United win doesn’t hide Manchester City’s superiority

Rio Ferdinand says fans need to adapt to Van Gaal’s approach after win over Liverpool

Manchester United’s French striker Anthony Martial celebrates scoring their third goal at Old Trafford. Photograph: Getty Images

Manchester United’s French striker Anthony Martial celebrates scoring their third goal at Old Trafford. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand is worried Manchester City are much closer to winning silverware this season than Louis van Gaal’s side.

City have won their opening four Barclays Premier League fixtures as they go in search of their third title in five years, and Manuel Pellegrini will also be hoping to progress deeper into the Champions League this term.

United are without a trophy since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, and are already five points adrift of their neighbours.

Ferdinand believes that pattern is likely to continue over the remainder of the campaign as Pellegrini has now figured out his best system.

“City’s problem has been their system — not the players,” he said.

“They have got Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure — they are all great players, but the system failed them.

“They have got players who are getting older and need to get closer to winning the Champions League to have a hope of winning it.

“We will see — City are our best hope this year and that hurts me. On current form you can’t look any further than them. They look like they are going to sweep the league.

Chelsea will be their biggest rivals and they can’t get out of the blip they are in, but I just think City will win the league by a minimum of six or seven points.

“I think Pellegrini got it wrong last year. I think he has held his hands up. He’s got the way that everyone was telling him to go for the last 18 months.

“Don’t play 4-4-2 in the big games — you get outnumbered in midfield. You’ve not got the personnel to cope with it. So he’s changed that system and it seems to have really helped him.”

While City have started the season in fine fettle, United have amassed seven points from their first four games and scored just three goals.

Skipper Wayne Rooney has yet to break his duck and Van Gaal was told by Rooney and Michael Carrick that the dressing room was feeling ‘flat’.

Second Captains

The Dutchman is now in his second season at Old Trafford but, despite leading United back into the Champions League, he has been criticised for his tactical approach.

New United

Ferdinand says supporters need to accept the change in approach from the days of Ferguson and Matt Busby, and believes they would still be perfectly happy if trophies were won with Van Gaal’s more possession-based football.

“The philosophy is completely different,” the former England defender said.

“Manchester United supporters now have to go away and re-educate themselves on how to watch Manchester United. Don’t go there expecting to see free-flowing, attacking, gung-ho football.

“It’s methodical, side to side, wait for an opportunity to come. It’s a different type of football, very methodical, clear-cut pattern of the way he wants the team to play and it’s totally different.

“I’m not saying that is the wrong way — it is the way he chooses to play and it is not the way Manchester United are used to playing.

“If it brings success, Manchester United fans will be delighted, I will be delighted. It is just a different way of playing football.

“People who are old enough to remember those times (Busby, etc), they want fairytale and they’re going to reminisce about old times and want to see what they’re used to. The younger generation, they’re not so attached to that and they can move on, but they’re going to want to move on to a style that they like.”

Ferdinand also revealed he and former defensive partner Nemanja Vidic had discussed the recent transfer business at United — with Van Gaal having spent over a quarter of a billion pounds on new recruits — and also questioned why a new centre-back was not signed over the summer.

“I just think, with Daley Blind playing centre-half every week, you think you’ve spent all that money, where is the centre-half?,” he added.

“Because you didn’t buy Blind as a centre-half. I was talking to Nemanja Vidic the other day on the phone and we were both saying the change is unreal in terms of the personnel and the transfer policy.

“We were saying, ‘If they’d spent £50million when we were there, we’d have won how much more?’. If you’d got somebody at that time who was worth that. But the landscape changes. We were just reminiscing about old times and imagining if we’d had that amount of money to be spent on our squad.

“It is totally different and it doesn’t look like anything that I knew when I was there. It’s just all changed. Even the sponsor that’s been there how many years, Nike, and now it’s Adidas. Everything’s changing, other than the groundsman and the chef.”

Reaction

Meanwhile following Saturday’s win over Liverpool van Gaal hailed Anthony Martial as the best young forward in the world after he marked his debut with a well-taken goal.

Twenty-one minutes after his introduction from the bench Martial beat Martin Skrtel on a mazy run before rolling the ball past Simon Mignolet to seal a 3-1 win for United against their bitter rivals.

Van Gaal had been criticised for agreeing a fee of up to €80million for the 19-year-old, but with one match of his United career gone, he has already written his name into Old Trafford folklore.

“When you make a goal like Anthony did you cannot wish for more,” the United manager said about Martial’s debut.

“He has pace to dribble but his finishing was fantastic.

“A lot of players have made a debut and scored with me so it’s a good signal. We have scouted him and we wanted him because he’s the best in his age,” Van Gaal said.

“It was a difficult period in the transfer period with a lot of problems with players who are going and coming. I think we have managed that very well. We have 10 points from five matches.

“That is a good record, there is only one club better and our aim is to be the best but now we are five points behind Manchester City. We still look to that position but I am happy.”

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