Ferdinand omits notable Man Utd star after naming seven players who’ve become Ten Hag’s generals

BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand Credit: Alamy
BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand Credit: Alamy

Rio Ferdinand hailed the transformative impact Erik ten Hag has had at Man Utd, though when naming seven stars who’ve become leaders, overlooked one extremely high profile player.

The Red Devils had been something of a circus in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson years. Trophies were still picked up along the way under Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, though even they dried up over the last half-decade.

Indeed, United haven’t lifted a major honour since the 2016-17 campaign in which they scooped the League Cup and Europa League.

The arrival of former Ajax boss Ten Hag was a calculated risk by United’s decision-makers. While he was universally known as a tough and no-nonsense operator, doubts were voiced over his ability to bridge the gap between the Eredivisie and Premier League.

Ten Hag quickly laid any concerns United fans may have had to rest, both on and off the pitch.

He’s been hailed for the way in which he handled the Cristiano Ronaldo debacle and was applauded by Paul Scholes for benching Marcus Rashford against Wolves in late-December after a bout of lateness.

Rashford has unquestionably been United’s star performer this term and many managers would not have dropped their best player as Ten Hag was prepared to do.

Elsewhere, he’s transformed a squad of players who were reviled for an apparent lack of fight and willingness to put the hard yards in. Very few sides come away from a contest against the Red Devils these days without knowing they were in a scrap.

Now, speaking to his FIVE YouTube channel, United legend, Rio Ferdinand, has revealed the changes he’s both felt and seen at Old Trafford this season.

Ten Hag effect wows Ferdinand

“The vibes at Carrington and Old Trafford have changed dramatically,” said Ferdinand.

“When you walk in there, I’ve had very very negative vibes over the years, it’s been quite negative when I’ve walked through the corridors and I walked through there today and, you know when you’ve got a little smile, I was on my own walking back out and I stood there and smiled a little bit.

“I can sense something happening now, I don’t know what it is and what it is going to get to but the ambience is very different, the confidence throughout the place.

“The confidence isn’t about the players alone, it’s the staff. I can sense with the staff that they’re confident, happy to be at work every day, and that’s all been generated by Erik ten Hag and his team.

“It’s not one person that is able to change a whole culture, it’s a group, it’s a collective approach.

“They are on the right path right now and given they’re in the running for four trophies – not that I think they’ll win four – they’ve been fantastic of late.

“It’s nice to go to Carrington and Old Trafford and I feel more optimistic than negative.”

Ferdinand overlooks captain when naming seven Man Utd leaders

The pundit went on to highlight seven current United stars who are either leading from the front or are showing the type of character that became commonplace in the Ferguson era.

However, one notable absentee from Ferdinand’s list was club captain, Harry Maguire.

The mere fact Maguire holds the armband would suggest he should be front and centre when speaking about leadership and character. However, the England international has been cast aside by Ten Hag who now favours a Varane-Martinez partnership.

Even more worrying for Maguire is the fact left-back Luke Shaw has been deployed out of position at left centre-half on occasion. That’s a move Ferdinand previously cited when stressing Maguire must leave United in the summer.

“At United, what we’ve been crying out for over the years is character, leaders,” Ferdinand added.

“Not a leader or a character, you want a number of them. You look through the team now, David de Gea, character, Luke Shaw has come back from the dead with other managers and now he’s a mainstay. The two centre-halves, Martinez and Varane, are leaders.

“Casemiro, I don’t have to say anything about him. Bruno is leading and got the armband [in Maguire’s absences], Rashford’s leading by example with the confidence and the goals.

“The spine of the team has characters and because they’re starting to win and built confidence and form, you’re starting to see the best of it and that’s all backed and pushed by management.”

READ MORE: Rangers ready to pluck Man Utd star whose inevitable exit will force Ten Hag into the market

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