3 best partnerships for Manchester United in the Premier League era
Manchester United have been the most successful team in Premier League history though they have tailed off somewhat recently. As any fan will know, the majority of that success came under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Like many great football managers before him, Ferguson recognised that successful teams are built on a strong spine in defence, midfield and attack with class running throughout the team.
You just have to see some of the teamsheets under Ferguson to see evidence of that fact: particularly towards the end of his time at United where he had world class players (albeit most of them ageing) in every single position.
Part of building successful teams and a strong spine relied on Ferguson's legendary man-management skills (even though a certain Roy Keane may disagree!) and knowing which players would gel together and create effective partnerships.
There have been numerous successful partnerships for United in the Premier League era, not just on the pitch but on the sidelines too (Sir Alex and Brian Kidd before they fell out). This article looks at the 3 best partnerships for United in the Premier League Era, with the best for defence, midfield and attack all selected.
#1 Defence- Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic
Though United are, of course, traditionally renowned for their attacking football (though that's definitely not been the case in recent seasons under Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho), they've also had numerous world-class defenders and consequently many great partnerships.
The earliest would be Bruce and Pallister and other honourable mentions go to the Jaap Stam/Ronny Johnsen pairing and even the partnership of Chris Smalling/Phil Jones deserves recognition.
In terms of pure quality though, it's hard to overlook Ferdinand and Vidic as the most successful defensive partnership in United's Premier League Era and indeed perhaps of all time. When Vidic joined in 2006, the club was on the cusp of another golden era under Sir Alex and the Ferdinand-Vidic partnership was central to this success.
From 2006-2013, the club won 5 league titles, 3 League cups, the Champions League and the World Club Championship. As they say, you always build from the back in creating a football team and United could press forward knowing that they had a rock-solid partnership. Goalkeepers such as Edwin Van Der Sar and David De Gea owe a lot of their success at United to Ferdinand and Vidic.
Perhaps a lot of their success owes to their contrasting attributes- Vidic was the hardman and more physical of the pair and provided an aerial threat from corners and set pieces. Ferdinand was more of the cultured player, being excellent in bringing the ball out from defence and reading the game excellently.
Particularly in the earlier years of this partnership, Ferdinand was much quicker than Vidic though this could lead to lapses in concentration and a slight cockiness in Rio's game. Similarly, the only criticism of Vidic would be his lack of pace, which made him vulnerable to speedy strikers (we all remember how much he struggled against Fernando Torres!).
On the whole, though, Rio and Vida (as he was affectionately known by the United faithful) were an excellent partnership and provided the foundation for some of the most successful times in the club's history. How the current United side could badly use those two right now.