Rio Ferdinand contemplates his future at Manchester United.
In a recent interview with Inside United, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand revealed that he's uncertain about his future at the club. The former England international turned 34-years-old last week and in recent years, he's had continual injury concerns. This past year, though, despite no longer being a part of the England squad due to what Roy Hodgson deemed as "footballing reasons" -- followed by the England manager then bringing Martin Kelly into the squad -- Ferdinand's form has generally been good and he's only missed only two league matches since January due to injury reasons. In recent weeks, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has lauded his former captain for both his leadership and and quality of performances. Ferdinand's contract is up at up at season's end and despite it appearing likely that United will be willing to offer him one-year deal for the 2013/14 season, the defender appears undecided on that possibility:
"It is always good to hear the manager say things like that. But you have to take every week and month as it comes. The best thing I can do is to look at it at Christmas, and then again in the summer, to see how I'm feeling and go from there. But hearing the manager say things like that definitely puts the spring back in your step. I'll have a better idea of in December or January when the games start coming thick and fast. That is when it really hits you and you know the hard work really has to start. I'll probably get a better gauge of where I'm at fitness-wise and the benefit of having the summer off then."
- Ferdinand | Source: Inside United
It's not unreasonable to guess that Ferdinand will return to United next season. He's a player that is highly regarded in the squad -- particularly by the younger players -- and at the current moment, he's probably the team's best central-defender. Captain Nemanja Vidic has been ravaged by multiple knee injuries in the past year and it's uncertain if he'll ever return to his former world-class form. The likes of Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, and Phil Jones are all very promising young defenders but none are guaranteed to be future stalwarts of United's defense.
Smalling had a fine debut season at the club in 2010/2011 but he's hardly featured in the past year due to a plethora of injuries. He still has much to prove in the near future. Evans was tremendous last season and he was one of the Premier League's better defenders. However, he's been inconsistent at times and his form this season has not matched that of last season -- although minor knocks have likely contributed to fitness and form issues. Jones is highly versatile but it's uncertain if center-back is his best position. He looked a bit vulnerable last season in aerial duels and he was suspect with his positioning at times.
Perhaps, though, Rio is carefully gauging the center-back situation at the club so that when it is time to leave, he's not spending the twilight of his career at Old Trafford on the bench -- whether that be because of younger players being preferred or due to injury. With the uncertainty of Vidic's future, and with the needed development still of the young talents, having Rio return next season seems makes great senses if he's willing. He still has a lot to contribute.