Returning Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic believes his sides’ young squad have learnt from the mistakes that saw them surrender the Premier League crown to rivals Manchester City last season.
The Serbian was forced to watch from the sidelines as United’s bitter city rivals overtook his club in the closing games of the campaign to clinch the Premier League crown on goal difference, courtesy of last minute winner from Sergio Aguero in a 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers in the last game of the season.
Vidic made his long-awaited return from the cruciate ligament injury he suffered in November 2011 in Sunday’s draw against Norwegian side Vålerenga, and draws upon last season’s harrowing events as a learning experience for some of United’s younger stars.
"We had some young players play a lot of games last season and they'll have learned a lot. We all learned," said Vidic in an interview with manutd.com.
"In Europe we've had so much success in recent years - we've had three finals, a semi-final - and maybe we relaxed a bit last season.
"We were punished and we can't allow that to happen again. We had a few injuries last season too. I hope everyone can stay fit this season.
For the likes of Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, David de Gea and Rafael da Silva, all 22-years-old or under, coming tantalisingly close to immense success only to have it dissolve in the closing seconds of the campaign would have been hard to swallow. But the 30-year-old Serb is convinced they, and the rest of the United squad can return stronger.
"The young players can learn from last year, so I'm confident we'll be better this year," he continued.
Speaking before Manchester United’s friendly with Barcelona Wednesday night, assistant manager Mike Phelan revealed that northern Irish defender Jonny Evans will be fit in time for United’s season opener against Everton on August 20. Evans underwent ankle surgery over the summer but has resumed training as United make their final preparations for the new season.