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Rio Ferdinand reveals in-game text message from Edwin van der Sar criticising Manchester United players

Rio Ferdinand looks on prior to the Premier League match between West Ham United and Everton FC at London Stadium on January 18, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Image source: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images


Rio Ferdinand has told Manchester United players they need to pay more attention to the “finer details” in their quest for Premier League glory. United drew 2-2 with Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day.

Ferdinand was critical of Scott McTominay and Eric Bailly in the build-up to Barnes’ equaliser and revealed he had discussed the matter with former goalkeeper team-mate Edwin van der Sar.

“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,” said Ferdinand.

“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.

And it’s crazy you asked that question because Edwin van der Sar texted me during the game, when the goal went in and McTominay didn’t go out to close him (Barnes) down and Bailly was behind him. And it took me back to really 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 go 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 added: “All these players nowadays, you can tell by the way they play, I’ve been to the training ground, seen it, they’re all well drilled as teams, all got a game plan, all work towards what the manager wants. That’s fine, that’s great, but sometimes you need a bit more than that.

“There is a fine detail in the games that are going to get you over the line and you just need to be really diligent in doing that as a team. Sometimes it’s not down to the manager, and not down to the coaches, it’s down to you as a player to start asking questions and start pulling people to one side and saying: ‘We’re going to do this because it’s going to make it easier for you, and I’m going to stand here and you react off me’ etc. Take ownership, take leadership of situations, simple as that.”


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