Skip to main content

Rio Ferdinand: Alex Ferguson not to blame for Manchester United failures

By Amanda Davies and James Masters, CNN
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
  • Rio Ferdinand launches staunch defense of Alex Ferguson
  • Former Manchester United boss is regarded as one of the best managers in world football
  • United have struggled since the Scot left in 2013
  • Louis van Gaal charged with restoring club's fortunes

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- Rio Ferdinand was one of the world's top defenders -- now he's turned his hand to defending the reputation of his former manager Alex Ferguson.

The Scot, one of British football's most successful leaders, has been criticized in recent months following Manchester United's dramatic downturn in form since his departure.

Over two decades, Ferguson won 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League crowns, five FA Cups and four League Cups.

Rio Ferdinand joined Manchester United in 2002 for a fee of £30 million ($48.5 million) which made him the world's most expensive defender at the time. He won six Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League during his 12-year spell at Old Trafford. Rio Ferdinand joined Manchester United in 2002 for a fee of £30 million ($48.5 million) which made him the world's most expensive defender at the time. He won six Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League during his 12-year spell at Old Trafford.
In defense of Ferguson
In defense of Ferguson In defense of Ferguson

But after leading United to league glory in 2013, a title won by 11 points, Ferguson retired and appeared to take his magic touch with him.

Under David Moyes, United capitulated in alarming fashion, finishing seventh and failing to qualify for European competition.

However, some argued Ferguson had left his successor an aging squad, with the likes of Ferdinand, now 35, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra -- two defenders who left Old Trafford in the summer transfer window -- Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick all in their fourth decade.

"I don't understand how people can say that," Ferdinand, who left Old Trafford at the end of last season, told CNN when asked whether Ferguson was responsible for United's failings.

"You've got some great players throughout the squad. You win the league by 11 points. You've got to be a top team to do that.

"So he goes and then it all falls apart. So that's his fault? How can people say that?"

Ferdinand, who won 81 caps for England, arrived from Leeds United in July 2002 for £30m, a world record for a defender at that time, went on to win six Premier League titles, the Champions League and two League Cups.

Now at Queens Park Rangers, Ferdinand was part of the United team which struggled badly last season under Moyes, the man who was handpicked by Ferguson to succeed him.

Moyes was relieved of his duties after just 10 months in charge and was replaced at the start of the 2014 season by Dutch coach Louis van Gaal.

Van Gaal has already made his mark by bringing in a number of high-profile players including Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid for a British transfer record fee of $98.7 million, Colombia striker Radamel Falcao on loan from Monaco and Dutch star Daley Blind.

Results have been mixed so far with United losing to the likes of Swansea and Leicester City, as well as being humiliated by third-tier side Milton Keynes Dons in the League Cup.

Two consecutive home wins over Queens Park Rangers and West Ham have lifted United to seventh in the Premier League table ahead of Sunday's clash with Everton at Old Trafford.

With Van Gaal struggling for defensive options and Ander Herrera, the midfielder, absent with a rib injury, United will once again by forced to field a changed line-up.

Ferdinand, who won six league titles with United, says the new manager needs time to ensure his new signings gel and come together.

"It's just about the new managers coming in and making that work together still," he added.

"Do they want wholesale changes? This manager seems like he wants to do that now. He's changing, making big changes. He's bought a lot of players in.

"So I don't think the buck stops with Alex Ferguson at all. I think you leave and you win a trophy.

"There's not many better ways to go out than that."

Read: Everything you need to know about Falcao

Read: 'Come Home Ronaldo' beg Man Utd fans

Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:23 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
updated 5:14 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
updated 8:53 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
updated 9:48 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
updated 12:22 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
updated 8:47 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
updated 6:34 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.