Rio Ferdinand: Manchester United 2013-14 Player Profile

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Rio Ferdinand: Manchester United 2013-14 Player Profile
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Rio Ferdinand has embraced his role as one of Manchester United's elder statesmen in recent years.

The 34-year-old is about to enter his 12th season playing for the Red Devils. He has shown remarkable loyalty to the club and consistency at the top of his game.

There was, however, brief talk of retirement last season. But rather than prolong the hope of resurrecting his England career, the defender chose to give up international football altogether.

"There comes a time when your body tells you what you’ve got to do, and as much as I was trying to steer away from it, my body was a telling factor," he told reporters (via Daily Mail).

"If I want to carry on playing consistently at the top level something had to give, and international football was it," he said.

Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

 

But United boss David Moyes is currently in the market for a replacement for Rio, if the latest tabloid speculation is to be believed.

According to The Mirror, Benfica centre-back Ezequiel Garay is on his transfer wishlist.

"Moyes wants a new centre-half, despite having a handful of options and he will be given the money to land his target, but sources in Lisbon suggest a second Premier League club is interested in Garay and may pounce once the price is set," the report claims.

Whether Garay comes or not, Rio is right to suggest he still has plenty to give.

This article will profile the United veteran, looking back at his previous campaign, and predicting what could lie ahead.

 

How He Fared Last Season

After a rocky start, Rio Ferdinand bounced back terrifically in the second half of last season.

The Red Devils were very poor in the opening months of the campaign, shipping goals to the likes of Reading, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hostpur.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Against the latter, it was Gareth Bale who gave Rio an absolutely torrid time, blitzing past the static defender with the greatest of ease.

This was undoubtedly the lowest point of his season.

But with his usual partner at the back Nemanja Vidic returning to action at the end of 2012, Rio's improvement was marked.

He looked his comfortable, commanding self again. He was key to the Red Devils charging to Premier League glory with weeks to spare.

By May, former manager Sir Alex Ferguson was hailing the 2012/13 campaign as a landmark one for the 34-year-old.

"Rio Ferdinand has had his best season at the club," he told reporters (via BBC).

"We have had continual problems with the centre-backs being fit. Nemanja Vidic has missed half a season, Chris Smalling has missed most of the season, Phil Jones missed a good bit and Jonny Evans missed parts but Rio has managed his situation very well."

As reward for his fine efforts, he was included in the PFA's Team of the Year alongside fellow Reds David de Gea, Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie.

 

What He Still Has to Offer

The most significant restriction to Rio Ferdinand's game is his lack of mobility.

Regular back problems coupled with a natural consequence of age means he is no longer able to keep up with the quick players in the Premier League.

But for the most part, he has been able to cover this, masking it with an uncanny mix of experience and footballing intelligence.

Stu Forster/Getty Images

His positioning is exemplary—there are few in the game with a better understanding of where to be at the right time.

The five goals conceded by the defensive partnership of Phil Jones and Jonny Evans against West Bromwich Albion on the final day of the season only highlighted how important Rio remains to the team.

He is still world class. To think Paolo Maldini played at the highest level until he was 41 should give Rio plenty of optimism.

He may not replicate the longevity of the Italian legend, but he still has at least two more seasons left in him.

 

His Place in the Squad

Equally important is the voice Rio Ferdinand provides in the dressing room.

The departure of Sir Alex and his coaching team, as well as Paul Scholes' second retirement, means that there are a decreasing number of old United heads around to support the less experienced players.

Rio is a fine role model for the likes of Jones, Evans and Chris Smalling. Say what you want about his twitter habits, he has a genuine love for the club.

Even if Garay were to move to Manchester this summer, Rio has done enough to justify being the side's first choice partner of captain Nemanja Vidic.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

If Garay is signed, Moyes would clearly be planning on transitioning between the two next term.

In 2011/12, Rio played 38 total games for the Red Devils. Last season the count was 32. If I were to hazard a guess, the defender still has close to 30 games in him.

The biggest difficulty for Moyes next term will be keeping his vast collection of defenders happy.

Based on his contributions last season, Rio Ferdinand does not deserve to see his playing time drastically diminish.

 

What do you think next season has in store for Rio?

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