Why Man United shouldn’t offer Rio Ferdinand a new deal
Sharethematch.com takes a look at Manchester United's imminent decision to hand Rio Ferdinand a contract extension
Last November, Sir Alex Ferguson instructed Rio Ferdinand to “tailor his game” in order to prevent the young guns – namely Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans – from usurping his position as Manchester United’s commanding centre-back.
But now the fear is that the Red Devils are tailoring their game to suit the 33-year-old.
Ferguson admitted that his aging defender had lost a yard of pace from five years ago, and Evans, who isn’t exactly the quickest player at Old Trafford, is now responsible for the main injection of pace in front of United’s box.
This foible was brutally exposed during United’s European surrender to Athletic Bilbao earlier this month, when Fernando Llorente effortlessly peeled away from Ferdinand to receive a 50-yard pass and volley beyond David De Gea in the second leg.
Then right back Andoni Iraola danced around both Ferdinand and Evans but shot just inches wide.
While his performances have been both adequate and necessary, due to a series of injuries to United’s rearguard, the decision to offer him a new contract to extend his Old Trafford career beyond next season is incomprehensible.
Ferdinand, who turns 34 in November, would be the latest recruit to United’s Dad’s Army.
Ryan Giggs’ loss of pace has hardly been noticeable in his impressive transformation over the last five years, while Paul Scholes has never been dependent on a sharp turn of foot.
Further still, any midfielder who loses their acceleration can adapt their game much more intuitively than a defender, who can be brutally exposed once they reach Ferdinand’s age.
It is only a matter of time before he gets caught out one-on-one on the half-way line – it almost happened against Liverpool when Luis Suárez was a split-second away from racing towards United’s box.
Ferguson’s men have responded by sitting deeper to compensate.
With Nemanja Vidic, Evans, Smalling and Jones, Ferguson should have enough cover, and would be very unfortunate to lose Smalling and Jones as many times as he has done this season again.
Of course, if Vidic avoided his season-ending injury last December, who’s to say Ferdinand would not have become Dimitar Berbatov’s best friend on the bench?
Signing up the £115,000-a-week veteran to 2014 sends out the wrong message. By then, Giggs, Scholes, and maybe even Ferguson could be out of the Old Trafford scenery.
It is time to banish Ferdinand to the stands, and promote United’s youngsters.