Posted by admin | Posted in Manchester United 1 0 Fulham | Posted on 27-03-2012-05-2008
But 10 years after completing a £30 million deal to sign Ferdinand from Leeds United , United are now ready to reward the defender by opening talks for a one-year contract extension before the turn of the year.
“Rio is adapting really well to the challenge of making sure he is fit and fresh to play in the games we need him,” Ferguson said. “I think it’s all down to how he feels physically within himself and what he is doing at the moment is good.
“he has no issues at all. from time to time, he gets the odd tweak in his back and we have to manage it and look after it. but it hasn’t surprised me in the sense that he’s still young for a centre-back.
“in normal terms, you would expect a centre-back, with his athleticism, to play well into their thirties anyway. but he had the back problem, so we’ve had to manage that and by managing it properly, he has adapted really well to it.
“So if you look to last week – I didn’t want to play him against Bilbao but, with Jones calling off with ’flu, I played him and he also played on the Sunday against Wolverhampton.”
With captain Nemanja Vidic sidelined since December with a cruciate ligament injury, Ferdinand’s readiness to guide youngsters such as Evans, Jones and Smalling through recent months has impressed Ferguson.
And with Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes approaching the end of their careers, the United manager admits that Ferdinand has shown the qualities to take on their mantle.
Ferguson said: “I keep thinking that I signed Rio Ferdinand three or four years ago because I forget he’s been here for 10 years now almost, so he has taken on that role of the influential person in the dressing room.
“He’s great with the players. If you can keep the players long enough for the influence to spread – because in the modern game, as we know, it’s difficult to keep players for more than five or six years – it makes a difference. Younger players can take an example off older players in terms of the example set. They learn from the older players.”
Manchester United could be boosted by the return from injury of Portuguese winger Nani against Fulham, who were defeated 5-0 at Craven Cottage by Ferguson’s team in December.
And Ferguson admits that Michael Owen, out since November with a calf injury, is close to making what could be a decisive return to action.
Ferguson said: “he is certainly making good progress. he came back into our training a couple of weeks ago and then after one of the sessions did some physical work with the sports science team and overdid it.
“it knocked him back a few days, but he’s back in synch again and he should be joining us this week.
“If you think about ever needing a player to score an important goal for you is there anyone better than Michael Owen?”