Ferdinand points to intense club rivalries

August 29, 2008
By Soccernet staff

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has spoken about the Premier League winners' rivalry with Chelsea and the club's Champions League final success in an exclusive interview with ESPNsoccernet Press Pass.

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The England skipper explained how the two clubs have become clear rivals in recent years as they battle at the top of the table, while still feeling the intensity of clashes against Arsenal and Liverpool.

'Successful teams breed big rivalries,' Ferdinand told Press Pass. 'You see it in any sport: Ferrari and McLaren, Nadal and Federer. When there are only two teams or two people then you see an added rivalry.

'Two years before we won the league, Chelsea won it twice and then we've won it the last two years - so we are the two stand-out teams.

'But I wouldn't take anything away from the Arsenal games. We've had a rivalry with them for the last ten years because they've been very successful in that period as well. And the Liverpool games are one of the first fixtures that I look for because going to Anfield is a great occasion - the rivalry is phenomenal.'

Ferdinand comes up against a trio of top class strikers in those matches with Emmanuel Adebayor, Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres among the best in the Premier League. For Ferdinand though, one stood out. 'Adebayor,' he remarked. 'He played up at Old Trafford a couple of years ago and they beat us 1-0, he scored, and he has probably given me my hardest game.'

Just three months ago, the 29-year-old tasted ultimate glory in the Champions League final and it's something he's eager to repeat before he hangs up his boots.

Ferdinand told ESPNsoccernet Press Pass: 'I want that same feeling as many times as I can get it. I've probably got five or six years left in the game so I'd love to be able to finish my career saying I've experienced those feelings again, at least once, because that evening was fantastic.

'But as a team of individuals and a collective unit we don't really dwell on the past. At the party after the game we were there with our families talking about the game but also about the coming season. We wanted to make sure we worked hard and had this feeling again next season.'

The centre-back insists a final is the same as any other match, the only concern being the result. He added: 'You're in a bubble really. I've worked out through experience over the years that taking in the atmosphere you don't get the best out of yourself in a game like that.

'It's such a big occasion that you have to make sure you put all of the outside stuff that's going on with the fans and the adulation and thinking 'we're in the Champions League final against Chelsea' out of your mind.

'I just try and treat it like it's another Premier League game against any team and that's the best way to deal with it, that's when you lose sight of what you're trying to achieve.'

Ronaldo got one of his 42 goals of the season in that match, and Ferdinand admits it's a feat the Portuguese winger will struggle to repeat.

'It will be hard because he had a ridiculously good season,' he continued. 'It was the stuff of legend almost. For a wide player to get 20 goals you'd say he's had a fantastic season but to get double that, and then some, is just phenomenal. In my eyes he's the best player in the world over the last year or two.'

Ferdinand, though, was cagey on the club's pursuit of Dimitar Berbatov. 'The players just stand by what the manager does,' he said. 'If the manager brings someone in we're all for it. If he doesn't then we know we've got a very good squad to go on with this season.

'The manager has never led us down the wrong path before, we trust his judgement. If he sees it right to bring people in, like he did last season, then fantastic. If he doesn't then we've got a great squad.'