Gary Neville has been discussing former Leeds United forward, Mark Viduka, revealing that Sir Alex Ferguson would look to ‘attend’ to him every time Manchester United went up against the Australian.
Leeds might’ve been out of the Premier League since 2004, but at the start of the Millennium they were rubbing shoulders with Man United at the top of the Premier League, as well as battling for European glory in the Champions League.
Viduka was central to that push having joined the club in 2000, with Leeds blessed with the Australian’s class right up until their relegation to the Championship in 2004.
This week, Neville and Jamie Carragher looked back on the day Viduka introduced himself to the English game in November 2000; taking on Liverpool at Elland Road, the Australian struck four goals to secure a famous 4-3 win for Leeds.
After watching highlights, Neville and Carragher began discussing the big Australian, with the former believing he’d suit the modern game perfectly.
“Looking at Mark Viduka there, I think he would grace the Premier League today if he was playing,” Neville told Monday Night Football.
“Technically, he was such a great player. His hold-up play – almost like he was ahead of his time in the way that he played the game – he would have enjoyed it much more today than he would have done back then when he was getting booted.”
Discussing how Ferguson used to instruct Man United to deal with Viduka, Neville revealed the respect the manager had for the Leeds man.
“We always used to put someone in front of him,” Neville continued.
“He was never going to run the channels so if you had someone in front of him to stop him getting the ball to feet you actually took away a large part of his game. If someone was in front of him he’d have to run sideways and then he couldn’t barge you off or put his backside into you to hold it up.
“One thing Alex Ferguson would do is attend to the big players in one team, he would pick them out and say that ‘you need to attend to him’.
“So for someone like Viduka, or Tim Cahill at Everton, Ferguson would talk for a couple of minutes about what you had to do to ‘attend to’ that player.
“He made it quite clear, if you don’t stop this player then you’re going to have problems.”
Viduka left Leeds in 2004 and went on to play for both Middlesbrough and Newcastle United.
Viduka was a exceptional talent who the Leeds United fans really took to in the early 2000s.
He was a frustrating player in that he was sometimes a little bit lazy, but when he was in the mood – like against Liverpool – he was almost unplayable.
The fact Ferguson used to have a plan for him tells you how important he was to Leeds and how much rivals would fear going up against him.
At a time when Leeds are still a Championship club, there’s no denying he’s part of the last ‘glory days’.
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