Rio Ferdinand not distracted by treble talk

Rio Ferdinand insists the possibility of becoming a Manchester United treble hero is not a motivation ahead of tonight's Champions League showdown with Chelsea at Old Trafford.

Despite being derided as a pale imitation of previous United teams, Sir Alex Ferguson's present squad are preparing for their all-English quarter-final decider still in which a chance of emulating the men of 1999 by lifting the club game's three biggest prizes.

Yet, according to Ferdinand, the subject has not even been discussed in the Red Devils dressing room.

"The treble is not a motivation," he said.

"Our motivation is each competition. If that amounts to winning the double, a single trophy each year or the treble so be it.

"I don't think the players who won the treble were saying 'this is it, we want to win the treble'.

"It is about making sure this club wins a trophy every year. If you win one and you see another one, you want to try and win that."

Ferdinand has endured yet another campaign scarred by injury.

The 32-year-old had been sidelined by a calf problem sustained in the warm-up prior to Manchester United's shock defeat at Wolves on February 5.

At one point, his recovery prospects seemed so bleak Ferguson hinted Ferdinand might not be back for the rest of the season.

But that Sunday at Carrington, the deposed England skipper was delivering a message. It was exactly what Ferguson wanted to hear.

"You only drive half a mile from our training ground to the complex where the youth team games are played for one reason," said Ferguson.

"I said to the guy next to me 'he wants to play'. I was pleased because I was praying he would be fit."

Ferguson means no slight on Chris Smalling.

The former Fulham youngster has far exceeded the expectations United had for him when he joined the club this summer but Ferguson knew how crucial Ferdinand's experience could be at Stamford Bridge - and he wasn't disappointed.

"That was probably one of his best performances in a United jersey," said Ferguson. "It was magnificent.

"At his age, we don't expect Chris Smalling to be directing and shouting at players. Rio does that really well.

"He has composure on the ball. He didn't panic. He handled everything.

"I knew it would happen because all the incentives were there. Adrenaline. Coming back into the team. The importance of the occasion. It was ideal for Rio."