Ryan Giggs’ first game as Manchester United manager created a sense of intrigue and promise around Old Trafford, with the Red Devils recording a comprehensive score-line against their weekend opponents, Norwich City.
However, we are yet to witness a complete break from the past. In his first ever starting-line up, Giggs opted to retain the club’s old guard, selecting a surprise centre-back pairing of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
The former in particular excelled in his side’s victory over the Canaries, with his impressive performance largely responsible for the team’s clean sheet. Of course, this was against Norwich, who have struggled for the most-part of the season, but United haven’t exactly excelled at the back during the last ten months.
Vidic’s stats from Saturday’s match paint a complete picture. The Serbian gave his all throughout 90 minutes and, had it not been for Rooney’s heroics in attack, he would have received the afternoon’s man-of-the-match award.
In truly epic fashion, he contributed 24 individual defensive actions – more than double that of his closest teammate, Patrice Evra - completing an impressive 19 clearances, whilst claiming a further five interceptions. He proved resistant to Norwich’s advances from start to finish.
|Team||Position||Clearances||Interceptions||Goals Conceded||Minutes Played|
|Nemanja Vidic||Man Utd||DF||19||5||0||90|
His experience and ability to read the game will be vital in his final years as a player as the natural process of aging has clearly had an impact on his pace and general athleticism. On Saturday he found success in just one tackle, he also conceded three fouls.
|Tackle Completion (%)||Fouls Conceded|
However, he continues to provide a calm and collected balance to the defence. He is assertive as well as composed in possession. He attempted 50 passes in total against Norwich – 39 of which were forward - finding a team mate 90% of the time.
|Total Passes||Total Pass Accuracy (%)|
Vidic has always been prolific in the air and this match proved no different. Winning 12 of 12 attempted headers he was able to assert his dominance in both defence and attack. He was ultimately unlucky not to score from a second half corner – firing just over the bar.
|Aerial Won||Aerial Lost|
The Serbian is now playing his final few games as a United player - having agreed a move to Serie A with Inter Milan next season – and after eight years with the club, he will be dearly missed. He has been the stalwart of the Red Devil’s defence for many-a-season, captaining the side to success in a multitude of competitions.
Yesterday’s display provided a startling reminder of just how hard he will be to replace during the upcoming transfer window.