Vidic quits Man Utd: a blow for Moyes or start of a new era?
Defender was Ferguson's captain, now Moyes must find his own leader at Old Trafford
NEMANJA VIDIC has announced that he will leave Manchester United at the end of the season, but does his decision represent a vote of no confidence in new manager David Moyes or is it another signal that a new era is about to begin at Old Trafford?
The Serbian centre-back has been with United for eight years and has won 15 trophies since arriving from Spartak Moscow for £7m in January 2006.
But with the departure of Alex Ferguson, the man who brought him to Manchester, and the club highly unlikely to add to its collection of silverware this season, the 32-year-old has announced his decision to leave.
"It's the last year of my contract and I have had eight wonderful years here," he said on Thursday. "My time at this great club will always rank as the best years of my career... However, I have decided that I will move on at the end of this season."
He has ruled out a switch to another English club and now seems likely to head to Italy.
The news is a "blow" for Moyes, says the Daily Mail, which explains that the new Old Trafford boss wanted to keep Vidic on board. It points out that earlier this season Moyes described the defender as "the best I have ever worked with".
"Vidic's decision to pursue a move elsewhere is likely to signal the break-up of Sir Alex Ferguson's final great team at Old Trafford, with Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra expected to be told by manager David Moyes that they can leave the club when their contracts expire at the end of the season," reports the Daily Telegraph.
The club now stands "to lose the two centre backs who formed the bedrock of United's defence for almost a decade", says The Times. It claims the news is unlikely to prompt a rethink over Ferdinand or Evra but adds: "The departure of all three would certainly represent a setback for Moyes, especially as it is uncertain at present whether United will be competing in the Champions League next season."
Nor is the turmoil confined to the defence. "With Wayne Rooney yet to extend a contract that ends at the end of next season and United languishing outside the Champions League places,” says The Guardian, “the 20-times title winners are in their greatest state of flux in a generation."
The club has ready-made replacements for Vidic and Ferdinand in the form of Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. However, they are not of the same calibre, warns Alex Chick of Eurosport. "Evans is good but not great, Smalling spends most of his time slotting awkwardly into the right-back slot, and Jones simply looks lost."
Vidic is leaving for a reason, he says. "Time is running out on his career, and he wants to win some more trophies. He cannot wait around for United to emerge from their slump."
But as Moyes struggles to fill the vacuum left by Ferguson, Vidic's departure could be a blessing in disguise, says blogger Premier League Owl. The Serb is a key player but remains "another manager’s captain and, subsequently, a symbol of the previous regime". A positive way to view his departure is as "another step towards genuine control" for Moyes.