Alex Ferguson has confirmed Nemanja Vidic will skipper Manchester United in Sunday’s blockbuster confrontation with Liverpool at Old Trafford.
There has been huge debate over who would wear the captain’s armband for the Red Devils ever since Ferguson revealed earlier in the week that Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs can no longer expect to do the job because they do not play every week.
And it seems Rio Ferdinand’s injury problems have ruled him out of contention too.
Ferdinand has been the regular stand-in over the past few years and was named England captain by Fabio Capello when he decided to remove the job from John Terry.
The 31-year-old was captain on Tuesday when Vidic missed the Champions League opener with Rangers but tonight Ferguson confirmed the Serbian will again lead the team out against Liverpool, as he has done in all four Premier League matches so far this season.
“As I explained last week, what we wanted was someone who was consistently available for us,” Ferguson told MUTV.
“Everyone recognises Nemanja Vidic would always be there. He has been fit all season and you don’t leave him out of the team unless you are going to rest him.
“He started the campaign as captain and it will stay that way.”
What that means for Ferdinand is unclear.
Although Ferguson was delighted with the former Leeds man’s performance on his comeback from the ankle injury that wrecked his hopes of leading England at the World Cup against Rangers on Tuesday, he refused to confirm Ferdinand would keep his place for the Liverpool encounter, highlighting his pleasure at the partnership Jonny Evans has forged with Vidic, despite recent mishaps at Fulham and Everton.
Ferdinand does remain one of the best defenders in the country but his fitness has been patchy for a couple of years now and after the performances of Steven Gerrard, both in South Africa and England’s three matches since, have led many to suggest the Liverpool man should now get the Three Lions job on a permanent basis too.
Capello has never given any indication of putting much store by matters of that nature and after the Hungary friendly in August stated that Ferdinand was still his captain.
However, that stance shifted to more neutral ground following the Euro 2012 double-header with Bulgaria and Switzerland, when Gerrard performed with maturity on and off the field as he dealt with the fallout from Wayne Rooney’s personal troubles.
It could also be argued that Ferdinand would benefit from being able to concentrate solely on his own performances rather than getting sidetracked by any team matters.
Capello will have to make a decision prior to the October 12 meeting with Montenegro at Wembley, when both Ferdinand and Gerrard are expected to be available.
This is of no consequence to Vidic, who signed a new four-year contract this summer and recently spoke of his pride at wearing the captain’s armband, even if he felt the real captains of Old Trafford remained Neville, Ferdinand, Giggs and Paul Scholes.
“It is a big achievement for me,” the 28-year-old told Press Association Sport last month.
“No-one is going to say they don’t want to be the captain of Manchester United and I am very happy with it.
“It is a major responsibility but I have always liked responsibility. I am not a player who shies away from it. Nothing has really changed in that respect.
“But we all know the captains of the team are Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand.
“They are the real leaders. The other players follow how they do things.
“When they are not on the pitch, I just try to do my best and use the experience I have gained in the years I have played for Manchester United.”