Ferdinand circles the wagons after victory
Moyes gets off to a winning start as champions begin defence of title
Manchester United’s manager David Moyes celebrates his team scoring a goal against Swansea City. Photograph: Reuters/Rebecca Naden
The David Moyes show is up and running but Rio Ferdinand has invoked the siege mentality made famous by Alex Ferguson in a show of defiance at the club’s critics.
Two goals apiece by Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck were answered only by the £12 million record signing Wilfried Bony’s consolation to get the era off to a great start with a 4-1 victory, but an indignant Ferdinand claimed that some people had believed the champions would leave Swansea City with “zero points”.
“If you believe what’s been written in the media and what people have been saying, we would have come away from here with probably zero points,” said Ferdinand. “People’s expectations of us probably weren’t as high as our own. But it’s nice to come here – especially in the gaffer’s first real competitive game – and to win convincingly as we have at a difficult place.”
On Friday Chelsea’s manager, Jose Mourinho, had questioned the champions’ abilities, saying: “You think Manchester United won the Premier League last year because they were an unbelievable team?”
Ferdinand pointedly responded to the comment. “That’s his first soundbite of the season, isn’t it? So we expect it. We’ll just take this first game. We’ve got it out of the way and, to be honest, I think a lot of top teams vying for the championship are going to be struggling for points here.”
Ferdinand admitted that if United had lost to Swansea it would have created a lot of noise. “Yes, I think it would,” he said. “We expected that. I mean, that’s natural at Manchester United – but even more so in the position we’re in now, with a new manager and stuff.
“I think a lot of people expected it – and wanted it, maybe. We’ve seen that from the vibe we’ve been getting all week. But it’s only one game. We’re not saying we’re going to win the league or anything like that.”
The defender admitted that United’s players scrutinise reports.
“We read the papers. We see the things that are said in the media and every next person is tipping someone else to win the league and putting us in third or fourth place. That’s everyone’s opinion,” Ferdinand said, though for him this is nothing new.
“It happens every year. We were never going to be favourites for the league. We aren’t most years. For as long as I’ve been here – which is 11 years – we’ve probably been favourites for the league in terms of the majority in the media maybe three or four times. I don’t go by what the bookies say. I go by what the media say.”
In his 26 years as United’s manager Ferguson had continually drummed into his players the concept that outside the club there was a will to see them fail, and that this knowledge should drive them on.
The display against Michael Laudrup’s Swansea can be viewed as a continuation of this, Ferdinand believes. “You are professional people and you want to win,” he said.
“You don’t appreciate it when people don’t put you in the position you should be. I think being champions you warrant maybe a little bit more, but shouldn’t expect things.”
Next up for United are Mourinho’s team, who visit Old Trafford a week today. Ferdinand admitted he was relishing the game. “I’m looking forward to it. The season’s started now and we are really looking forward to it now,” he said.
“We’ve been on tour and it seems like months we’ve been back training and it’s nice to get more games under way now and we can start playing for something.”
“Overall, it was a great start. We accept some compliments for this result but it is only the first game. Now we have to focus on Chelsea,” defender Patrice Evra said afterwards.
Moyes, who was delighted to have won his opening league game managing United, said he had felt no jitters.
“Strangely enough I wasn’t nervous. But I was apprehensive because I know that Swansea have got the ability to beat teams and I think they’ll beat a lot of teams down here. Manchester United came here last year and drew,” he said.
“So it was something which I knew could be close.”