Rio Ferdinand's Top 5 Seasons for Manchester United

Scott Rom@@R_o_MFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2014

Rio Ferdinand's Top 5 Seasons for Manchester United

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    Captain Rio with FIFA World Club Cup
    Captain Rio with FIFA World Club CupKoji Sasahara/Associated Press

    Rio Ferdinand's career at Manchester United began when he left Elland Road for Old Trafford, becoming the most expensive defender in the world for the second time, aged just 23 years old.

    During his time at United he's won six Premier League titles, one European Cup, two League Cups and the FIFA World Club Cup.

    However, now aged 35, Ferdinand is likely on his way out of United, having enjoyed a testimonial last summer. But when the fans look back on his twelve seasons at the club, which ones stand out?


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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    When Manchester United were crowned champions for a record breaking 20th time in 2012-2013, Rio Ferdinand played more games in the centre of defence than any other player.

    In Sir Alex Ferguson's final game at Old Trafford, Ferdinand scored an 87th-minute winner.

    "Rio Ferdinand has had his best season at the club," Ferguson said, according to the BBC. "Rio has managed his situation very well. Although we have left him out of certain games because we have managed him the right way, at the most important times he has been there."

    Aged 34-years-old, Ferdinand was included in the PFA team of the year.


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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    United's worst season over the past couple of decades (excluding the current one) was 2004-2005 but it was a great season for Rio Ferdinand.

    Having returned from his eight-month ban for missing a drugs test, Ferdinand had a new lease of life and set the example on the pitch. His great performances attracted interest from home and abroad, with Rio "accidentally" bumping in to Chelsea's chief executive at the time, Peter Kenyon.

    Whilst Ferdinand's performances were top notch, his relationship with the fans reached an all-time low, as he stalled on signing a contract extension. Before the following season started, Ferdinand put pen to paper on a new deal, but the damage was already done for some sections of the support.


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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Having started on the road to redemption with an injury-time winner against Liverpool the season before, 2006-2007 started with another goal for Ferdinand against United's hated rivals, with him smashing the ball into the top corner in a 2-0 victory.

    This season was the beginning of the excellent partnership with Nemanja Vidic, which was the foundation of United's next three consecutive titles. Their strengths perfectly complemented each other and they made it difficult for any opposition striker. 


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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    On the back of winning the European Cup the previous season, United's 2008-2009 couldn't escape feeling anti-climatic. They won the title again and reached the Champions League final again but after the dramatics of Moscow, they were well beaten in Rome.

    Still, whilst this season lacked the excitement of the one prior, the success was built around the defence. Edwin Van der Sar set the world league clean sheet record by not conceding a single goal for 1,311 minutes, which is testament to what a great goalie he was but was also a reflection of the top performances of the Ferdinand-Vidic partnership.


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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    The 2007-2008 season was the second most successful season in United's history, with them winning the league title and Champions League double. Sir Alex Ferguson claimed Ferdinand's performances that season played a key role in that success. "Rio's contribution this season has been a major factor in our outstanding defensive performance," he said, according to the BBC.

    Gary Neville, club captain, missed the entire season through injury, meaning that Ryan Giggs was the captain for the season. When he was injured or not selected in the starting XI, Ferdinand wore the armband, essentially filling the role of vice-captain.

    One of those occasions was the Champions League final when United beat Chelsea on penalties. At his book launch last year, Ferdinand claimed this was the highlight of his career, alongside his first league title in 2003. 

    This was the last time that Ferdinand would play in more than 50 games in a season, but his contribution that year was vital.