Excerpts from Queens Park Rangers defender Rio Ferdinand’s new book titled “#2Sides”, serialized in The Sun this week, have been making the rounds in the press.
The former Manchester United captain’s thoughts on his – and his teammates’ – experience of working under David Moyes last season have made headlines on numerous back pages.
Ferdinand gave a first-hand account of his only season under the former Everton manager; while voicing his displeasure with Moyes’ tactics, man-management and training ground practices.
While attempting to sell books and/or provide an honest account of his experience during the post-Alex Ferguson era, Ferdinand highlighted the need for United players to apologize directly to the club’s supporters for their lack of professionalism last season.
Although it can be argued that Moyes was out of his depth and likely should have never been hired by the twenty-time champions of England. What can’t be argued is that the players refused to put their disagreements aside with the manager and failed to do their jobs week-in and week-out.
Prior to the publication of Ferdinand’s comments, fans could point the finger of blame for last season’s dismal performances at club officials (for failing to address the squad’s needs in the transfer window) and David Moyes (for his failure to galvanize and organize the squad after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson). Not to say that some blame wasn’t placed on the players last season. But the overall focus of criticism fell on Moyes and other officials at United.
Last season, supporters were reminded time and time again that the Manchester United team was made up of players with “championship pedigrees” and were a group of “solid professionals”.
But what Ferdinand’s book shows is that most of those players failed to live up to those lofty assessments and acted more like a group of spoiled, immature school children.
United players complained about having “chips” taken off their Friday menu, constantly questioned tactical decisions before/during matches and were disappointed that their five-a-side games in training were replaced by two-touch matches. All the while, United fans were waking up early after working all week to travel to matches, spending their hard earned money for travel, meals and tickets; all to follow the club that they have loved and supported for years, only to witness dismal performance after dismal performance.
United players were touted as “professionals”. But going by Ferdinand’s account, the players weren’t aware that there were going to be changes to the methods they had become accustomed to under Sir Alex Ferguson once David Moyes took over leadership of the club.
Anyone who holds a job of any kind knows that a new boss means new ideas and new rules. But for some reason United players were caught off guard by the differences between Moyes and Ferguson’s leadership.
“I know some people will think we’re being prima donnas but a lot of what we do in a team environment is a question of habit and feeling comfortable. When lots of little things start changing it’s destabilizing. It doesn’t matter if you are a footballer or working behind a machine in a factory,” Ferdinand was quoted as saying in his book.
Everything the defender said is true. But people who work in factories also have to adjust to the changes in their work environment – or they get fired. They also (in most cases) have a family to support. So they are required to assimilate as quickly as possible because their loved ones depend on them.
Ferdinand fails to recognize that he and his teammates had legions of hardcore fans who supported them week-in and week-out at matches. Those supporters were owed a better effort from United players.
Following every disappointing result, fans would hear the players give interviews where they would praise the loyalty of their home and away support. Then the players would close the report by vowing to give a better performance the following week.
But what United fans can take from Ferdinand’s account of last season is that those were empty promises.
The last thing on the players’ minds was the supporters. Apparently, Ferdinand and his teammates were still reeling from the news that chips had been taken off of their Friday menu, or how much different match preparations were under David Moyes as opposed to Alex Ferguson.
Taking nothing away from Rio Ferdinand. He was an outstanding servant to Manchester United and he is universally applauded for his leadership while working under Sir Alex Ferguson.
But at a time when Manchester United needed him most – following the manager’s retirement – he and his teammates let the club and its supporters down.
The former United captain should have saved a chapter in his book for a reflection on his own actions, and also for an apology to the club’s supporters for failing to act professionally over such trivial matters.
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