Vidic makes a case for the defence at United
Former Manchester United skipper Nemanja Vidic has argued the Reds' central defensive options compare favourably to most of our Premier League rivals.
"I agree [Smalling is under-rated]," he told MUTV at a TAG Heuer event at Hotel Football. “I think he has quality. I played with him and know what he can do."Since Ole came, Phil has played most of the games so I think Ole has trust in him. He is a player I played with and I think, it’s the same as Smalling, they are underestimated in the media and by fans.
"When you don’t get good results, criticism is always going to come. When I played for the club, me and my team-mates, we understood that we can just go forward as a team – not as individuals. Obviously, you have to win matches, then you have to win trophies and then the recognition will come.
"I think that, with all these defenders, I have had these questions even before when they ask me about Manchester United and how they have to buy a defender. My feeling is that I look at the defenders at Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea, and I don’t think they have better defenders than we have at the club. That’s my feeling, personally.
"So I think that Ole has different players, different types of defenders, and he has to find the right match. When teams play well, players get confidence to go onto the pitch. They believe they can win the match and are not scared going into the game. So that’s important psychologically. The worst thing you can do is to be going into games with doubts.
"It seems the players don’t have doubts. They are confident about themselves and feel they can play against anyone. That’s my feeling, watching from the side and, like I’ve said, there is quality. Even when I was playing for Manchester United, the quality was important to have as a player but character is even more important."
Vidic believes it is unfair to compare the current selection of centre-backs to he and Ferdinand’s combination because the game and the role itself has changed."I never like it when people compare,” he added. “Even when I was at United, they compared Rio and myself with Gary Pallister and Steve Bruce. So I think, in my time, maybe it is different football and a different generation. Football is changing as well.
"Now, I think as well, from this moment in time, the defenders are not just defenders but are also expected to do more than just defend. I don’t like comparisons. I think Manchester United have many good defenders."
Nemanja Vidic was speaking at an exclusive TAG Heuer event at Hotel Football on Thursday night.
TAG Heuer are United's official time-keeping partner and were promoting their #DontCrackUnderPressure campaign, with ex-Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp another of the special guests.
Watch the full exclusive interview with Nemanja Vidic, featuring his thoughts on the big game with Liverpool, in our official app from 19:00 GMT on Friday.