After high profile errors this season against Holland, Ukraine and Man City and easily being held off for Fernando Torres’ opener at Anfield two weeks ago, it was more than obvious that there was a problem with Manchester United‘s Rio Ferdinand.
It lead to Ferdinand being written off by various figures in the media as well as some United fans who felt he was past his best, but it has now been revealed that the classy defender had been playing with a back injury putting his poor performances into perspective.
Originally Ferdinand had complained of a thigh injury and if you compile that with a back injury it becomes evident as to why Ferdinand, who’s abilities of recovery are amongst the best in the world, was made to look ordinary be Craig Bellamy, who is not slow by any means and Fernando Torres who is arguably the best striker in the world at the moment.
His dip in form is especially shocking considering the high level of performances we are used to seeing from him. In the 2007-2008 season alongside Nemanja Vidic, Ferdinand came up against some of the world’s best attackers and dealt with them all. Messi, Adebayor, Torres, Eto’o amongst others were all contained in what was one of the best defensive displays that will ever be seen over the course of a season.
The back injury will keep Ferdinand out for 6 weeks, and to lose a defender of Ferdinand’s magnitude would be a massive blow especially as United face Chelsea this Sunday but on his current form has the decision to deal with the injury come at the right time?
It would allow United’s Northern Ireland starlet Jonny Evans to continue his development at the highest level as Evans had dealt with the pressure of being drafted in to replace Ferdinand and Vidic at various points last season and has never looked out of his depth. He came up against Chelsea twice in the league and on both occasions did well with his crowning moment being when he tamed Drogba in a 3-0 victory at Old Trafford in January.
The hiatus would also allow Rio to step out of the firing line and return fully fit to play at the highest level as AC Milan’s Alessandro Nesta did. Ferdinand can take heart from the fact that the Italian also suffered with back problems but has now returned for Milan to perform at the level that football fans were accustomed to seeing from him.
Ferdinand turns 31 on Saturday and is still in what most would consider to be a defender’s prime years so such a drastic dip in form is not acceptable. If Jonny Evans capitalises on this opportunity and these 6 weeks does not cure Ferdinand’s problems, his place at the heart of United’s defence could be at risk.