Manchester United manager David Moyes labelled reports that claimed veteran defender Rio Ferdinand wouldn't be flying out to Dubai with the team for warm-weather training as 'absolute nonsense' in a short pre-match press conference ahead of the trip to Arsenal.
Ferdinand has found himself out of David Moyes’ selection plans in recent weeks and with his contract set to expire at the end of the season, it is believed that the former England captain will call time on his career in order to pursue a new career as a football analyst towards the end of this season.
But responding to reports in The Sun, Ferdinand's representatives confirmed that he will be attending the warm-weather training in Dubai with the rest of the team.
And Moyes added that any suggestion that he wouldn't be joining the team is "a load of rubbish".
"I can only tell you what was written was a load of rubbish," said Moyes.
Ferdinand also gave his opinion on the matter via his Twitter account. In addition to a putdown of the author of the story about him not going, he wrote: "Must be another slow news day."
United will be focused on Wednesday’s trip to London first though, as they prepare to face Arsenal with the aim of bouncing back from Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Fulham.
It could transpire that Ferdinand becomes the latest United defender to confirm his Old Trafford exit at the end of the season, following club captain Nemanja Vidic’s decision to move on to pastures new when his deal runs out in the summer. The centre-back pairing may not be the only ones to leave, given that France international Patrice Evra will also be out of contract at the end of the season.
Manchester United 2013/14 - a season of new lows
Manchester United 2013/14 - a season of new lows
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West Brom won at Old Trafford for the first time since 1978. None of the Baggies squad that day were born when they had previously won at United
2/10 Man United 0 Everton 1 (4 Dec)
Bryan Oviedo's goal gave Everton their first victory at Old Trafford for 21 years
3/10 Man United 0 Newcastle 1 (7 Dec)
Yohan Cabaye scores as Newcastle end their run of 41 years without a win at Old Trafford
4/10 Man United 1 Tottenham 2 (1 Jan)
United lose on New Year's Day for the first time in 20 years
5/10 Man United 1 Swansea 2 (5 Jan)
Wilfried Bony's late header sees United knocked out out of the FA Cup at the third round for only the second time in 30 years
6/10 Sunderland 2 Man United 1 (7 Jan)
United lose three matches in the month of January for the first time in 40 years after League Cup first-leg defeat
7/10 Chelsea 3 Man United 1 (19 Jan)
Samuel Eto'o became the first player to score a hat-trick against United when the club were were reigning Premier League champions
8/10 Stoke 2 Man United 1 (1 Feb)
Stoke defeat United in a league match for the first time in 30 years
9/10 Man United 2 Fulham 2 (9 Feb)
United fail to beat the team ranked at the bottom of the league since 2011
10/10 Olympiakos 2 Man United 0 (25 Feb)
United lose to a Greek team for the first time ever. They had previously gone unbeaten in all eight previous European matches against teams from Greece
Ferdinand was on the bench for Sunday’s Premier League fixture but did not come on as United failed to hold on to their lead when former England striker Darren Bent scored five minutes into injury time. It is believed that talks have not taken place over extending Ferdinand’s contract, amid reports that he is set to fill the chief analyst role with BT Sport that has been kept free for him.
Ferdinand joined United in 2002 for a then-club record £29.1m from Leeds United, and has since made 445 appearances for the Red Devils during which time he became one of England’s outstanding defenders in recent history.
During his time at the Theatre of Dreams, Ferdinand contributed to six Premier League titles, the 2008 Champions League triumph and two League Cups among other successes, as well as accumulating 81 England caps during his career.
However, his Three Lions career ended on a sour note due to the racism row between his brother Anton Ferdinand and Chelsea’s John Terry – Ferdinand’s long-time partner at the heart of the England defence.
There had been talk of a comeback last season under Roy Hodgson after Terry’s retirement, only for the United defender to call time on his international career when he looked likely to be selected for their World Cup qualifiers.
Moyes now faces the task of rebuilding a United back-four that has stood together for a number of years, with former striker Andy Cole claiming that the Scot will have to invest around £200m in order to return the club to the top of the table.
Speaking to The Sun, Cole said: “When you have a situation where Manchester City are prepared to spend £50m on two centre-halves, then you have to consider the possibility that United may go out and spend £200m this summer.
“Chelsea, very easily, could spend another £100m.
“In order to catch up, United are going to have to go big, match City's spending — and even if they do, you still don't know if they will win next season's title.”
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