No motivation problem for Vidic
Nemanja Vidic is hoping a relaxed Manchester United signals bad news for Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday.
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5. Nemanja Vidic
United's status as Premier League champions has been confirmed for nearly a fortnight now.
Yet, such was the overwhelming nature of their 20th title it will be another week before they get to collect the trophy and 24 hours after that until they get the chance to parade their hard-won silverware around the city.
Sir Alex Ferguson, who is to have a hip operation that could see him miss the start of the season, has already felt moved to warn his players their planned visit to Chester Races on Wednesday will be scrapped should tomorrow's performance not come up to scratch.
But Vidic does not believe there will be a problem.
In fact, in front of their home fans, the Serbian feels United may be even more dangerous.
"Motivation won't be a problem for us," he said.
"We are motivated every time we step out at Old Trafford.
"When we go into the games we have a mentality to win which is not going to change against Chelsea or anyone else.
"The only difference is we are relaxed. We are not chasing points for the trophy. That means we can play without pressure and actually enjoy the game.
"We want to finish in a good style."
It has been a matter of some bewilderment at Old Trafford that a championship achieved in such commanding fashion has been accompanied by so much doubt over the ability within Ferguson's present squad.
After all, Vidic has now won five titles in seven full seasons as a United player, and missed out on the other two by a point in 2010 and goal difference last season.
"You cannot make people think differently," he said.
"They have to believe what they believe.
"I don't think you can judge how good this team was until this generation leaves and another one comes in.
"I don't have a problem with that.
"I just want to win as many trophies as I can.
"I am lucky I came to the club at the right time. I am playing with good players and there is a good mentality.
"That is why we have won five titles in the seven years I have been here. That is a good statistic. Hopefully it won't be the last one."
And Vidic is satisfied with this season's haul, even though at one stage United were pushing for a repeat of their 1999 Treble, only to lose in controversial circumstances to Real Madrid in the Champions League and throw away a two-goal advantage against Chelsea in the FA Cup.
"We should be satisfied with our season," he said.
"We could have done better in the FA Cup and in the Champions League, but this is football. Maybe we had luck in previous seasons that we didn't have last season."
And for Vidic, the bonus is finally recovering from the chronic knee problems he suffered in the wake of his ruptured cruciate ligaments, which for so long prevented the 31-year-old from making any meaningful contribution.
"The manager and medical staff didn't rush it when I came back from injury," he said.
"I managed my injury well and we had the cover which allowed me to ease myself back.
"Hopefully next season I will be competing for every game and trying to play in every game. That is my target."
United have privately confirmed reports that Ferguson is booked in for surgery immediately after the club return from their three-week pre-season tour at the end of July.
That Ferguson will have his summer break and then travel to Thailand, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong before the operation suggests he is not going to be sidelined for too long.
However, United must face either Manchester City or Wigan in the Community Shield at Wembley on August 11, with their title defence due to begin the following weekend.
No timescale is being put on Ferguson's likely absence but it would require a rapid recovery from the 71-year-old in order for him to be back in the dug-out by then.
Ferguson has always said his health would dictate how long he would carry on as United manager.
He was taken ill at a function in his native Scotland almost 12 months ago, although his nosebleeds were put down to the amount of short flights he had undertaken.
Ferguson subsequently missed pre-season matches in Norway and Germany and also sat out a mid-winter break in Qatar.
Other than that though, he has remained in bullish mood and yesterday poured champagne for journalists attending his press conference at United's Carrington training ground in recognition of a 13th Premier League title.