David Moyes has established that Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic is his first choice centre back pairing at Manchester United. I agree with him. Despite their age, they are the still the best at Old Trafford and two of the most dominant centre backs in the Premier League.
Ferdinand had a renaissance in 2012 and earned himself a spot in the Premier League Team of the Year, his sixth appearance in the PFA team, while Vidic has slowly recovered from his knee injuries to get back to his dominant best. When on form, Vidic and Ferdinand are superb.
But the tough decision that Moyes has lies in rotation. Appearances for the pair against Bayer Leverkusen meant it was the first time in 16 months that Ferdinand had made five consecutive starts and over a year since Vidic had five starts in a row.
Consistency in selection at the back has made United a much harder team to break down at the start of Moyes’ reign but with a huge game away to Manchester City on Sunday, will the pair be able to handle the rigours of a derby day off the back of their busiest playing schedules in a long time?
Ferdinand’s return to form was largely in part due to the excellent management of his injuries. The same goes for Vidic. Moyes does run the risk of their injuries flaring up if he continues to play them in every game and there is a possibility of burnout if they play too many games in the early part of the season.
Moyes will have to choose the right time to rest them because although he doesn’t want to break up the partnership given how well they are playing, he’ll need to keep them fit for the whole season. However, the saving grace for Moyes is that when he does decide, United have replacements ready to step in.
Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling are waiting for their opportunities. Evans has become an absolutely fantastic defender over the last two years while Smalling continues to rehabilitate himself from injury problems. Add Phil Jones to that when he fully recovers from his injury and you realise that United are well stacked in the centre back department.
Sir Alex Ferguson was the master of squad rotation. It was one of his greatest assets and Moyes has to play his own hand very soon. With games against Manchester City, Liverpool, West Brom and away to Shakhtar Donetsk all before 2 October, Moyes will have to be smart with team selection as the schedule demands increase.