Nemanja Vidic is confident Manchester United are perfectly placed to end the hurt of surrendering their Premier League title to Chelsea. With his own future resolved after reaching a verbal agreement over a lucrative new contract, Vidic can concentrate on his work at the heart of United's defence.
Regular partner Rio Ferdinand will be sidelined until September at least because of the knee injury he suffered in training prior to the World Cup, so Sir Alex Ferguson will again be heavily reliant on the 28-year-old Serb, whose present deal is due to expire in 2012. Yet with Jonny Evans another year into his footballing education, John O'Shea and Wes Brown both fit and Chris Smalling arrived from Fulham to bolster United's defensive ranks, Vidic feels the club are in good shape as they try to reassert their authority and reclaim a title they had won in each of the defender's three full seasons prior to the last one.
"It hurt to lose the title, especially as it was very close," said Vidic. "We finished just one point behind Chelsea and were very disappointed we didn't make it. But this is a new season, we have to forget what happened last year, and the three before that if I am truthful. Our targets do not change. We have to win the League again and now we are stronger."
Vidic's reasoning is simple. During one horrendous spell last term, Ferguson had to use Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher as makeshift defenders due to a chronic lack of bodies.
Although nothing can be taken for granted, losing five potential centre-backs at one time is unlikely to happen again, and with Smalling around too it would take a pretty unfortunate turn of events for United to get caught out in the coming campaign.
"There are more players to choose from now," said Vidic. "Last year we had injuries and for a period a few midfield players had to come into the defence, which is not good. Now we have a lot of options in each position which is important because we are looking to win all the trophies this season."
It is Ferguson's other major summer purchase, Mexico striker Javier Hernandez, who has been causing the biggest stir. Hernandez took his tally to three in as many pre-season games with his instinctive effort in Wednesday night's drubbing of the Airtricity League XI and after earning comparisons to legendary predator Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from his manager, could be the bargain of the summer.
The 22-year-old is set to feature in Sunday's Community Shield at a Wembley ground he played on for his country in May. Chelsea lie in wait for the third time in four years, having claimed last season's encounter on penalties. Vidic admits a small dose of revenge would be sweet, and would serve notice of United's intentions over the coming months.
However, he accepts the fixture remains a glorified pre-season match and what really counts is the state of the two clubs in May.
"It is always nice to win and that would be the case against Chelsea, even if it is before the start of the season," he said. "But the most important thing is what happens at the end. This year our gaffer wanted a few players to rest and be fresher in December and January when the more important games come around. That was when we got the injuries last year. Hopefully we will be a bit luckier this time."