Tag Rio Ferdinand

Tag Rio Ferdinand

The defence has it

January 17, 2011 Tags: , , , , Opinion 23 comments

Should Manchester United complete a 19th domestic title come May it will have little to do with star player Wayne Rooney. Nor, though influential, will Nani take the plaudits. Ditto Dimitar Berbatov, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Anderson. Much as United’s attacking players can take overdue credit for becoming the division’s the second highest goalscorers, it is the defence that will win it.

Indeed, so imperious have captain Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand been this season that there is surely no better central defensive partnership in world football. Coupled with Patrice Evra’s status as the finest left-back on the planet, Rafael da Silva’s rapid progress and Edwin van der Sar’s assured composure and United may well land the title despite a paucity of creative options.

United’s strengths and weaknesses were exposed against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, with the Reds watertight in defence despite playing the final quarter with 10 men. At the same time, United created too few chances to win at White Hart Lane as the visitors drew an eighth Premier League match on the road this season.

No wonder Sir Alex Ferguson was fulsome in his praise of his back five, whose control over Rafael van der Vaart, Peter Crouch, Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon was almost total. That Spurs managed just two strikes on target is symptomatic of just how well marshalled Vidic’s colleagues are this season.

“The kind of pressure we were under were just long balls into the box really,” claimed Ferguson today.

“With Ferdinand and Vidic as your centre-backs you know you can cope with that. They were fantastic. The whole back four did really, really well.

“In the context of Tottenham’s home record this season and the performances they have given, we have got to take it as a good point for us.”

Even Rafael, harshly sent off for a second bookable offence with twenty minutes to go, drew praise from colleagues for another mature performance that largely kept Bale at check.

Should United win the title by that single point gained in London then Ferguson will be have much to celebrate. Yet, it is not a single season transformation in United’s play that has seen the Reds become so secure at the back. Critics can – and do – point to the fundamental change in United’s style over the past decade, from the side that scored three against Barcelona, twice, in the swashbuckling 1999 season, to the often overly cautious outfit we see today.

While United did not exactly morphed Jose Mourinho’s Inter at Camp Nou circa Spring 2010, there have been times when the Reds have performed a passable impression. It is not the ‘United way’ perhaps but one that fans have become accustomed too over the past decade.

Part of United’s metamorphosis over the years is down to Ferguson’s obsession with performing in Europe. Largely it has worked. Yet, much of the Reds’ style this season is surely down to the dearth of attacking creative talent in the squad, with Rooney too often anonymous, Nani still inconsistent, Antonio Valencia injured and Paul Scholes’ legs finding no friend in father time.

It showed against Spurs, with the Reds managing just seven shots – on target or not – in the match. No enough for the pretenders to Chelsea’s thrown. Similar sterile performances have been evident in many of United’s away fixtures at home and abroad this season.

“We didn’t bother them too much,” admitted Ferguson

“We had one or two good opportunities at times when we got to the last third of the field but we just didn’t quite have the cutting edge. In the second half Anderson attacked the back four four times and maybe his selection of pass or a shot on goal would have been better.”

It is, always has been and one wonders whether it always will be the Brazilian’s principal failing. For a player so widely touted – including by Ferguson himself – as the natural successor to Scholes, Anderson does not score, nor create goals or even retain possession more than three-quarters of the time.

In defence United’s resources will be stretched in coming games, with Rafael set to miss at least one match, possibly more, after the Football Association charged the 20-year-old defender with improper conduct today. Little wonder after the youngster both disputed referee Mike Dean’s erroneous decision and then refused to promptly leave the field.

“It was Mary Decker and Zola Budd,” said Spurs’ manager Harry Redknapp in the Brazilian’s defence.

“He was just running and he has clipped Benoît’s heels. He has not broken his stride and stuck a leg out, saying ‘I’ll trip him’. He was trying to get out of the way.”

But with Rafael out, John O’Shea injured and Wes Brown all but forgotten at Old Trafford, Ferguson may turn to the Brazilian’s brother Fabio, who featured in United reserves’ 8-0 win over Bury this week. Often touted as the more talented sibling, Fabio’s progress has been hampered by Evra’s outstanding form and persistent injuries.

With Rafael set to miss fixtures against Birmingham City and potentially Blackpool in the coming week, Fabio’s ability to integrate into United’s outstanding back-five will be severely tested. As will United’s title credentials.

Rooney misses three weeks

September 28, 2010 Tags: , , , Shorts 9 comments

Wayne Rooney will miss three weeks and four games with the ankle injury that has kept the striker out of tomorrow”s Champions League game with Valencia. Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed that Rooney’s injury is worse than initially thought, with the striker out of games against Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion.

The striker will also sit out England’s Euro2014 qualifier against Montenegro at Wembley on 12 October, although Ferguson says that the injury is less serious than the one he suffered in March.

“Wayne has done quite well with his recovery from injury in the past,” said Ferguson.

“It is a straightforward ankle injury. And it is not the same one he did in Munich.”

Meanwhile, midfielder Paul Scholes, who also misses the Valencia fixture with a calf injury, will be on the sidelines for around 10 days, almost certainly sitting out United’s weekend trip to Sunderland.

Ferguson is also without Ryan Giggs for the next fortnight in what may prove a pivotal test of United’s midfield strength-in-depth for the testing double-header with Valencia and then the trip to the Stadium of Light.

The Scot also confirmed that he will make a late decision on the fitness of Rio Ferdinand, who travelled with the party to Spain but has featured in just one match this season.

Rio returns to rally Reds

September 2, 2010 Tags: , , Shorts 13 comments

Rio Ferdinand completed 45 minutes in Manchester United Reserves’ 2-1 victory over Oldham Athletic last night as the England captain returns from a knee injury sustained at the World Cup. Ferdinand, 31, played in a strong reserves outfit that also included the returning Anderson, Wes Brown and Federico Macheda.

Reserves coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says that Ferdinand is already ready for a recall to the first team, after completing the first half in the Manchester Senior Cup clash at Bower Fold, Stalybridge.

“Today was about distances and getting tighter to the ball. He is available for selection again,” said Solskjaer.

“Rio is always the same player. It is a while since he has played but he was still calm.

“He has got through an important 45 minutes, straight after two very hard training sessions yesterday and the day before so we are delighted with him.”

“It was always planned that he would play 45 minutes. I am not sure he needs any more games. Rio is a naturally fit lad.”

Sir Alex Ferguson can now select the defender for United’s visit to Everton on 11 September, before his side faces Rangers and Liverpool at Old Trafford. Midfielder Anderson and defender Brown could also be available for the fixtures as United’s injury list shortens.

Defender Brown played 90 minutes as he returns from yet another injury. The 30-year-old also completed a lifelong dream, partnering his brother Reese in defence, with the younger sibling replacing Ferdinand at half time.

Second half goals from Nicky Ajose and Kiko Macheda secured a 2-1 win for United.

Reds’ World Cup stars dropping like flies

June 8, 2010 Tags: , , International 1 comment

Rio Ferdinand’s withdrawal from England’s World Cup squad with knee ligament damage was followed today by Portugal’s Nani, who suffered a bruised collar bone in training. Manchester United’s World Cup contingent is now seven; heartache for the players who have dropped out to date, delight for manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Nani picked up the injury on Friday in Lisbon after an attempted overhead kick during training. The winger, who was in superb form for United in the second half of last season, fell heavily before being rushed to hospital for tests.

With neither injury to Ferdinand nor Nani considered long-term, both players could be fit for pre-season training, which begins in Chicago on 12 July. Ferdinand will miss four to six weeks, while Nani’s exclusion from Portugal’s squad was only confirmed after three days of medical tests.

“Following the injury suffered by Nani, which involves his left collar bone, and daily assessment of the injury and additional medical tests, we have concluded that the player is no longer competitive,” said a Portuguese FA statement today.

“The medical file will be sent to Manchester United’s medical team. In light of the report, the Portuguese Football Federation, taking into account the FIFA regulations for the 2010 World Cup, will call-up Ruben Amorim as a replacement.”

While Ferdinand remains in South Africa with Fabio Capello’s England squad, offering the travelling media ample photo opportunities and his colleagues moral support, Nani has already been replaced in Portugal’s squad by midfielder Amorim.

Nani joined colleagues on the sidelines for Portugal’s match with Mozambique at Johannesburg’s Bidvest Wanderers Stadium this afternoon, before returning to Lisbon later today, according to local media reports.

Rio Ferdinand

United’s World Cup contingent is one of the smallest parties from the Old Trafford club in recent years, reflecting the retirements of Paul Scholes, Edwin van der Sar and Ryan Giggs, and long-term injuries to Michael Owen, Anderson and Owen Hargreaves.

Indeed, Ferguson will not complain that so few of his squad will compete in the tournament this summer, with only Javier Hernandéz, Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidic, Zoran Tosic, Patrice Evra and Park Ji-Sung likely to start games, with Michael Carrick a probable substitute against USA on Saturday.

The smart money says that of the group the English, French and Serbian players are most likely to qualify for the tournament’s knock-out stages and therefore miss United’s pre-season tour to the US, Canada and Mexico in its entirety.

Ferguson has promised to give each player 28 days rest before beginning an individual pre-season programme as has been customary after previous tournaments.

“I’m going to have a big squad of first-team players,” Ferguson said recently.

“So it’s not a problem for me. I know, the experience of World Cups in the past, having to deal with the aftermath of it is always difficult. They need a rest.”

Meanwhile, Serbia defender Vidic could miss the Bella Ovi’s opening fixture against Ghana in Pretoria with a virus, according to coach Radomir Antic. The White Eagles are considered one of the tournament’s dark horses, with a side built on an outstanding back-four marshalled by Vidic.

Picasso, Rothko, Hurst and Rooney

April 9, 2010 Tags: , , , Just for fun No comments

When football is oft described as art those commentators probably didn’t mean this. Premier League World, the magazine TV show, has organised a one-off book, to be auctioned for charity, of drawings by footballers themselves. Unbelievably these drawings aren’t from when the players were in nursery!

Wayne Rooney. Credit: Premier League World / PA Wire

Ryan Giggs. Credit: Premier League World / PA Wire.

Rio Ferdinand. Credit: Premier League World / PA Wire.

Rio Ferdinand. Credit: Premier League World / PA Wire.

Michael Owen. Credit: Premier League World / PA Wire.

Michael Owen. Credit: Premier League World / PA Wire.

Rio blow a disaster for United’s hopes

February 24, 2010 Tags: Opinion No comments

Let there be no doubt, a cold chill of fear will seep through Sir Alex Ferguson’s veins today. England captain Rio Ferdinand’s omission from the Scot’s matchday squad yesterday after the defender felt a twinge in his fragile back at Carrington Tuesday morning represents a huge blow for club and player alike.

“He felt a twinge in his back this morning. We did a warm-up at Carrington this morning and he felt a twinge,” said Ferguson in the aftermath of United’s 3-0 win over West Ham United at Old Trafford last night.

“We couldn’t risk it of course. He’s had twinges before and we can’t take any chances. He won’t be ready for Sunday. It is unfortunate for him that he’s going to miss a couple of games.

“”Rio has been training great – there had been no mishaps at all.”

The defender will now miss at least Sunday’s Carling Cup final and presumably England’s friendly with Egypt too. But the fear that the defender’s injury is much worse than a two game absence must pervade. History, when it comes to Ferdinand’s back, points to a lengthy time in the treatment room for the 30-year-old former-Leeds United defender.

Ferdinand, who has featured in just 11 United games this season, has suffered recurring back-related problems since the FIFA Club World Cup in December 2008. Missing more than 50 per cent of United matches in that time, Ferdinand’s injury is highly disruptive to the player’s form and Ferguson’s tactical thinking.

The defender’s calm assurance at the heart of United’s defence cannot be underestimated in a season where United has lost nine times in all competitions – most without Rio in the side.

In the Rio’s absence Nemanja Vidic, Wes Brown and Jonny Evans have each featured but only when fit enough to play themselves. Vidic, superb against West Ham United on Tuesday, has played in just 19 United games after being sidelined with a mysterious nerve injury. Brown, never the most reliable when it comes to fitness, has played 28 and Evans, who suffered a serious ankle injury earlier this campaign has played 23.

But that’s not really the point. Stats aside, Evans’ potential and Brown’s heart cannot match just yet Rio’s class and experience. Ferdinand is absolutely central to United’s ability to maintain parity with the club’s leading challengers, at home and especially abroad.

Should Ferdinand’s injury not clear up within the week the defender will miss Sunday’s match with Aston Villa, the Premier League clash with Wolverhampton Wanders and potentially the Champions League second leg against AC Milan at Old Trafford.

Even if by some miracle Ferdinand returns early then he still has just 10 Premier League games to play himself into form and match fitness before the season ends, hopefully, with a Champions League final in Madrid on 22 May.

Better news came from Vidic whose performance offered some classy professionalism to United’s rearguard after the shambolic defending at Everton last weekend.

“It is nice to be back,” said the Serbian, who featured for the first time in 2010 last night.

“It’s a long time since I last played and I didn’t feel any reaction, so I am very happy. This year has been very frustrating. When I finished last season, I thought this one would be even better.

“But I missed pre-season, then had this injury and have been out for another two months recently.

“I hope it is all in the past now and I can look forward to the next few games.”

Ferguson will need him and then, with no new contract signed and Vidic free to leave in 2012, the Scot may find himself needing to replace two experience central defenders in the summer.

Ferdinand’s big test as Vidic lets United down

February 16, 2010 Tags: , Matches No comments

New England captain Rio Ferdinand heads into tonight’s Champions League clash with AC Milan keen to re-assert his authority on the biggest stage. The defender, sidelined for three months with a back injury and banned in for four matches domestic football, may start against the Italians tonight.

With Nemanja Vidic ruling himself out the match tonight – an injury that Sir Alex Ferguson classes as mental and not physical – the Scot may call on Ferdinand to bring calm to the inevitable San Siro storm.

It’s a difficult call for Ferguson, with Jonny Evans and Wes Brown ably deputising in recent matches. Deploying Ferdinand, seen as a risk by the manager, is offset against the experience at the highest level that the defender adds.

“I certainly hope he is all right until the end of the season, we have done a lot of work and he has too,” said Ferguson of Ferdinand yesterday.

“Even non-sportsmen know how difficult back injuries can be but he has had no problem since he started back 10 weeks ago.

“He has done his core work, which has helped him and he will probably start.”

Ferdinand’s injury problems began during the FIFA Club World Cup in December 2008, causing the defender to appear in just 13 games for United this season.

Ferdinand returned for United in United’s recent match with Hull City but received a four match ban for striking Craig Fagan with an arm. He missed United’s victories over Portsmouth and Arsenal, and the draw with Aston Villa. The defender, 30, will also sit out United’s game with Everton but will play in the Carling Cup final.

Should Ferdinand play Wes Brown is likely to shift to right-back, with the inexperienced Brazil ianRafael da Silva dropping to the bench.

Meanwhile, Vidic pulled himself out of United’s travelling party to Milan – not the first time the giant Serbian has done so this campaign. It’s a policy that has led to an increasingly exasperated Ferguson.

The Guardian reports today that the Serbian’s decision was against the advice of United’s medical staff, with Vidic having trained for 10 days in a row.

“It’s a difficult one because he feels he needs to do a lot of training,” Ferguson said of 28-year-old Vidic.

“He has been training for the last 10 days but he still does not feel he is ready to take part in games.

“That’s something we just have to be patient with and that’s what we are doing at the moment.”

Ferguson was also forced to deny that Vidic is on the move this summer. The defender has been linked with moves to AC Milan, Real Madrid and Barcelona in recent months.

“A lot of clubs want to buy our players,” added Ferguson.

“Of course we want him to stay. He’s a great player, one of the best centre-backs in the world. Of course we want to keep him.”

However, as Rant reported this weekend, there is an increasing feeling that the Serbian’s commitment to the club is questionable at best.

Poll: Rio right for England job?

February 5, 2010 Tags: , , , Polls 2 comments

The king is dead; long live the king. Rio Ferdinand is the new England captain following manager Fabio Capello’s decision to sack John Terry this afternoon. Terry, caught cheating on his wife for the umpteenth time, found his position ‘untenable’ – to abuse the much overused cliché.

Fabio appointed Ferdinand with immediate effect and Steven Gerrard will step up to vice-captain. But is it the right choice?

Ferdinand, frequently Manchester United captain when fit, has appeared just eight times this season for the Reds, with a long-term back complaint requiring lengthy osteopathic treatment. There’s certainly no guarantee that the former-West Ham United player will make the plane to South Africa this summer.

Rant’s choice was Wayne Rooney – United and England’s talismanic striker, who would lead by example. What’s yours?

Is Rio the right choice for England captain?

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No chance of Ferdinand appeal succeeding

January 27, 2010 Tags: , Shorts 2 comments

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand will face a Football Association hearing on Thursday in the knowledge that he will serve at least a three match ban. The player, who has appeared just once for United since 25 October, risks an extended suspension if the FA disciplinary committee decides his appeal his ‘frivolous’.

Ferdinand’s decision, made with manager Sir Alex Ferguson, means that the England international is free to play against Manchester City tonight, before starting his suspension ahead of the Arsenal game on Sunday, with Portsmouth and Aston Villa to come. The FA, which will dismiss any appeal, can add an up to a further two games to the suspension. In that case Ferdinand would miss the Carling Cup final.

Video evidence, which shows Ferdinand striking Hull City’s Craig Fagan with an arm, means that the former-West Ham United player must plead either precedent or accident at the hearing. Liverpool’s Javier Mascherano faced no sanction after clearly striking a Leeds United player in the Carling Cup earlier this season.

Rio Ferdinand versus Hull City

Javier Mascherano versus Leeds United (47 seconds)

FA charges Ferdinand with violent conduct

January 26, 2010 Tags: , Shorts 2 comments

The Football Association has charged Rio Ferdinand with violent conduct after the defender’s clash with Hull City’s Craig Fagan at the weekend. Ferdinand, appearing in his first Manchester United match since 25 October, will serve a three match ban, with the FA acting as prosecutor, judge and jury in disciplinary cases.

Ferdinand, 30, has appeared just nine times this season while undergoing a comprehensive rehabilitation programme to cure a long-term back problem. However, the defender appeared to swing an arm at Hull’s Fagan during a tussle in the United area during the match, which the home side won 4-0.

The charge will be heard on 28 January, with Ferdinand likely to miss United’s matches against Arsenal, Portsmouth and Aston Villa after the decision is made.

However, the FA once again stands accused of hypocrisy by charging a United player with an offence when the governing body missed earlier incidents. Compare Ferdinand’s challenge to that of Liverpool’s Javier Mascherano, below.

Rio Ferdinand versus Hull City

Javier Mascherano versus Leeds United (47 seconds)