Date: 9th February 2007 at 6:23pm
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United conceded the second lowest number of goals in the Premiership this season. The cornerstone of this stability was undoubtedly the excellent Vidic-Ferdinand defensive duo and Fergie praised the latter unreservedly for his contribution.

The Serbian always got the recognition after his fabulous performances took England by surprise. But the world’s expensive defender failed to live up to this tag, at least according to some pundits. Fergie, as usual, disagrees.

‘It is hard to pick a better defender in the world than Rio,’ said the boss.

‘When he came to us, he was a player of enormous potential. That was evident in everything you saw of him.

‘He has always had fabulous technique, great pace and balance. He is two-footed and 6ft 3in, so he has everything you would wish for in a centre-half.

‘But he also had moments when he was careless and he would give the opposition a chance, because he was so relaxed.

‘Thankfully, his maturity has brought that edge to his game where he handles everything now.’

I believe he reaped the benefits of the arrival of Vidic as a settled and reliable defensive partner took a lot of the burden off his back. But Sir Alex does not think along these lines, or at least does not find it so evident.

‘I am not sure whether Rio needed someone like Nemanja.’

‘What he needed was someone to be there alongside him all the time, to get a longevity into a partnership.

‘I will never forget Bruce and Pallister playing together for the first time. We lost at home to Norwich, and Pallister in particular was awful.

‘But they ended up generating an understanding which helped them develop a fantastic partnership. I hope that is going to happen again.’

But it’s no coincidence this understanding was not formed with Silvestre or Brown… I still think the attributes and characteristics of Vidic absolutely complement Rio and that’s what make them the greatest defensive partnership in the league right now.