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Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has urged the club’s players to pay greater attention to detail in their bid to secure another top four finish in the Premier League this season. The Red Devils currently occupy fourth spot with a game in hand on third-placed Everton.
United were denied a hugely important victory by high-flying Leicester City on Boxing Day, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side forced to settle for a 2-2 draw having taken the lead twice during the match.
Ferdinand, who played 455 games for the club, believes that the current crop of players could benefit from working on their communication and on-pitch synergy.
Speaking in a video posted to his YouTube channel Five, the 42-year-old cited a text conversation with former United team-mate Edwin van der Sar which sparked memories of the mutual understanding the pair shared during their time together at Old Trafford.
Ferdinand recalled: “Edwin van der Sar texted me during the [Leicester] game, when the [first] goal went in and McTominay didn’t go out to close him [Harvey Barnes] down and Bailly was behind him.
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“And it took me back to when we used to play, and I would always say to Edwin: ‘When you see me going out to someone one-v-one, or on the edge of the box, I will try and stand in a certain place and wherever I stand, you stand opposite to it, you react off where I stand’.
“So if I was going out to say, Fernando Torres, on the edge of the box, I know he’s right-footed, I’m going to make sure that he can’t hit it back between my legs. So he can down the right-hand side, keep pushing down the right-hand side, and get a shot off, but I’m going to allow you to shoot near post, that’s fine, but not back through my legs, I’m going to block that.
“And I’d say to Edwin: ‘If it goes through my legs hopefully you save it, but if you don’t it’s down to me. I take full responsibility’. And that’s the conversations we were having.
“And that’s what players need to do. You need to create relationships, talk off the pitch before you go on, if this situation happens this is what I’m going to do, react off it this way. So no stone is left unturned. It’s in the detail. You win three points with detail sometimes.
“You go home with one point, or no points, because you didn’t concentrate or find out about the finer details and make sure you both were on the same page. It’s about working in twos, pairs, in threes, quartets sometimes, working together in little units on the pitch and getting a good understanding of each other.”
Ferdinand also slammed United’s big-spending transfer habits ahead of next month’s window, claiming that under-fire boss Solskjaer should instead focus on extracting the best from what he already has at his disposal.
“Sometimes you can’t just keep churning out chequebook after chequebook, buying player after player, sometimes it’s down to the coaching and analysing things and looking at the finer details,” he said.
“I’m not saying the coaching staff aren’t doing that at Man United, because I know they are, but sometimes there are little nuances, little things you might think about or forget or you don’t think about at the time.”
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