Rio Ferdinand insists he is capable of playing three games in a row for Manchester United
United take on Bayer Leverkusen in midweek before the Manchester derby on Sunday
Monday 16 September 2013
Rio Ferdinand believes he is fit enough to deal with the physical demands of three high-profile games in a week.
It was a long-held view of Sir Alex Ferguson that Ferdinand's fragile body was unable to get through such a crush of fixtures.
The Scot's policy in such situations tended to revolve around leaving the 34-year-old out of at least one, with Jonny Evans or Chris Smalling standing in.
As it happens, neither Evans nor Smalling have been involved at all so far this season, with Ferdinand paired together with skipper Nemanja Vidic in all four Premier League games.
That included Saturday's win over newly-promoted Crystal Palace, a rather surprising move on Moyes' part given United visit Manchester City on Sunday, after tomorrow's Champions League opener against Bayer Leverkusen.
Yet Ferdinand insists he can cope.
"I feel good," he said.
"The work we did in pre-season has given us a really solid place to work from and a base that will keep us going until the New Year.
"I don't tend to look much beyond a week really. I just continue trying to make sure my pre-training, pre-game and recuperation is all alright.
"Now it is about getting a continuation of games, not just for myself but for the team because it has been a bit stop-start with the internationals."
Ferguson's attitude was shaped by the knowledge he had to try and compete on all fronts, but knew he was secure enough in his own position to withstand any short-term issues.
Moyes does not have that safety net, which is leading him towards a different way forward.
"I have always believed your next game is your most important one," said the Scot.
"That has been my management style and maybe in time I might change my philosophy but that is the way I think at the moment."
Moyes has spoken to Ferguson about the rotation idea and presumably has been passed the knowledge of his predecessor's concerns about Ferdinand, which prompted the central defender to abandon his international career last March.
So far though, Moyes can see no need to worry.
"My view on Rio is how well he has played, how consistent he has been and how fit he has looked," he said.
"Rio knows himself, at his age, when the time is right for him and we give him the opportunity to tell us if he is ready.
"He has been more than ready so far. You can see in the games how well he has done defensively."
A veteran of the 2008 Champions League triumph, Ferdinand was also part of the teams beaten by Barcelona in both the 2009 and 2011 finals.
Mixed in with those showpiece occasions have come controversial defeats to Bayern Munich and Real Madrid that both revolved around dismissals United were adamant should never have happened.
Nani was the unlucky man last term, meaning he is suspended for tomorrow's game.
Yet Ferdinand insists such injustices are not a motivation, for the magnitude of the competition is enough.
"I don't think we need that extra drive," he said.
"Last year we went out under dubious circumstances to say the least but it is not something we will harp on about.
"This season we have to start again afresh. This is a new group. These are new games.
"Last season is out of our minds. It is not something we need to use at all."
Although Moyes is inexperienced in European combat compared to his predecessor, he does seem more suited to a safety-first approach to Champions League games which may well be needed in a tough group that also contains Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Sociedad.
"A group like this probably focuses you a bit more," said Ferdinand.
"You don't have as much chance to rest people when you are in a tough group.
"The key at this point is just to get through to the next stage. Then you can look at the big teams and the drama."
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