One may have been surprised this week when Manchester United posted a statement issued by current United captain Nemanja Vidic on their club website declaring he would leave the club following this year’s Premier League season.
Vidic. “I have decided that I will move on at the end of this season. I want to challenge myself again and try to make the best of myself in the coming years. I am now going to focus all my efforts on playing for Manchester United and do the best I can for the team until the end of the season. I hope this stops any further speculation about my future.”
While this announcement served Vidic well, it did nothing positive for the club other than answer speculation raised by reporters and fans concerning Vidic’s future. What may also seem surprising was manager David Moyes response to Vidic’s statement, saying the decision was “mutually decided”. After all, it was Moyes who recently stated the club’s desire to resign their captain.
What is troubling is the message David Moyes sent to his current players. One can only imagine the thoughts going through their minds reading that current team captain Vidic and skipper Moyes decided to part ways at seasons end because their captain needs a new “challenge”. Moyes quickly made the decision to endorse Vidic as the captain fully expecting Vidic to remain a “great leader” and “serve the club really well” right up until the end. This is where Moyes expectations and decision are suspect. It is difficult to rationalize that a “great leader” would put his personal needs above leading the club through its current challenge.
It should come as little surprise that in United’s first game since Vidic’s announcement that the captain checked out mentally Sure, it’s easy to blame Darren Fletcher for failing to track Steven Sidwell’s run into the box as the primary mistake leading to Fulham’s first half goal. But it must be asked what Vidic was doing chasing a decoy runner off the ball and leaving a huge gap in a dangerous position right in the center of the back line. At the very least, organize through communication. The equalizer was far worse. A nonchalant Vidic head ball to the unprotected side of Michael Carrick in the final minute of stoppage time created a domino effect of disastrous mistakes. None worse than Vidic inexplicably leaving Fulham forward Darren Bent to go both ball chasing and ball watching as Kieran Richardson unleashed a shot initially saved by GK David DeGea but easily nodded home by an unmarked Bent as the helpless Vidic tried in vain to recover.
And so United’s season of surprise and disappointment continues.