The Sun is reporting that Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is facing the axe from the Manchester United first team at the weekend, due to his continued poor form. The article claims that Sir Alex Ferguson perceives that the England man has lost a couple of yards of pace and that the added off field distractions Ferdinand has outside of football, are taking their toll on the United legend.
It isn’t the first time Ferdinand has been criticised in such a way. Early in his career, while it was recognised that he had undoubted potential and ability, he was also lambasted by many for showing a lack of concentration that led to many problems for both West Ham United and Leeds. However during his time at Leeds and subsequently at Manchester United, that Ferdinand proved himself to be one of England’s, and Europe’s, best defenders, showing new levels of maturity and concentration that had him touted as one of the best defenders in the world for many years.
However his form this season has been shocking. Solely responsible for the conceeding of several goals for club and country this term, it seems, according to the Sun at least, that manager Sir Alex Ferguson is now sharpening the axe to take Ferdinand out of the team and give young Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans an extended run in the team alongside Nemanja Vidic. The Sun then proclaims that this will have a disasterous effect on Rio Ferdinand’s England chances and could well see him miss out on the chance to represent his country at the World Cup Finals in South Africa next summer.
It all makes wonderful sensationalist headlines, but sadly a quick investigation of the facts doesn’t bear this out. With Nemanja Vidic suspended for his sending off at Anfield, it seems unlikely that Sir Alex will drop Rio Ferdinand too and go with an entirely new pairing of Evans and probably O’Shea. United are unlikely to field anything more than a reserve side for their Carling Cup clash tonight against Barnsley, a game in which Ferdinand would not have played anyway and although the Sun feels differently, my money is on Ferdinand being in place for United’s next league game against Blackburn at Old Trafford.
Why? Well, quite simply despite his poor form, Rio Ferdinand is still a quality defender. While some critics are rushing to lambaste Ferdinand for his performance at Anfield, let’s not forget that it was against Fernando Torres and let us not also forget that, if anything, the supposedly unflappable Nemanja Vidic was far more culpable than Ferdinand for Liverpool’s goals both in the game last weekend and also the 4-1 defeat at Old Trafford.
Ferdinand has proven in the past he can bounce back from situations such as this. He may need to make some changes to his lifestyle outside of football to aid him, but with a final chance of participating in the World Cup Finals coming up, not to mention the Fergie hairdryer treatment, I would strongly back him to return to form shortly.
But what do you think? Is Rio’s time over? Is he more a liability than an asset? Is Evans and Vidic really the long term solution?
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