Manchester United will be unable to steer their Premier League title challenge back on course after losing captain Nemanja Vidic, insists Alan Shearer.
The Reds centreback struggled back to fitness after ten months out with a cruciate ligament knee injury, but was forced to undergo emergency surgery last week and will be sidelined for two months.
And the Premier League’s all-time top scorer claims that the hole left by their world-class defender is irreplaceable as injured and aging players may gift the title to their rivals.
“Quite simply the air of invincibility has long since deserted Sir Alex’s team,” he said in his column with The Sun. “With the loss of Nemanja Vidic now for two months I am even more convinced that the Premier League trophy will either be staying put or heading to Stamford Bridge.
“In truth his loss last season probably cost them the title.”
Andre Villas-Boas became the first Tottenham manage to leave Old Trafford with three Premier League points as pace and width from Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Kyle Walker tore United’s back four to pieces.
And Shearer also lamented Sir Alex Ferguson’s failure to make a clear-cut decision on who his first-choice goalkeeper is – as Anders Lindegaard replaced David de Gea from their midweek cup win.
“The truth is there could have been plenty more goals from Spurs on Saturday,” he added.
“Manchester United are always going to score with players such as Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck in their ranks.
“But it is at the back where the real problems are. Already teams have looked at United and know they can have a go at them.”
And despite Fergie instilling a never-give-up attitude into his players over his 25 years in charge, the Newcastle hero claimed that that alone is not enough to lead a team to success.
“Just as it did last season when they very nearly snatched the title on the last day,” he added. “Other teams would love to have the never-say-die spirit Manchester United have.
“But it cannot carry you through every game.
“I can see a second successive defeat following next weekend when they make the trip to Newcastle.”
United travel to Romania to face champions CFR Cluj in the Champions League tomorrow before facing Newcastle in the Premier League on Sunday.