LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester United may be struggling by their own high standards under Jose Mourinho this season but the Portuguese manager will get them back to winning ways, the club’s former captain Nemanja Vidic said on Tuesday.
United, who spent heavily in the close season, are only fifth in the Premier League, 18 points adrift of leaders Chelsea.
They remain in the hunt for a top-four finish and Champions League qualification, however, and with 57 points from 30 games they sit four adrift of fourth-placed rivals Manchester City, with a game in hand.
United face a tough task when they take on Mourinho’s former club Chelsea on Sunday and Vidic acknowledged that the winners of a record 20 English league titles have had to lower their expectations.
“Realistically, if we can add a Champions League slot to the (League) Cup we have won already, we have to be satisfied,” the retired 35-year old Serbian defender told the club’s website (www.manutd.com).
“We are not in the position we would like to be in but we are fighting for the Champions League (qualification),” said Vidic, who won five Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League during his eight-year spell at United.
”Before the season you always think United should compete for the title but it’s not easy. Mourinho came and brought in four players but to build a winning team you need time.
“He has been in charge of big teams and won trophies in different countries so he has the experience and I believe he knows what he is doing.”
United could also qualify for the continent’s elite club competition if they win the second-tier Europa League, where they visit Anderlecht in the first leg of their quarter-final clash on Thursday.
Vidic also backed United’s top scorer this season, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, to stay at the club for one more term with his current contract set to run out after this season.
“At 35 years of age it’s not easy because I am 35 and to be fair I am a bit tired of football,” Vidic said.
”But it seems he is still enjoying it and feeling good on the pitch. It’s good for the club and I hope he will continue to be fit and perform like he has for most of the season.
“He was never counting on speed as a player and that is a positive sign he can do well again next year.”
Ibrahimovic has scored 28 goals in 43 games for United in all competitions, including a brace in their 3-2 League Cup final win over Southampton.
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Toby Davis