he remains at the club, will he be injured more often than he is available?
Sciatica is not a serious problem in itself. It is a set of symptoms, most notably pain, caused by compression or irritation of one of five spinal nerve roots. But the sciatica may be a signpost to something bigger.
Found as it is in the back or the legs, it is a symptom of a bigger issue. Quite simply, diagnosing sciatica isn’t diagnosing the problem.
So if there is a bigger concern – whether linked with Vidic’s troublesome knees or the effect of something else altogether – no wonder David Moyes is said to be considering a move for Ezequiel Garay.
Fully fit and match-ready, the 31-year-old Serbian centre-back is one of the best in the game. But with every new headline declaring his absence from this game or that, he draws closer if not to the exit then certainly to the list of those Moyes cannot build a team around, those he cannot call upon week in, week out.
Reports claim Vidic will still join his teammates later on the tour. But only just into his 30s, it already appears his body is getting the better of him.
Perhaps not to the extent of someone like Ledley King, but certainly enough for the likes of Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling to have the chance to stake a claim for a starting birth even when their captain is fit.
Have Manchester United fans seen the last of Vidic at his best?
image: © nasmac