Why letting Rio Ferdinand leave was a good decision by Manchester United
The news filtered through on Monday night that Rio Ferdinand had made the decision to move on to pastures new in the summer. The defender had been at the club for over a decade after signing from Leeds and gone on to become an integral member of the United squad in that period.
However, his chances at the club were limited this season ever since David Moyes took charge of the club in the summer. The former England international has struggled for game time and while many were sad to see one their finest defenders leave, the majority agreed it was time for Ferdinand to seek employment elsewhere.
Many questioned whether Manchester United opted against offering Ferdinand a deal or if it was actually the centre-back who came to the decision himself. Whichever one is the truth, the decision that has been made could be a good one for the Red Devils.
Ferdinand started 12 games in the Premier League this season, coming on as a substitute in another two. When Ferdinand played in those fourteen games, the Red Devils only won four of them, conceding 16 goals while the defender was on the field in the process. Out of Manchester United’s defenders only Rafael and Alexander Buttner had a lower Squawka Performance Score in the Premier League than Ferdinand (255), which pointed to the dip in his performances.
Comparing this to last season, Ferdinand was much more of a force. He won more duels on average (62%) and also boasted a higher pass accuracy of 90%. He managed to score once in the Premier League last season, something he has not achieved in this campaign, and also created five chances – yet this year he has none.
While the poor performances of the team as a collective may have overshadowed his individual errors, it was in Europe where Ferdinand struggled most. He won an average of just 46% of his duels, the lowest of any Manchester United defender, bar the marginalised Buttner. He won a measly three out of his nine attempted tackles and six out of 10 attempted headers.
He seemed to be tired and for a man who was one of the best defenders in the world in his prime, surprisingly appeared to have little motivation. Manchester United constantly changed their back-line throughout the season as Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic both struggled for fitness.
They did rely on the former England international at times to come in and shore up the defence, but Ferdinand seemed beleaguered of confidence and it appeared he was already planning for what might come in the future. He had an impressive pass accuracy in the Premier League (89%), but the majority of those were simple passes on the floor, with the defender attempting just 80 long balls compared to the 140 he tried last season.
United seemed to struggle when Ferdinand was in the side. A lack of pace, which Ferdinand never really possessed in abundance anyway, was getting the better of him and his tendency to switch off at key moments cost United, particularly during their nightmare trip to Greece when they faced Olympiakos.
While it is a sad day for Manchester United as they lose Ferdinand, along with their captain Vidic in the summer, it is time for a change at the Theatre of Dreams. The club seemed to be hindered by a number of players who were well past their sell-by date this season and unfortunately, Ferdinand seemed to be one of them.