Vidic's back; is United, too?

Updated: 2011-10-31 08:03

(China Daily)

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Serb bolsters sagging defense in relieving 1-0 victory at Everton

LIVERPOOL - Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes the return of captain Nemanja Vidic from injury will be critical after the champion got on track with a 1-0 victory at Everton.

Ferguson's side got back in the win column on Saturday after last weekend's humiliating 6-1 home defeat against bitter rival Manchester City.

Javier Hernandez got the only goal at Goodison Park to ensure United remains five points behind City.

Vidic, who missed the City game with a calf problem, starred against Everton, and Ferguson expects the Serbian center-back will be a key figure in the next few months after United's recent defensive troubles.

"It was a fantastic performance by Vidic," Ferguson said. "Every ball that came into our box, he got clear and that's his speciality. He's a fantastic header of the ball and that was the key again here.

Vidic's back; is United, too?

"The fact there have been so many chances against us recently, we had to reduce that if we are going to win the league. It was no coincidence we didn't have any problems here."

Ferguson's relief at bouncing back from the City rout was intensified by the gritty nature of the victory.

There has been plenty of criticism of United's defense in recent weeks, but it subdued a hostile crowd in impressive fashion to claim a fourth cleansheet in the league this season.

"We expect a hard game every time we come to Everton, in fairness. The crowd get behind them and they show great enthusiasm," Ferguson said. "In the first half in particular we played very, very well. Second half we defended well and that was the pleasing aspect for me.

"Winning 1-0, I'll take half a dozen of those anytime because that's championship form when you get those kind of results."

Hernandez's fourth goal of the season was enough for United to earn its first win on Merseyside in four years.

But the win came at a cost, with midfielder Tom Cleverley limping off with a recurrence of an ankle injury.

Ferguson also revealed England defender Chris Smalling, who missed the game, will be sidelined for a month with a broken foot, while Ashley Young is facing a spell out due to a toe problem.

United hosts Romania's Otelul Galati in the Champions League on Wednesday, and the trio will be missing.

"Cleverley has turned his ankle again, although we don't think it's anything serious," Ferguson said.

Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 10/31/2011 page23)