It is normal that when a new manager comes in to a successful team he is going to put some noses out of joint. The players are used to a certain regime and the new coach can find it hard to implement his own ideas.
But the most important point is that any changes made are for the good of the club. David Moyes is clearly aware that the average age of his defence is pretty high. Ferdinand (35), Vidic (32) and Evra (32) can’t go on for too much longer. But, at different stages of the season, the Manchester United manager seems to have alienated the three of them.
Evra could well be off in the summer as Manchester United have publicly courted left-backs since Moyes arrived. Nemanja Vidic has announced that he will leave the club at the end of the season. And we wouldn’t be at all surprised if Rio Ferdinand follows suit.
Rio Ferdinand has been regularly overlooked for a place in the starting line up this season and, against Arsenal, Chris Smalling again started in the centre of defence as Moyes looks to the future.
But Rio’s appearance in the second half transformed the back line. From a chaotic first 45 to a calm second period Rio’s class added much needed quality to the whole side, giving ample evidence that the veterans have much still to offer. You might argue that, at 35, Rio no longer has the mobility for the top level. But, for our money, he was head and shoulders above Smalling at The Emirates.
Ferdinand is still sprightly enough and his ball playing skills out of defence give Manchester United a far better platform for attacks and general ball retention. Where the inexperienced and leggy Smalling will regularly hump the ball up the park when under pressure, Rio is more likely to find a man in space with a short pass.
It’s obvious that Manchester United will need to replace 3/4 of their remarkable old guard at some stage. But last night proved once again that evolution is far better than revolution. Chris Smalling may well be the future of Manchester United but Rio can still be the present. Smalling should be eased into the team against the lesser sides while Rio should retain his place against the big boys.
Manchester United boss Moyes perhaps needs to show the old guard a bit more respect.
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