Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic isn't surprised the club have sustained their Premier League title challenge in his absence
The Serbian has been out since December after damaging his anterior cruciate knee ligaments in the Champions League group game against FC Basel.
Whilst United have been knocked out of two European competitions, their domestic form has propelled them five points clear of rivals Manchester City in the race for the title, with club captain Vidic unsurprised by their form.
“I always believed we would challenge for the title,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who is out.
“If you look at the past, players have left and fans have said how are we going to cope?
“But the manager is the best at replacing players and the team still win titles and trophies. That is why Manchester United are so special.
“We didn’t expect the young players to play so many games and have such an influence on the team. This is a great plus for the club.
“Obviously, we have had some injuries over the past year, which is another difficult thing we have gone through, but we have coped and been very competitive with City. Now we are at the top of the league and have a big chance to win it.”
At 30 years old, fears are rife that Vidic won't return to the United fold the same dominant force given the nature of the injury that ruled him out for the remainder of the season.
Without Vidic, the performances of Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans have been typical of United's fighting spirit, and have spearheaded the club's surge to the top.
However, Vidic is unmoved by talk of his decline, and is determined to comeback fitter than ever.
“When I come back I want to be at the same level I was before my injury,” he said.
“This is one of the things that drives me on. I can’t change what happened. I have to get on with it. Even when you have an injury, there are some benefits. I know the stuff I am doing now will help me not to have this again.
“Of course, I am not happy to be out. It is a big injury. A long injury. But I am 30. I still have a few years to play. I don’t believe I will be on top form as soon as I come back, but when people say I can’t be the same, this is a challenge for me.”