Glazers exit is no instant cure for Man Utd and the best players don’t want to play for them, says club legend Ferdinand
IN Rio Ferdinand’s eyes, there are plenty of short-term issues to solve at Manchester United before telling the Glazers to sell up.
Gary Neville demanded the American businessmen end their 17-year stint as majority owners after United’s 2-1 opening-day Premier League defeat to Brighton at Old Trafford.
Fans again protested at the Glazers’ ownership before kick-off — but another ex-United defender in Ferdinand says the cracks in the club appear at almost every level.
Speaking to SunSport, Ferdinand let rip at the club’s botched and confused transfer strategy, the widening gap between United and their biggest top-flight rivals and the lack of support given to new boss Erik ten Hag.
But worse than all that, the six-time Prem winner says he now feels like an Arsenal fan when taunted by taxi drivers in London — because he has no comeback.
Asked about Neville’s comments on the Glazers, Ferdinand, 43, explained: “I do understand the concerns and the people’s reasons for why they want them to go. I get it.
“But at the same time, do people think the problems will be immediately solved and the team will be a competing team when that happens? It is a difficult one.
“I was there playing when the ‘Glazer Out’ stuff was going on with the gold and green scarves.
“I see the frustration from the fans and the fact the club is in so much debt. Things aren’t the way the fans think they should but there needs to be a buyer on the table.
“Once there is a buyer, then you can have this conversation. Until then, you are talking to a brick wall.
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“They don’t need to respond and they are not going to respond.”
Instead, Ferdinand has been left exasperated by United’s negotiation tactics in the transfer market this summer — topped off by an attempt to sign 33-year-old forward Marko Arnautovic before an embarrassing back-track.
Former England centre-half Ferdinand said: “I understand, to a certain extent, why they were going for someone like Arnautovic… but then you have just brought Christian Eriksen as well?
“Another arrival at the back-end of their career going against the new process of young and hungry players to get the club to a new level.
“It is unfair to single out Arnautovic but what signal does that send out when you are going for someone at that stage of their career, given his career path, too?
“He is not coming from AC Milan or Inter or Juventus, he is coming from Bologna after being in China. Forget his ability, that route… it is a deal that makes the grey areas even greyer.”
It is a move that smacks of desperation, one born from a feeling that United cannot compete at the top table when it comes to the game’s biggest talents — and, so far, the club’s failure to adapt their strategy is evident.
Ex-West Ham and Leeds ace Ferdinand agreed, adding: “Most people have accepted Manchester United are not the powerhouses they once were in the transfer market.
“They aren’t going to a player and saying, ‘This is the badge. We have Champions League football’. The market of player that they are in for is very different.
“I don’t think United are going to the table if Kylian Mbappe becomes available. I don’t think they would have any belief that he would come.
“But is this current group going to be enough to move the dials? I don’t think it is.
“The story that needs to be sold to new players is that you can come and try to bring back the glory days.
“It is an unbelievable incentive — but the project has got to be right.”
Ferdinand refused to give a concrete answer on the hypothetical question of whether he, as a hot prospect in this current market, would join United as opposed to Manchester City or Liverpool.
But he said: “The top players want to go and win. It is a short career.
“I left Leeds when I did to join a club that was set up and geared to win.
“I wouldn’t have left Leeds to go to a team that was mid-table or sixth or seventh. The top players want to be around winners. They want that culture.
“Man United are trying to get to that level again but the project needs to reflect that. I couldn’t go on my own and change it.”
The summer signings of Eriksen, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia have done little to arouse much hope among the fans.
And Ferdinand says the players will feel the deflation, too, especially after what looked to be such a positive window last summer when they brought in stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane.
He said: “There was nothing better as a player than reading the paper and seeing that the very best in the Premier League wanted to come to Man United.
“I remember Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov were the best at Spurs — we got them. Robin van Persie at Arsenal.
“It is a beautiful feeling. That’s not happening now.”
On and off the pitch, United are losing ground year on year.
And Ferdinand went as far as to suggest: “It is the furthest I have felt United have been away from City since Fergie left.
“The killer for me now is that I feel how Arsenal fans have felt for the past 15 years.
“They have been the butt of people’s jokes and have been ridiculed, because they were successful.
“I go out now and I haven’t got a comeback when I get told by cab drivers in London, builders hanging off scaffolding, ‘Wahey, what happened to your team at the weekend?’
“No one could say that to me for years. Now I’m getting ridiculed in front of my kids because of the team I follow.”
Rio Ferdinand will feature in an upcoming episode of The Premier League Storybook with Jake Humphrey, a new podcast series which launches on September 3 as part of a brand new line-up of free podcasts… BT Sport Pods.
Humphrey’s 15-part series looks back over 30 years of Premier League history charting its drama, rivalries, skill and players. Visit btsport.com/pods
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