Belfast Telegraph

Manchester derby bore wasn’t United's fault, says Vidic

Nemanja Vidic insists Manchester United stuck by their principles at Eastlands by trying to win the derby-day bore draw.

Not only was the goalless stalemate the first encounter with City to end up in such fashion since 2004 — and the first on blue soil in 19 years, it was also largely devoid of goalmouth action.

Although it was the hosts who came closest to scoring through Carlos Tevez's first-half free-kick, United were the ones most determined to prize open an obdurate defence.

Certainly if blame is to be apportioned for such tepid fare, the red half of a divided city do not believe it should be attached to them.

“Our mentality is always to win,” said Vidic.

“Nothing changes. It doesn't matter whether it is at Manchester City or at Aston Villa on Saturday. Our target is always to win the game and even this time, we are disappointed not to.”

There were obvious positives to take from the outcome.

Another clean sheet for a start, indicating that those unusual early-season mishaps are now behind them.

“We were solid and we defended as a group,” said Vidic, whose partnership with Rio Ferdinand has been a key factor in the Red Devils' recent improvement.

“If you look at the past games we lost quite a few goals. Now we are keeping clean sheets, which is a bonus to take from the game.”

As if to emphasise who had the most positive attitude, Vidic concluded United were the only side looking to win the game as they continue to push Chelsea in the title race.

“They were the one defending in the last 15 minutes,” said the Serbian.

“They had all 10 players behind the ball. But we have to forget this game now and start thinking about Aston Villa. We have to go there and win to keep the pressure on Chelsea.”

The problem for United was that City's strict adherence to their defensive roles meant there was little space around the penalty area to make any further inroads.

One incisive first-half attack ended up with the wrong man getting a sight of Joe Hart's goal, or at least his wrong leg, as Patrice Evra had to shoot with his right after stepping round Kolo Toure rather than his favoured left.

Against Liverpool in September, Dimitar Berbatov found the net with a stupendous overhead kick.

Presented with a slightly easier opportunity by Wes Brown, the Bulgarian proved what a sublime moment he produced two months ago by hooking the ball tamely straight to Joe Hart.

The consolation amongst the Old Trafford hordes is that at least they tried.

“We were certainly the team pushing to win the game,” argued midfielder Michael Carrick.

“Our possession of the ball was excellent at times but the final ball and final shot didn't fall for us or open them up, which was frustrating. But we are still on a long unbeaten run and that fills us with confidence.”

United have won enough trophies under Sir Alex Ferguson to feel secure in the knowledge they have the mentality required to lift more silverware.

Quality is a precious commodity though, which is why the return of Wayne Rooney from his week-long training stint at Nike's HQ in Oregon tomorrow needs to be accompanied by an upturn in his personal performance.

Before Rooney's departure last weekend, assistant-manager Mike Phelan suggested the 25-year-old would be fit upon his return, which raises the potential for a comeback against Wigan at Old Trafford on November 20.

Having slipped four points adrift of Chelsea, their Premier League campaign now takes them to Aston Villa, where they do have an outstanding record, but now will be without Paul Scholes due to suspension, Rafael due to a dead leg and almost certainly Evra, who limped off with an ankle injury.

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