Former Manchester United defender Nenamja Vidic has had his say on Jose Mourinho’s current defensive group and has called for continuity of selection.
The Serbian, who currently resides in Italy after retiring from the game in January 2016, believes that United need to field a settled centre-back pairing and that Eric Bailly should be a certain starter.
Vidic, speaking in an exclusive interview with ESPN, said: “Eric Bailly started really well with a steady two or three months. Then he was unlucky with injury and the African Cup of Nations.
“He’s aggressive. He has potential, he’s young, and he likes to defend. He has the qualities to go even further. But I still think that Phil Jones and/or Chris Smalling could build a partnership with Bailly.
“Smalling has the mentality to defend, the physical size to do it. He likes to defend.”
The 35-year-old Vidic, who made 300 appearances for United between 2006 and 2014, also added just how important communication is to a successful defensive group.
“Communication is very important in defence, and it doesn’t help when there has been a lot of changes in United’s defence, like this season,” he added.
“It’s important for central defenders to build partnerships. If you change too much, then it’s difficult to understand each other.
“I was lucky to play for many years with Rio [Ferdinand]. Even though we were very different as players and personalities, I knew what he was going to do in any moment and he knew what I could do.
“That is absolutely vital for central defenders, but you also need a goalkeeper to communicate with you. David [de Gea] is brilliant and he’s doing really well. He can also tell the defenders to speak more, to be more active in the game.”
One United player that Vidic is a big fan of is converted right-back Antonio Valencia: “I loved playing with him and against him because he’s an honest player. It’s difficult to beat him one-on-one. He’s strong, he’s powerful, he has everything.
“I like to see him at right-back because he can still go forward and cross the ball, but he doesn’t have that obligation to be creative too much up front. It’s a good position for him.”
Marcos Rojo is a United player who has come in for some criticism since he moved to Old Trafford and while Vidic thinks he is a good player he is expecting more from the Argentinian.
“Rojo is a player who has done well at full-back for Argentina. Is he good enough to play central defence? Look, of course he’s a good player; he plays for Man United most games. Can he play better? Of course. But if you’re asking me which one central defender I most like to watch, then it’s Bailly.”
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