Rio Ferdinand says it is too early to hail Erik ten Hag as Manchester United’s saviour but insists a derby day win on Saturday would be another huge step in the right direction. The former United centre half has seen too many false dawns since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement to get carried away with what is essentially another bright start.
But he believes building blocks are being put in place for lasting progress at the club and insisted the upturn will see normally apprehensive United fans travelling to Old Trafford on Saturday with genuine hope.
Asked whether Ten Hag was bringing back the glory days, Ferdinand said: “It’s too early to say, we have been here with previous managers when it looks like we are on to something.
“We have got to be patient and give the man time but I do think all the signs are very positive at the moment.
“He has come in and seen what is happening, he has worked the temperature, assessed how things are, how the land lies, looked at individuals, looked at the shape of the team.
“There was a bunch of players who were quite low and shot to pieces who he has had to build up as not only as footballers but as men.
“But the fact that he is now talking about qualifying for the Champions League so positively he can sense a confidence coming back into this team.”
Ferdinand is right to be cautious when putting Ten Hag’s start in context. Judged against his four permanent predecessors his 35 points from his first 17 league games is behind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who took 38pts, but ahead of Louis van Gaal (32pts), Jose Mourinho (30pts) and David Moyes (28pts).
Yet Ferdinand admitted he will travel to Old Trafford this weekend with genuine hope for the first time in a while.
“I am now going to a game not looking through my fingers, expecting crazy s*** going on. I am going there now with a bit of ‘I fancy us today, I fancy us to beat them and dominate the ball’.”
Ferdinand believes that growing belief is best demonstrated by who would make a combined XI with him nominating half a dozen red shirts in the mix.
“Marcus Rashford would have to be in the team. Christian Eriksen and Bruno (Fernandes) would be in with a shout. And Casemiro is one of the two best holding midfielders in the league, the other being Rodri
“Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane could put a good case forward as well.
“The distance between the two sides is definitely closer but it’s still not where we want it to be. City are still way ahead of where Man United are.
“But the fact you can have an argument over four or five players getting into the team, or to have a conversation about it at least, is a step in the right direction.
“A derby win would be fantastic and a valuable three and it would lead to confidence levels going through the roof.”
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