Man United recovery no suprise to Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand insists Manchester United's rapid rise up the Premier League has not taken him by surprise.

It is just a calendar month since United were spinning towards a damaging defeat at Aston Villa at the end of a week that had started with a narrow escape against Wolves and a tame derby draw with Manchester City.



United appeared incapable of sustaining a title challenge and major questions were being asked of the quality in Sir Alex Ferguson's squad.



The turnaround in fortunes since then has been staggering.



In the final 10 minutes, goals from Federico Macheda and Nemanja Vidic secured a point even Ferguson admitted his side did not deserve at Villa Park.



That result has been followed by three successive wins, including a seven-goal mauling of Blackburn and last night's deserved success over Arsenal, and as their rivals have struggled, now United find themselves two points clear and also have a match in hand thanks to that postponed trip to Blackpool earlier this month.



Most Red Devils supporters are scratching their heads at exactly how it has happened.



But Ferdinand insists he never lost faith.



"I do believe it," he said.



"When I look around the changing room I see a fantastic bunch of players.



"I never doubt them or what they are capable of.



"If we concentrate and are focussed on doing the things we are asked, we are difficult to play against."



In a season when the input of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville has reduced markedly, Ferguson's present side are proving they retain the same obdurate traits.



Whilst at Villa they required fortitude and a refusal to accept defeat, last night was more about defensive discipline.



The balance of play may have favoured Arsenal but clear cut chances mostly fell United's way.



Indeed, Arsenal's only clear sight of goal came when Edwin van der Sar parried Samir Nasri's shot into the path of Marouane Chamakh, only for skipper Nemanja Vidic to make an excellent block.



"I have always maintained it is not just about defending as a back four and a goalkeeper," said Ferdinand, who scooped the man-of-the-match prize.



"We score together and we concede together. If we are defending right from the front we are a hard team to play against.



"The game plan was get in their faces and put pressure on them.



"We couldn't afford to give a team like Arsenal time. If you do that they will hurt you because they have quality players all over the park.



"I am glad to say we didn't."



Victory extended United's unbeaten start to 16 matches, a new club record.



More importantly, they can approach Sunday's trip to Chelsea relieved of pressure knowing it would not be a disaster if they found themselves held to what would be an eighth draw of the campaign.



Ferguson even had the satisfaction of leaving Dimitar Berbatov on the bench for the entire game, the first United had played in the league since he scored five against Rovers.



It is decisions such as that which maybe prove United have more strength in depth than most observers believe, and could yet propel them towards a coveted 19th championship.



Not that Ferdinand is allowing himself to look too far ahead, or read too much into statistics.



"It is not about trying to go through the season unbeaten," said the England skipper.



"It is about what you finish up with at the end of the year.



"This was a very big result for us. It is not a defining result but it is the kind of result you are looking for against one of the teams who are also at the top of the table.



"Last year we probably didn't do as well against the big teams as we should have. This was a good way to start."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A recent rise in net migration has been considered bad news for the Government
voicesYet when we talk about it, the national media goes into a frenzy, says Nigel Farage
Life and Style
Miracle muffin: chemicals can keep a muffin looking good at least a month after it was bought
food + drinkThe alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Sport
Jonny Evans and Papiss Cisse come together
football
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star