Rio Ferdinand – Fergie’s signing of the Noughties

Today marks the 8th anniversary of the signing of a certain center back, who having learned his trade in South London and plied it in the East before moving to our bitterest of rivals from Yorkshire, became the rock on which all our success in the Noughties was built.

I remember the day Rio signed clearly. I was very ill. I had cancer and was receiving bouts of chemo and it all was a bit harrowing. But as ever as it was before, and still is now, United was my one constant. I’d watched the World Cup from my sick-bed, getting up early to watch games..and as all fans do..I was plotting who I wanted the manager to sign next.

It was clear to any United die hard that our problems laid in defense. We could attack until  the cows came home, but the individual defensive errors that had blighted the previous year were shocking and destabilizing. We needed a center back and we needed one quick. Ferdinand’s performance and leadership out in Japan convinced me, and evidently Sir Alex, that Rio was the man. What I liked most about him was he was a genuine ball playing defender. Not a midfielder playing defensively, but an English center back who actually could pass a ball. Anyhow, thirty odd million pound coins later and he was ours.

In a decade which has seen the mercurial predator that was Ruud Van Nistelrooy, the legends of Scholes and Giggs, and the boy wonders of both Rooney and Ronaldo, it is a subjective debate as to who was our player of the last decade. But for me it is an easy choice.

Rio Ferdinand is the player that all our success has been built. As a paid up member of that Old Trafford crowd I have micro analysed his (and all the others!) every move in every game..the stuff that the TV camera doesn’t always pick up. Rio’s positional sense and tactical nous are the best I have ever seen in the 25 years I have been a United supporter. Yes..Jaap Stam was a monster in that position, Vidic has also excelled. Bruce and Pallister were the glue of the team in the 90s and Paul McGrath was…just immense. But Rio’s capture and his subsequent development as a footballer within our ranks, marks his Stirling effort and contribution as the greatest of any player in the Noughties for me. The detractors of Rio who say he dwells on the ball too much, or makes too many errors, are obviously living in a world of West Ham past, when he was a kid. He has been nothing but consistently excellent for our blessed team. He came to the club and he raised the bar.

So next time Rio gets on that red shirt…just try and watch what he does. And I don’t mean the big tackles or the chasing back or the dramatic headers. Every United attack starts from him. A clever pass. A bit of vision that most English center backs wouldn’t know if it slapped them round the face. He is the power station that our team channels all its nuclear energy from. He is the driver and the conductor. The day he finally goes will be one of those Eric Cantona moments. One of those Roy Keane moments…when you realise just how special a player you have been watching all these years.

So The Faithful salutes you Rio Ferdinand. 8 years old today. Lets hope there’s plenty of running in those legs yet because your football club needs you.

Glory glory Man United

by Rob B

@badgerwolf on twitter

@ViewFromTier3 on twitter

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About Steve Ferguson 886 Articles
Steve Ferguson had taken over & re-branded The Faithful MUFC website back in the summer of 2014 and is now the owner and editor of the site. Steve, from Ashton-Under-Lyne in Greater Manchester, is a 35-year-old life long Manchester United fan, travelling over the globe to see the Reds play. Steve has been lucky enough to be at both the 1999 and 2008 Champions League finals, seeing Manchester United lift the biggest trophy in the World, none more exciting than that faithful night in Barcelona in 99. The website is a blog, but also hopes to deliver the latest Manchester United news from around the internet too, linked up with our growing twitter account which is @TheFaithfulMUFC, give it a follow as we will follow you back as soon as we can.


  1. Brilliant read Rob B.
    Cheers mate . And you are so spot on it will be a sad day when Rio’s back finally calls the day.
    I would not class it as Cantona moment, bearing in mind I am a young United supporter and have not seen him play live.I do know that the King is always cherished even today.
    some lads even see him as the successor to Sir ALex!.

    As you say in your post he is class at bringing the ball out of the defence with composure and looking for that key pass.
    I think now we got Nemanja secured and the rising Jonny its not as bad as feared previously, if we had neither Rio or Vidic.Our defence is going to be stronger this term.If you consider Rafael developing Fabio(who was meant to be the better player) getting game time and injury free.
    it cant be any worse than last season can it!
    I hope your Cancer is in remission.
    As you say mate Glory Glory Man United.

  2. Cheers redscot. I’m totally happy with the defence going into this season…and thanks I’m 8 yrs clear of the dreaded C word…fit as a fiddle at present

  3. Good one Rob! I have been a recent follower and still getting to terms to the details of the game. That made a few things clear to me.
    Delighted to know that you have got rid of the dreaded word from you…Cheers and good health to you!!

  4. Well scripted article Rob. Definitely one of the most talented CB’s England has seen since Moore and has probably been underrated or more accurately under-appreciated by many United fans over the years. Can’t understand the whiners today criticising that he is only contributing an undisclosed slice of gate money to charity – wtf. One personal aside, I find it intriguing that so many ‘favourite’ Reds have made the journey from Elland Road whilst only Giles and Sharpe have made the reverse journey as far as I can remember. Maybe Sidebottom, not sure about that one but probably only Giles is revered by LU supporters.

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