As Nemanja Vidic sat down at a plush Cheshire hotel last week to provide his farewell interviews for the club’s internal media team, it was impossible not to feel great sadness knowing he will no longer be wearing the red shirt with pride next season.
The commanding centre-back embodied everything that we like to see in a Manchester United captain – on and off the pitch – and his strength and aggression were key attributes in endearing himself to the Old Trafford public.
As he says his goodbyes to the home fans during the lap of the pitch after the clash with Hull City, the Serbian may find it difficult to maintain the hard-man image that has been well earned over his eight years in England. “You never know what is going to happen with your emotions,” he admits in an interview published in tonight’s United Review, the official matchday programme. “You can try to predict but I wasn’t emotional before and I haven’t cried yet! We will see what happens after the last game, but it is going to be sad.”
There were no regrets ahead of his summer switch to Inter Milan, only a sense that he would have loved to overcome Barcelona in a Champions League final, a light-hearted but sincere insistence his red-card record against Liverpool was unfair, and disappointment that 2013/2014 will be far from the best for the club in his time in Manchester.
The fans have remained fully supportive despite the announcement of his move, singing his name with as much gusto as ever, particularly in the wake of his header to cap a dominant personal performance against Bayern Munich in the first leg of the European quarter-final. Vidic feels the United faithful “have shown their class” but, in turn, the continued backing for the departing defender illustrates how highly he is regarded.
It is reasonable to understand the logic when he insists his exit should not be “so dramatic” because many other great players have left over the years and it is merely the nature of the game. Time moves on. Heroes come and go, with even more regularity than bygone years. Yet Vida will be sorely missed around the Aon Training Complex and, even