Ferdinand goes back to the future over contract extension

November 14, 2012 Tags: Reads 15 comments

“Rio can play for two or three years,” said Sir Alex Ferguson recently, playing down a row over Rio Ferdinand’s non-appearance in a Kick It Out t-shirt prior to Manchester United’s fixture with Stoke City. Ferguson may believe that 34-year-old Ferdinand can play into his late 30s, echoing the careers of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, but with just seven months to run on the central defender’s contract, United face the prospect of losing Ferdinand in the coming summer.

Neither side, it seems, is ready to blink in a game of contract chicken that could run for another six months before a resolution, one way or the other, is found.

Typical with United’s recent policy, a one-year contract extension is likely to be on the table should Ferdinand wish to extend a decade-long stay at Old Trafford. Ferdinand, meanwhile, must swallow pride, accept a reduced status and sacrifice long-term security, in addition to halving his £130,000 per week wages, if he is to stay at the club.

Hard on a man of Ferdinand’s lofty status of course, but this is a recipe now typically followed by leading clubs, including Chelsea who let Didier Drogba leave last summer, and face Ashley Cole’s departure in June 2013. Drogba desired a two-year deal with the west London club; Chelsea stood firm, for better or worse.

Behind the scenes briefing and counter has led to a rash of media stories, with many a leading broadsheet running with the defender’s apparent ‘reluctance’ to sign on at Old Trafford.

Meanwhile, Ferdinand took to Twitter to lambaste press suggestions that he is ‘stalling’ on signing the new deal. Instead, Ferdinand claims, he will wait until after the Christmas programme to decide on his Old Trafford future.

“You just take every week and every month as it comes,” Ferdinand told Inside United.

“The best thing to do is look at it at Christmas, then again in the summer to see how I am feeling and go again from there. I think it has but I will have a better idea in December and January when the games start coming thick and fast. That’s when it really hits you, you know the hard work has to start and you begin to think about the home stretch. I will probably get a better gauge of where I am fitness-wise and the benefit of having the summer off then.”

In reality the debate is a little more nuanced, of course. While Ferdinand has no intention of quitting the game altogether, and has plenty of suitors away from Old Trafford, the defender will surely weigh up his many options should United come up short on the final offer. After all, while Ferdinand is player building for a prosperous future, with media and leisure business interests, he has spent no time in a fine career on the bench.

Different circumstances, of course, but should player and club reach stalemate it will not have been the first time Ferdinand has taken United to the brink over a new contract. Recall, if you will, summer 2005 when Ferdinand seemingly held United to ransom over a new deal – one that eventually took the Peckham-born player past £100,000-per-week in wages.

The affair, just months after the defender spent much of the previous campaign on the sidelines through suspension, brought jeers from the stands and long-running derision in a leading fanzine. After all, United stood by Ferdinand after an eight month ban was imposed by the Football Association for missing a random drugs test. So much for loyalty, Rio, cried the Stretford End.

Ferdinand’s star is neither so high, nor his value so great today. Injuries have reduced the player’s participation in Ferguson’s first team, although a long-standing back injury has proven far less stubborn over the past 18 months. Meanwhile, Ferguson has sought to recruit younger replacements in Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, while Jonny Evans matures with each passing game.

Much like Scholes and Giggs, Ferdinand’s future participation in Ferguson’s thinking is guaranteed only by the fate of others. Smalling, Evans, and Jones will hasten the 34-year-old towards retirement should that cohort develop as planned. Injury, inconsistency and the ill-fortune or hampered development of others has come to Ferdinand’s aid to date.

Yet, Ferguson is apparently keen to retain the veteran’s services. “He has different issues from Giggs and Scholes in terms of injuries,” adds the 70-year-old Scot. “But his experience is important and there is no reason he can’t stay on.”

Which might beg the question why, if Ferdinand is fit, healthy and still in Ferguson’s planning, the club is unlikely to stretch further than a one-year extension. The Peckham-born defender could even point to United’s decision in 2005 to offer Giggs two years, rather than one.

It leaves United to wait on Ferdinand, and for the defender’s people to gamble on the player’s fitness and form. Offers from the United States, China and the Middle East may well come in – as could a romantic offer from West Ham United to return south. And in January Ferdinand will be free to negotiate with whomever he pleases.

Yet, somehow, if the past teaches us anything about Rio, it seems unlikely that the former Leeds United man will depart Old Trafford just yet. Somebody will surely blink first.


Tom - November 14, 2012 Reply

He’s been at fault for a few goals this season because of his lack of pace. Kightly made a mockery of him and Bale went past him like he wasn’t even there. Lower his wages, phase him out like Giggs over a few years and bring in someone new with experience at a high level.

Mongoletsi - November 15, 2012 Reply

Bale outpaces pretty much everybody, what’s your point genius?

Tom - November 15, 2012 Reply

That he should of done a lot better job with dealing with him, thought that was obvious?

Denton Davey - November 14, 2012 Reply

Oddly, a club-decision on Rio’s future is probably dependent on CaptainVidic’s present ability to perform at something approaching his pre-injury level.

Alfonso Bedoya - November 14, 2012 Reply

No… I think both Vidic and Rio are finished with United…

Both are only holding their spots until Evans/Smalling/Jones take them, and that’s only been slowed down by injuries.

Rio will be offered one year, with a pay cut and no promise of starting… take it or leave it. Vidic will be offered the same when the time comes.

Digga - November 14, 2012 Reply

It’s a real shame when top, long serving players finally leave… but Rio’s pace is gone and as good as he was, it’s time to let him go

If he’ll take a one year, reduced wage extension, then great, but his spot in the first team should be given to Smalling… I just can’t see him staying on those terms…

ichiro - November 15, 2012 Reply

Rio’s been our best defender in a difficult period. He has made Evans look good in my opinion. Im not convinced Evans and Smalling are good enough and Phil Jones is more likely to become first choice I reckon. Wouldnt be surprised if Fergie bought an experienced defender in January or this summer either

baggio365 - November 15, 2012 Reply

agree. not totally convinced by any of the ‘kids’ yet. promising but not top class. smalling is the one i think most likely has the potential to be in the very good to world class category. still to be convinced that jones has the discipline to be a centre back. and i just dont trust evans to be able to perform in the biggest games

ferdinand and vidic was one of our finest centre back pairings. vidic has had a wretched run for the last year, as did ferdy for the year prior to that. if vidic comes back in the new year, and the two of them can recreate their partnership of old, despite their lack of pace, they would still be class.

but to be honest, am not really worried about out central defense. like strikers, fergie always knows what to look for in a top class defender. if he wants to phase ferdy, or vidic, out, it either means he has faith in the kids, or has a top class replacement up his sleeve

Mongoletsi - November 15, 2012 Reply

Steve Bruce remains one of our greatest defenders. Slow as fook from an early age. And we all lauded his positioning and reading of the game.

Just saying.

Digga - November 15, 2012 Reply

True enough, Bruce was a great defender. But at the same time, defenders got away with a hell of a lot more back then. Tackles flew in with abandon, and there was no such thing as ‘the last defender rule’. Plus the game is maybe played at a greater pace then it once was.

In my opinion (which admittedly may not be worth much), these factors perhaps don’t allow for defenders to carry on, certainly at the highest level, past a certain age anymore.

uncleknobheadforfucksake - November 15, 2012 Reply

rios the best in the league kompany aside

bman - November 15, 2012 Reply

If we finally have more than two centre backs fit, it might be interesting to try out Rio in midfield, but I suppose it may be a bit late in the day to try to teach him a new position. In any case, I do get the feeling that this may his last season and that Fergie is not that fussed. I think we’ll definitely buy a new centre back in January or the summer.

brianofnazareth - November 16, 2012 Reply

uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
rios WAS the best in the league kompany aside

Corrected for you.

He needs to be offered a one year deal and hopefully we get Vida back to his best.

uncleknobheadforfucksake - November 16, 2012 Reply

whos better than him in the league apart from kompany

vidic isnt even worth mentioning at this point

rio was excellent last season and has been fine so far

sheesh - November 16, 2012 Reply

Rio was horrible against Tottenham. He was responsible for their third goal.

Cahill has looked a better player when di matteo has not been a cock and actually decided to pick him.

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