Ferguson wants Rio to stay

  • Last Updated: January 25 2013, 22:48 GMT

Sir Alex Ferguson has told Rio Ferdinand his ability is not under question even though Manchester United are only prepared to offer him a one-year contract extension.

Rio Ferdinand: Still a key player at Old Trafford

Ferdinand's present deal expires at the end of the season and it is believed the 34-year-old has already been the subject of interest from Major League Soccer and the Far East.

However, Ferguson remains confident Ferdinand will extend his 11-year stay with the Red Devils even though it is obvious there will be no budging on the one-year extension he will be offered.

Having gone through the same process with Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, Ferguson feels his one-time record signing should be aware of the process.

"There is nothing wrong with us giving players one-year contracts," he said.

"Players with the reputation and ability of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand should not worry about that.

"It is quite straightforward. It is not to say we doubt them but it is natural you never know how they cope with getting older. Some do, some don't."

Ferdinand seems to be doing pretty well, having found a way to master the back problems that caused him such aggravation when they surfaced four years ago and led to so many spells on the sidelines.

Now, with his England career brought to a controversial end by Roy Hodgson, Ferdinand can concentrate solely on Manchester United matters.

And, as Ferguson outlined, he is impressing at the heart of the Red Devils' defence.

"Rio has had a great season," said Ferguson.

Rio Ferdinand

5. Rio Ferdinand

Title Number
Appearances 3 (0)
Goals 0
Assists 0
Yellows 0
Reds 0
*Current Season

"Obviously he doesn't play every game but we prepare him for certain situations."

And that means Ferdinand could still be patrolling the United rearguard for a good while yet.

"Defenders, if they look after themselves, should have longer than Giggs and Scholes because they don't have the mileage on the clock that midfield or wide players have."

It remains to be seen whether Ferdinand is required to face old team-mate Dimitar Berbatov at Old Trafford on Saturday evening when Fulham head north for an FA Cup fourth round tie.

The man who, at £30.75million, succeeded Ferdinand as Ferguson's most expensive purchase, polarised opinion amongst United fans like few others during his four-year stay.

Some point to his hat-trick against Liverpool in September 2010, or the five goals he belted past Blackburn three months later, which helped win the Golden Boot prize along with Carlos Tevez and formed part of an overall tally of 57 goals in 149 appearances, as evidence of genuine class.

Others argue a succession of lacklustre displays - and the fact Ferguson did not even give him a place on the bench for the 2011 Champions League final - is proof of a limited contribution.

In the end, even Ferguson concedes Berbatov was eased out because Javier Hernandez made more of an impact.

But he refuses to accept the 31-year-old was a waste of time.

"I don't think Dimitar was a failure here," said Ferguson.

"Some people like to see players run through brick walls all the time.

"Dimitar is not that type of player, but he is a very talented player and he had a decent goalscoring record here."

Yet Ferguson's defence of Berbatov's contribution is undermined by his acknowledgement the Bulgarian was eased out by the excellence of Hernandez, by comparison a low-budget arrival from Mexico.

It was Hernandez who got a starting spot in the 2011 Champions League final defeat to Barcelona.

"That was very difficult," Ferguson said.

"I felt if we needed a goal in the latter part of the match Michael Owen would be a better option. That was it. Straightforward.

"It was a terrible decision to make though and he didn't take it well, which is what you would expect because everybody wants to play in a cup final."

As appears to be the case ahead of every FA Cup tie United play these days, Ferguson underlined how keen he is to win the tournament for a sixth time given the last of his previous five came in 2004.

Yet other challenges cannot be ignored either, and Ferguson was eager to reject speculation Ashley Young's knee injury was serious enough to condemn him to an extended period on the sidelines, which would rule him out of both Champions League games against Real Madrid.

"I am sure (he will be fit)," said Ferguson.

"He trained a bit in Qatar. Not a lot, but at least he is on the road back."

Meanwhile, Wilfried Zaha is looking forward to life with United after suggesting his £15million move had gone through this evening.

The 20-year-old tweeted: "WOW I am so excited, its been a very exhausting day, but at last delighted to end all speculation. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH for your support."


Click here for completely free £10 bet with Sky Bet & £5 free every week