Out of favor under former manager David Moyes and out of contract at the end of the season, it has long seemed Rio Ferdinand would not be wearing the red of Manchester United come next fall.
But after his surprise inclusion and clean sheet against Norwich, the 35-year-old made clear his desire to remain with the Red Devils, regardless of who is made permanent manager going forward.
“I’m going to continue playing,” Ferdinand explained following his side’s 4-0 thumping of the Canaries. “Whether it’s here, I don’t know. But I hope so.”
The former West Ham United and Leeds United player joined United in 2003 for around $50 million and had been a mainstay at center-back for 11 seasons until the installation of Moyes resulted in his ostracism from the lineup and, arguably, the team.
Speaking about his his lack of opportunities under Moyes, Ferdinand said, “That’s part and parcel of the game and you have to accept decisions that are made.
“Some managers play you, some don’t. Managers have their personal preferences, but just as a whole and looking from a team perspective, we are not where we want to be and that’s disappointing.”
His banishment from United’s lineup ended on Saturday when interim player-manager Ryan Giggs reinstalled Ferdinand at center-back alongside longtime partner Nemaja Vidic. The result? A shutout and limitation of Norwich City’s three strikers – Ricky van Wolfsfinkle, Nathan Redmond and Johan Elmander – to just one shot on goal.
Of course, it was just Norwich City (apologies Canaries fans). Whether that kind of performance can be replicated against a top Premier League side is another story. What’s clear is that as Ferdinand continues to age he’ll need to be strategically rested throughout a season. But there’s little doubt there’s something left in the tank and with his fantastic anticipation, great positional sense and top composure, it’s not unforeseeable that Ferdinand could play a role with United going forward.
Whether the United board – so eager to impose an overhaul on the squad this summer – feels the same way remains to be seen.