To his manager anyone who wears that particular red shirt will be anathema, but Rio Ferdinand has flirted with the unmentionable, from a Manchester United perspective, by suggesting that Liverpool players were the ones he admired more than Old Trafford's as a child.
"As a kid, Liverpool were the team that were doing well, with the likes of John Barnes and John Aldridge, and United weren't really winning anything," Ferdinand said. "On my estate, all my mates were Liverpool fans. But I was more a fan of players than clubs. Players like John Barnes, Paul Ince, Paul Gascoigne. But as soon as United came in for me, it was a no-brainer. I feared that, if I didn't take the opportunity, I might never get it again."
The Manchester derby is 12 days away but Ferdinand has also made his contribution to the debate surrounding his club's neighbours' big-spending summer, declaring that the city "isn't big enough for two big teams".
Ferdinand's comments are delivered with considerably less distaste for the Premier League's big spenders than Sir Alex Ferguson's persistently were this summer. "They have very loyal supporters that have been crying out for success over the years," Ferdinand also said. But he clearly shares Ferguson's view that success may not be as imminent as City hope: "Money doesn't buy success sometimes. Time will tell how successful they will be."
Ferdinand's interview, for his club's TV channel, covered wide ground, including the ballet lessons he received as a child. "I didn't tell anyone for years, until I was about 15 or 16 and could handle myself properly," revealed Ferdinand, who expects to be back in United's side for this weekend's visit to Tottenham. "I used to hang around with kids who were older than me, so if I'd told them when I was 12, I'd have got mullered! I used to say I was going to drama school, but when you get to 15 or 16, you don't really care what people think. It's elegant and you have to be flexible, know the moves, the right notes and the timing."
Ferdinand also attempted to put to bed an old story abut him having insisted, several years before signing on at Old Trafford, that he would never do so. "It was the one and only time I've ever been to Magaluf [on Majorca] and United had just beaten Newcastle in the 1999 Cup final," Ferdinand said. "Some geezer came up to me in a toilet and said, 'I bet you'd love to be at United', and I just said I would never, ever play for them. It was just pure jealousy, but deep down, when United come knocking you can't say no."
The England international also spoke of his belief that Michael Owen can emerge for United this season. "With Michael Owen, a lot of United fans were thinking of all the injuries that he's had," Ferdinand said. "I'm sure he will score goals. If you look at his strike rate, it's one of the best in the Premier League."Reuse content