A bad season just keeps getting worse for Manchester United.
As if a 3-0 loss to bitter rivals Liverpool wasn't bad enough—a loss that almost certainly ended any chances that United might have had to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League—United will now lose key defender Nemanja Vidic for two matches after he was sent off on a second yellow card in the second half against Liverpool.
Henry Winter of the Daily Telegraph shared the news:
Gerrard misses penalty after Sturridge dives, conning Clattenburg and bringing 2nd yellow for Vidic. Still 2-0 to #lfc. 80— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) March 16, 2014
Fox Soccer Trax agrees with Winter's assessment of Sturridge's deception:
77 PENALTY for LIVERPOOL as Vidic slides in on Sturridge - replay suggests Clattenburg may have gotten that wrong— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) March 16, 2014
Sturridge was the one who should have been carded for simulation. Replays showed he at best embellished the slightest of contacts and at worst invented a foul before flopping to the ground. Vidic shouldn't have gone to the ground, but he most assuredly was harshly punished for the play.
Now he faces a two-match ban, according to Dale Johnson of ESPN:
Nemanja Vidic will be banned for two matches, missing the away game at West Ham and the Manchester derby. #mufc— Dale Johnson (@dalejohnsonESPN) March 16, 2014
And in case you were thinking that United would appeal the decision, Johnson adds:
Vidic is facing a double suspension for being sent off, since his two yellows against Liverpool brought him to five for the season. Of course, getting sent off against the Reds has become a tradition for Vidic, as Paul Carr of ESPN notes:
Nemanja Vidic is the first player in the Premier League era to receive four red cards vs the same opponent.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) March 16, 2014
Vidic has already announced he will not return to Manchester United next season, instead choosing to join Inter Milan. That means he will miss two of the last nine matches of his United career, one that dates back to 2006. If his recent comments about leaving the club to Sky Sports are any indication, the two-match ban will be a huge disappointment for the player:
I am starting to think about how long I have left at the club. I see a lot of people on the street and they still have appreciation for what I have done for the club. Sometimes, it's hard to listen to these comments, but that's football, that's life. You have to accept that's how things go and move on.
I would like to finish on a high and finish with good performances. I'm looking forward to playing every game I possibly can.
Well, you can take two games off the list.
Given United's defensive performance against Liverpool, losing Vidic will really hurt, especially against a dangerous club like Manchester City. United should be able to beat West Ham with or without Vidic, but given the team's recent form, it's hard to see them subduing the Citizens without one of their key defenders.
And things could get worse for United if Chris Smalling can't recover from injury, as he was held out of Sunday's game, per Manchester United's Twitter account:
We can confirm Chris Smalling misses today's game with a hamstring injury. #mufc— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 16, 2014
If Smalling also misses the next two games, well, United are in big trouble. The nightmare continues for the Red Devils.