Rio Ferdinand has backed his former club, Manchester United, to finish in the Premier League’s top-four with some ease this season.
The 20-times champions have endured a largely miserable time on the pitch since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement at the end of the 2012-13 campaign, with his successor David Moyes lasting less than 12-months of a six-year contract. Ryan Giggs took caretaker charge for the final stages of last term, by which time the damage had already been done.
United ended the season in seventh position, their lowest since 1989-90, which also ruled them out of any European competition this time round. Louis van Gaal has since been installed with the task of leading the Old Trafford giants back into the top-four, and he has been helped by a large transfer fund which, it appears, he has used wisely thus far.
The Dutch coach broke the club’s transfer record to take Angel di Maria from Real Madrid for £59.6million, and the Argentine has been in sensational form since arriving in England. Radamel Falcao, Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo have also been added to the squad, whilst there have also been a number of high-profile departures.
Ferdinand, who spent 14 years at the club, falls into the exit category. The former England international, who won 81 caps, has watched on with interest as United initially struggled this season, including losing to MK Dons in the League Cup, but following a recent improvement, he is confident his former employers are top-four bound.
“Manchester United are meant to be struggling and having a terrible season yet they are fourth in the league,” the 35-year-old, now of Queens Park Rangers, told the Manchester Evening News. “If they hit a bit of form and consistency then they are going to be up there. I don’t see it being a problem getting into the [UEFA] Champions League spots.
“I think they will comfortably get into the top four and then it is a case of building back from there. Louis van Gaal wants to play in a different way to how the club have played in the past. He has his philosophy and he believes and trusts in that 100%. He is fully committed to that. The players will go along with him and do that. They have bought into it.”
United have now won successive Premier League matches, albeit far from convincingly, against West Ham United and Everton, both at home and both by slender 2-1 scorelines. Ferguson, as usual, has been a spectator at both fixtures, and the legendary former manager has broken his silence to show his support for the new man at the helm of the club.
“Louis van Gaal has made a lot of changes and, thinking about that, actually maybe he’s doing the right thing, to clear the decks and build his own team,” he told MUTV on an in-house programme due to be aired on Monday. “Because he’s got the experience and coaching ability to do that. The way he’s approached it I think has been brilliant.”
United return to Premier League action a week on Monday, 20 October, when they travel to West Bromwich Albion. The real test comes in their two following fixtures, when they welcome Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten Chelsea to Old Trafford, before they travel across town to take on reigning champions and neighbours Manchester City at the Etihad.
Are United nailed on for the top-four this season, or will they miss out again? Let us know your thoughts by joining in with the discussion below.