At his best, Nemanja Vidić was undoubtedly one of the best centre-backs in the world. In the best part of 300 appearances for United, the Serbian has won a Champions League, five Premier League titles and a League Cup, along with a smattering of other team and individual trophies. There's no doubt he's more than earned his place in the Old Trafford hall of fame.
However, the qualifying prefix, 'at his best,' no longer applies. It has become increasingly clear that Vidić is now a fair way past the point of no return, with his increasingly-persistent injury niggles helping to ensure the 32-year-old will never reach his domineering heights again. It's right that he's leaving at the end of the season; departing with his reputation intact.
Of course, United will miss his leadership and experience. Slowly but surely the relics of Sir Alex Ferguson's reign are departing, carrying their extraordinary winning mentality with them. Patrice Evra is another obvious example. But that alone doesn't justify them signing another contract, or clinging to the ever-more distant hope that they'll one day find their best form again.
Sentimentality must take a back seat when revamping the squad, and pleasingly David Moyes has recognised this. Offering Vidić a new contract would be the easy, uncontroversial option -- though there's no guarantee that Vidić is too keen on staying anyway. Instead, the manager is taking the ruthless route, clearly understanding that the problems in this United squad run deeper than just the centre of midfield.
If there was one thing that the horror show against Chelsea was good for, it was revealing the full extent of United's weakness in defence. Signing a tackling midfielder -- or in fact any midfielder capable of occasionally moving -- would certainly help, but an improvement at centre-back is needed as well.
Jonny Evans has been on of United's best performers this season, both defensively and at distributing from the back. Chris Smalling has also looked pretty solid, though has been prone to giving the ball away a little too often. Phil Jones is unconvincing, and Rio Ferdinand is now just bad -- and should probably be leaving Old Trafford ASAP for similar reasons as Vidić.
It's obvious that we need more quality at the back.
So rather than being a piece of horrible management, Moyes' decision to let Vidić go is a promising sign for United. As painful as it may be to see our great captain go, it's probably a lot less painful than seeing him fade even faster when he signed a new contract. And that pain sure will be negated should we sign an improvement this summer.