Belfast Telegraph

Vidic boosts Manchester United’s case for title defence

Everton 0 Manchester United 1

Manchester United youngster Phil Jones believes the champions are a much tougher proposition with captain Nemanja Vidic back leading the defence.

The Serbian centre-back gave a commanding performance in his first Premier League appearance since day one of the season as United claimed a hard-fought win at Everton on Saturday.

United needed to lift morale after last week's 6-1 drubbing by Manchester City and Vidic was particularly strong in the air as Everton, despite applying considerable pressure, were beaten 1-0 at Goodison Park.

Jones, 19, who himself shone at right-back, said: “He is our captain and you don't want to go without your captain. The determination and greatness shows and it rubs off on everyone else.

“We fought defensively as a unit. We have 11 players when we defend, not just four.

“I thought 11 players defended terrifically well when Everton were throwing everything, the kitchen sink, at us at the end.

“I thought we stood strong as a unit and held together.”

United's form has dipped over the past month and statistics highlighting the high number of chances they are allowing opponents were a concern even before City brutally exposed them.

Vidic was left out of the derby after his comeback from a two-month lay-off with a calf injury went wrong with a red card on Champions League duty against Otelul Galati.

He returned at Aldershot in the Carling Cup last week and then started against Everton alongside Jonny Evans, who was given a vote of confidence by manager Sir Alex Ferguson after his derby dismissal.

That left Rio Ferdinand to occupy a place on the bench but Ferguson felt he had made the right call in restoring Vidic.

The Scot, who next week celebrates 25 years in charge at Old Trafford, said: “It was a fantastic performance by Vidic. Every ball that came into our box, he got it clear. He's a fantastic header of the ball and that was key for us.”

United held on for their first win at Everton in four seasons after Javier Hernandez turned in a Patrice Evra cross at close range in the 19th minute.

Everton had several chances to equalise but lacked a cutting edge with David De Gea barely extended by most of their shots.

He did produce one notable save to deny Jack Rodwell, although it broke through the Spaniard's arms and hit his face, while Leighton Baines struck the bar from a free-kick.

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