Ferguson on defensive as critics write off Ferdinand
Manager insists support is all his centre-back needs to rediscover finest form / Owen to start in attack against CSKA tonight after Rooney becomes a father
Tuesday 03 November 2009
Sir Alex Ferguson was back defending his underperforming centre-half Rio Ferdinand yesterday, saying that, despite evidence and comments to the contrary from within the game, there was "no depreciation in his qualities".
The Manchester United manager also offered a revealing insight into his man-management skills when he said Ferdinand was in need of an arm around his shoulder. Ferguson also admitted that Ferdinand has, as his agent Pini Zahavi said on Friday, been turning out when less than fit. "Playing with injuries is not the easiest thing to do, but of course we will try to get that right," the United manager said.
Ferguson felt the need to defend his player following suggestions this weekend from Graham Taylor that Ferdinand had "lost his legs" and that his travails for England in Ukraine and United at Anfield over the last month demonstrated that his loss of pace was irreversible. "I just don't think he is – or will be – the wonderful player he once was," Taylor said. But Ferguson countered yesterday saying there was "no discernible depreciation in his qualities, none for me at all".
Ferguson's initial attempts to shake Ferdinand out of his malaise led him to employ shock tactics two weeks ago, when he suggested that "with his ability and experience he should be coping" with the situations he was mishandling. But his manager evidently feels sympathy is now a requirement for his defender, 31 next Saturday, who may miss Sunday's visit to Stamford Bridge as well as tonight's Champions League tie with CSKA Moscow at Old Trafford with a calf injury.
"We've always had a situation where one of the star players hits a little blip and he is going to get criticism," Ferguson said. "That's all part of being a player at United. With Rio, no player likes to be criticised. They like to be loved and have arms around their shoulders at times, but he will come out of it, no question about that."
Reports of Ferdinand's fitness have been contradictory. In the spring, the player said that a back injury meant that he would have to do morning gym sessions for the rest of his career. But with England in Ukraine last month, he said that the extra gym sessions were behind him. Some eye-catching explanations of Ferdinand's injuries – Ferguson said he might have strained his back on a flight home from England's friendly in Amsterdam in August – have added to the enigma. The United manager, whose side can advance to the knockout stages by beating tonight's visitors, said he was not prepared to take risks with Ferdinand. "Calf injuries can be troublesome and, if you don't arrest them and give them proper treatment, you can end up with players playing games when they are not 100 per cent," he said.
Wes Brown and Jonny Evans will form United's central defensive duo, possibly in preparation for Chelsea with Nemanja Vidic still undergoing treatment on his own calf problem and suspended for Sunday. Darren Fletcher returns after his foot injury. Wayne Rooney's wife Coleen gave birth to their first child, Kai Wayne, at 2.20pm yesterday, though Ferguson may still prefer to give Michael Owen a second Champions League start and leave Rooney to his parenting. The decision may hinge on Dimitar Berbatov's reaction to treatment on an injured knee.
Latest in Sport
Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs posts bizarre video of his Miami holiday being invaded by an iguana
British Grand Prix 2015: What time does it start, where can I watch it and are tickets still available?
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germany in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Why is it that there’s no women’s team at Manchester United? - Michael Calvin
Chelsea transfer news: Diego Costa wants a reunion with £25m Manchester United target Arda Turan... because he loves his kebabs
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture