Nemanja Vidic announced his impending departure from Manchester United this summer but the Reds’ young defenders of Manchester United Language & Soccer Schools should, in Vida’s four remaining months, soak up as much of his experience and advice as possible.
Speaking before confirming that he will bring the curtain down on eight years at the club, Nemanja told us about his prevailing passion for his trade, talking in detail about going man-to-man with the game’s toughest strikers – and it all stands as testament to his much-loved, battle-hardened style…
Do you prepare to face specific opponents?
I don’t give any knowledge to anyone for free… no, that’s joke. I would say one thing which helped me here to adapt to English football; when I first arrived I didn’t know the players that I was facing in the next game. And in that first six months I realised that I had to see the matches and the players before I face certain players. We have a video analysis guy here, so I would ask to see the video of the matches and if I didn’t know the player I would ask to see him to get to know his ability, that is how I did it in the first two years. After that I had played against most of those players so I knew their capabilities and it was a bit easier to prepare. Now I just try to prepare physically as best as I can for matches. With most of the opponents I know what I’m going to get, but sometimes I still want to see the video of certain players.
What do you work on in training?
It’s not one thing that you practice. You always find things you need to work on. Maybe I didn’t do something well in a game, so I say to myself that I have to improve that a bit and get the right feeling. At this club we have so many games so you don’t always have much time to practice. We play every three days so sometimes rest is more important than training. When I have time I always try to do something extra, which I think is important for me.
You’re renowned for being good in the air. What are the key attributes required?
Timing is important. To judge the flight of the ball, you have to have that feeling in you which you can time when to attack the ball. Your positioning is important as well. If you put yourself in a good position maybe you don’t need to jump at all, you judge it right and the ball comes straight to your head. I think it’s something I have – I wouldn’t say I was born with it – but I love defending and I have always enjoyed defending, even from a very young age. I enjoyed it, and I am enjoying it still. That’s probably what helps me because I like defending, so I put myself in good positions; I love winning headers, I love taking the ball from opponents, and that’s helped me to improve throughout my career.
What advice would you give to a young defender?
You have to be clever. That’s the simple answer. It sounds easy, but you have to think in the game. You cannot always be quicker than your opponent. You have to be clever. You have to know what you can do and what you cannot do as well, and if you do that then you have a good chance to succeed.
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