Nemanja Vidic
That infamous photo the moment Vidic sustained his injury. REUTERS

Alan Hansen believes Manchester United could rue the absence of Nemanja Vidic more than their lack of Champions League football this season.

The Match of the Day pundit ranks the Manchester United defender, who has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a ruptured medial ligament, as one of the finest centre-halves in Europe. Hansen believes the performances of the talismanic Serb this season alone, indicates how much Sir Alex Ferguson will miss Vidic.

Vidic missed Manchester United's humbling 6-1 loss against Roberto Mancini's side in October but since his return to full-fitness, he has a totem of strength for the Red Devils. Their record since the chastening derby has been impressive at the back, and Hansen believes Vidic is central to that.

"To add injury to the insult of elimination, Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic, someone I regard as right up with the best defenders in Europe in recent years, will now miss the rest of the season with the knee injury he suffered in Basel." The former Liverpool captain told the BBC.

"This is a desperate problem for Ferguson and Manchester United because without him they have looked very frail.

"It is no surprise that since Vidic came back following the 6-1 defeat by Manchester City, United have looked a lot tighter defensively and reeled off a succession of clean sheets until Wednesday.

"You only had to watch him in the Manchester United win against Aston Villa to see what he gives Manchester United and what they will miss when he is not there.

"Anything that came into the box was Vidic's, headed and cleared away - he was absolutely magnificent."

In Vidic's absence Hansen believes Sir Alex Ferguson has serious job on his hands managing the ageing Rio Ferdinand and the youthful Manchester United trio of Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones.

"Ferguson will now need to deal with his absence."

"Rio Ferdinand looks like he needs help at the moment and while Phil Jones will eventually be a great defender, he is still relatively inexperienced.

"Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans can also play in there, but there is no doubt Vidic is Manchester United's best centre-back by a mile."