FOOTBALL NEWS

"Vidic has been a big influence on my career and he has always helped me. He has been a great teacher and someone who I look up to and admire."
- Phil Jones

"He's set the benchmark in terms of being a real defensive force and, although it won't be easy, we'll do our very best to fill that void."
- Chris Smalling

17/04/2014 09:42, Report by Ben Hibbs

Vidic inspires protégés

Club captain Nemanja Vidic will hand over the baton to one of his protégés when he leaves Old Trafford this summer, and emerging talents Phil Jones and Chris Smalling say they're soaking up as much of the Serbian centre-back's experience and expertise as they can before he departs for pastures new.

The Reds have five games remaining in a season marked by collective disappointment, but for several individuals – and the team in general – a strong finish to the campaign could provide momentum going into 2014/15.

Vidic, who has made 296 appearances in eight years at Old Trafford, won't be part of United's future, but his central defensive partnership with Rio Ferdinand is revered as one of the finest in the club's history. He is a big act to follow and leaves behind students of his game who have learned invaluable lessons.

"He's been a massive part of my development at Manchester United," admits Jones, speaking in a fan Q&A session on his official YouTube channel.

"He's been a big influence on my career and he has always helped me along the way. When I've played alongside him, he has been a great teacher and someone who I look up to and admire."

Smalling adds in the latest issue of Inside United magazine: "Nemanja has been here a long time and produced so many great performances and won a lot of trophies. He's set the benchmark in terms of being a real defensive force and, although it won't be easy, we'll do our very best to fill that void.

"One thing he has always told me is 'defend first'. When you're defending, it's always nice to clear a ball by playing it out with a nice pass or set us away on an attack, but at the end of the day you're a defender and your job, first and foremost, is to defend. Therefore, you have to stop whoever you're playing against, no matter what. I'll always remember that."

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