Date:16th March 2012 at 10:20am
Written by:

Any team will miss a player of Nemanja Vidic’s quality.

The Serbian defender has been a rock for United at the back, but a knee injury suffered against Basel in December has ruled him out until next season.

Many felt without Vidic at the back United would struggle but whilst it hasn’t been easy, United have coped largely because players have stood up and picked up the slack.

One such player is Jonny Evans. The defender was regarded as behind both Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in terms of center backs at the club, but his performances alongside Rio Ferdinand have not only pushed him to the front of the queue, but also silenced those who doubted him following his rough spell last year.

Whilst praise won’t always be forthcoming from those who have criticised him previously, former United stalwart Steve Bruce has been very impressed with the young Northern Irish defender:

“Of course, they have missed Vidic but Jonny Evans has now played over 20 league games and has very quietly done extremely well.

“He’s only 23, he’s played in big games and has handled himself brilliantly.

“Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have got all the headlines because they’ve had a meteoric rise, but I think Jonny Evans has done particularly well in filling the gap left by Vidic.”

Bruce also reserve praise for veteran Rio Ferdinand who, beside Evans, has helped shore up what was a porous United defence:

“It’s also important that Rio Ferdinand has come back and just given them that stability.

“I think defenders get better with age. Even though you might lose that half-yard of pace it gets easier. The art of defending lies in your concentration levels, and that is something which gets easier with age.

“It’s particularly important at United, where you are constantly on the attack and you need to stay switched on even when you might not have too much to do.”

For more insight from Steve Bruce and other leading managers plus exclusive Premier League highlights go to