Victor Lindelof heads the ball away at Wembley.

Lindelof showed Vidic-like qualities against Spurs

Tuesday 15 January 2019 12:45

When Victor Lindelof arrived at Manchester United from Benfica in 2017, he had a reputation as a stylish defender - perhaps more Rio Ferdinand than Nemanja Vidic, closer to Gary Pallister than Steve Bruce.

In the traditional sense of 'silk and steel' partnerships, he would provide the silk. It is true he is good on the ball, something referenced a number of times by former boss Jose Mourinho, and caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described the Swede as 'cultured' after his impressive showing against Tottenham at Wembley.

But maybe our perception will change of the 'Ice Man', somebody we hoped would grow into becoming cool and unflappable at the heart of the back four, once he adapted to the Premier League.

Do you remember Nemanja Vidic's challenge on Kyle Walker?

Much was made of Lindelof's need to come to terms with the physical side of the English top flight and, on a horrible wet and windy afternoon at Huddersfield Town, he had something of a baptism of fire as the Terriers scored twice in a torrid first half for the Reds. Essentially, this was a first test for the Scandinavian in the division. He had come on as a very late substitute at Anfield in a goalless draw, deep into stoppage time, but he was called upon much earlier at the John Smith's Stadium when Phil Jones was injured in the 23rd minute.

Due to the fact he had been held back from performing in the league (the game was on 21 October), there was always going to be a sense that he was taking time to settle and one simple misjudgment of a Jonas Lossl goal-kick in the blustery conditions allowed Laurent Depoitre to run on and score the eventual winner.

Yet Lindelof was always going to be allowed time to show his ability and one moment that really got the Old Trafford crowd on side came in the win over Brighton in February 2018. The centre-back made a bone-jarring challenge on Anthony Knockaert that lifted the fans and, although it could easily have been penalised with a free-kick, it displayed an aggressive edge to the player that was welcomed.

And Victor is not afraid to make such hard, but fair, challenges when the right situations dictate. Football has changed to the extent that tough tackling has been limited due to stricter officiating in this respect, which can only be seen as a positive step, and yet supporters do still love and appreciate any full-blooded attempt to win the ball.

The calm stopper is probably more likely to capture attention for the times when he is not at full stretch and being forced to make interventions like the one against Harry Winks as Spurs broke at the weekend. However, it was interesting to see fans compare it to one of Vidic's most bruising tackles, when he clattered into Kyle Walker during a fixture against Sunday's opponents in 2013. It was one of the memorable moments of a superb personal and collective performance against the north Londoners.

Lindelof's tackle on Winks Video

Lindelof's tackle on Winks

We loved this crunching tackle from Victor Lindelof on Harry Winks during Sunday's 1-0 win over Spurs...

Nobody is saying Lindelof will develop into a Vidic clone, and the player himself told Inside United recently that he does believe he is a ball-playing central defender. But an ability to add more of a physical edge, to combat and quell some of the burlier centre-forwards in the Premier League, is certainly a promising development.

The 24-year-old's confident dribble in Solskjaer's opening game, at Cardiff City, that created a chance for Marcus Rashford, may turn out to be more of an indicator of what we will see from him as he continues to mature. Yet it is reassuring to know Lindelof has this tough side in his locker and is clearly learning what it takes to succeed in England.

The opinions in this story are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United Football Club.

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