The Manchester United legend reacted angrily to the Eagles’ defeat to Scotland, but an old-team-mate doesn’t think he is in a position to judge
Former Serbia star Marko Pantelic has hit back following Nemanja Vidic’s criticism of the football association by asking if he remembers missing a decisive penalty against Slovenia in a European Championship play-off eight years ago.
Serbia’s hopes of reaching Euro 2021 were ended when they fell to a penalty shoot-out defeat in last week’s play-off encounter at the Rajko Mitic Stadium in Belgrade.
The game finished 1-1 after normal time, with Ryan Christie and Luka Jovic grabbing the goals for their respective nations, and spot-kicks were needed after a goalless 30 minutes of extra time.
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Scotland held their nerve to win 5-4 on penalties, with Serbia failing to qualify for the European Championships for the fourth time since they began competing as an independent nation in 2006.
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Ex-Manchester United star Vidic, who won 56 caps for his country over the course of his career, launched a scathing attack on the FA for the way they have been running the national set up on Thursday, insisting that they have been putting money ahead of the team’s progress on the pitch.
“The whole system works in the interest of managers and officials, and not in the interest of football. It allows people, to put it mildly with dubious biographies, to make huge money,” he said in a lengthy statement published by Danas.
“A system that replaces a coach who qualifies for the World Cup? Footballers and coaches are doomed to cooperate with such people, because, unfortunately, they are the ones who decide their fate.
“They teach children that for the path to success, it is important who is your manager and who is the coach, because quality is not a measure, neither football, nor human.
“Such a way of functioning starts from the younger categories. By the time a player comes to the first team, he has learned the opposite of what should create emotion and respect for the jersey he wears. Only when that changes then every player will fight to play in such a national team!
“Capable people in our football are those who manipulate the system and the law! Just ask them where they got their money from and how they earned it! Until that changes – there is no progress! I am really interested in which of the next experts will come forward to defend such a system.”
Pantellic has issued a swift response to his old team-mate, urging him to become a part of the solution instead of adding fuel to the fire after a damaging defeat, while also bringing up some of the high profile mistakes he made in a Serbia shirt.
The ex-Hertha Berlin and Ajax star reminded Vidic of his infamous penalty miss during Serbia’s 1-0 defeat to Slovenia back in 2012 during his own statement, which reads: “My dear Nemanja, there are few Serbian football players who have achieved what you are and who have represented our country in such a way.
“There are few who had the courage to take responsibility on the ground like you. You never hesitated, you entered everything uncompromisingly. We called you before this cycle to get involved in the work of the alliance, to take responsibility and to be with a new generation, just like on the field.
“But this time you didn’t want to. You turned down every suggestion. Decided to stay in the shadows contrary to your position.
“Now you have welcomed the moment and hit the alliance that was with you as a player, but also now. You say you see a lot of problems. There were a lot of them when you, as a member of the national team, did not manage to go to big competitions or when you took responsibility and made mistakes when it depended on you.
“Remember the penalty against Slovenia, the defeat against Estonia, the penalty against Germany … Not everything was good even then. However, you did not write statements then. You did what you know best. Now you have decided to start fighting the system. The only question is with which people.
“It’s easy. Protect coaches and players with your name and authority. Get in the system and show that you can do better. Who will be able to ban Nemanja Vidic from anything? You weren’t at the stadium against Scotland, with the players and the profession. You weren’t there before to point out the problems you see.
“What would have happened if the penalty roulette had sided with us and we had gone to the European Championship? Would he write statements even then?
“Take this opportunity to once again invite you to come to the Serbian Football Association, as a man of clean and unpolluted biography and to start improving football.
“State your plan for solving the problems you mentioned, because these are all general places or general problems of European football, and let us try to change everything together.
“Otherwise, you will drown in a group of critics who know everything after failure and do nothing. And finally, it does not belong to the former captain of the national team to communicate in this way or to stab him in the back at such a difficult time. We did not expect that from you.”