Rio Ferdinand open to Man United return as technical director to work alongside Ed Woodward

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Former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand has refused to rule out the prospect of returning to the club in a technical role.

Reports over recent weeks have suggested the 40-year-old is on a list of former Old Trafford stars being lined up to come in as part of a shake-up of the club’s hierarchy.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer faces a major restructuring job this summer after the club finished sixth in the Premier League last season.

The introduction of a technical director to work alongside executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has been mooted for some time, but an appointment has yet to be made.

Ferdinand, who joined United in 2002 to become what was then the most expensive defender in world football, won six Premier League titles and the Champions League during his 12 years at the club.

And he revealed a return in a senior off-field role could be of interest.

“It all depends on the shape of the job,” he said when asked if he fancied returning to the club.

“I don’t think it’s all been outlined at Man United in terms of – that’s the job and this is the description. I think there’s a lot to talk about within that.

“To be fair to Man United in that kind of role, the responsibility that comes with that, you can’t lie and say that that’s not a turn-on.

Rio Ferdinand (L) , Sir Alex Ferguson (R)

Rio Ferdinand (L) , Sir Alex Ferguson (R)

“Because you are helping to shape the fortunes of a club of that stature. That’s a huge job.

“All the boxes would have to be ticked that you’re got in in your head before considering something like that.

“I think decisions made at a football club – not all, (but) some of them should come with a football thought process in the background somewhere, (someone) that understands that side of it and can make that kind of decision.”

Ferdinand, like many other former United players, believes the club is struggling for a philosophy in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era and that signing star players is now more difficult than when the club were routinely winning silverware.

“Man United are looking for their ideology still, he said.

“They went away from it after Sir Alex Ferguson, they tried to take it on under different managers and it didn’t work, so they are still searching.

“They need to lock down a philosophy, an ideology, but it’s not just the first team – it needs to be across the club, with younger players and the foundations, all the way through.

“There needs to be some sort of story at a football club for the stars and the staff to believe in.

“Liverpool have got that, Jurgen Klopp has created that. Man City have got that – Pep (Guardiola) has created that. But they have been allowed to create it. They have had time.

“Do I think Man United can do that? I think time will tell – Ole has a window to work in and then he has to put that jigsaw in place.

“It is a big gap between Man City, Liverpool and Spurs. They will build again, they will recruit again.

“Man United always used to compete from the front – from a financial position and from a trophy position, winning. So if you approach a player you didn’t have to talk about money – we were winning the league every year.

“I could have gone for bigger money, easy. I could have left for bigger money, but I was addicted to wining, so why leave?

“There are people around Man United who can pay the same or more and now they haven’t got the added pull of winning trophies and being in the mix to win the big trophies.

“And you have Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona, all massive clubs in transition, so Man United are not top of the queue when it comes to the big players.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Man United star Paul Pogba reveals how becoming Muslim has changed him

David Cooper 11/06/2019
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Paul Pogba has opened up about his conversion to Islam in recent years.

The Manchester United midfielder recently made a pilgrimage to Mecca during the holy month of Ramadan and claims becoming a Muslim has made him ‘more peaceful inside’.

Asked what being a Muslim meant to him in The Times’ new Life Times podcast, Pogba said: “It’s everything. That’s what makes me thankful for everything.

“It made me change, realise things in life. I guess, maybe, it makes me more peaceful inside.

“It was a good change in my life because I wasn’t born a Muslim, even if my mum was. I just grew up like that, respect for everyone.

“Islam is not the image that everyone sees – terrorism… What we hear in the media is really something else, it’s something beautiful.

“You get to know it. Anybody can find that he feels connected with Islam.”

The World Cup winner with France also admitted that turning to Islam has helped him be more focused.

Pogba continued: “It came because I have a lot of friends who are Muslim. We always talk.

“I was questioning myself in a lot of things, then I started doing my own research. I prayed once with my friends and I felt something different. I felt really good.

“Since that day I just carried on. You have to pray five times a day, that’s one of the pillars of Islam. It’s something that you do.

“The meaning why you do it – you ask forgiveness and be thankful for everything you have, like my health and everything.

“It’s really a religion that opened my mind and that makes me, maybe, a better person. You think more about the afterlife.

“This life has a test. Like when I’m with you, here. Even if you’re not a Muslim, you are a normal human. You have a human relationship and respect you for who you are, what religion you are, what colour and everything.

“Islam is just this – respect of the humanity and everything.”

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Man United need hungry players with potential, not marquee signings, says Wayne Rooney

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Wayne Rooney thinks Manchester United need to recruit a raft of hungry players with potential and resist splashing money on expensive marquee signings.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a major rebuilding job on his hands at Old Trafford following a dismal 2018/19 campaign.

The 13-time Premier League champions, who recruited Solskjaer after sacking Jose Mourinho in December, finished sixth and failed to qualify for the Champions League.

“For Ole, I think the first thing he’s got to do is try and build the squad,” Rooney told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme.

“I don’t think bringing one or two players in for over £100million is going to really help with the squad and the players who are there.

“I think he needs to try and look at maybe five or six players who have got potential to be top players but you’re not spending £120, £130million on these players.

“I think you spend £30million, £40million and then try to improve them, which will also give you longevity out of the players and allow you to build a squad around the five or six new players that come in, plus a few of the players who are still there.

“You could bring (Cristiano) Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and (Lionel) Messi in, or Gareth Bale for instance, and it’s going to cost you £300, £350million (for) which you’d get what? Maybe two years out of Ronaldo, a couple of years out of Ramos and then you’ve written that money off.”

United have not won the title since the final season of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign in 2013.

Rooney, who scored a record 253 goals for United and now plays in the MLS for DC United, believes the club’s fans will remain patient during a transitional phase under Solskjaer.

“I just think the club needs to rebuild with younger players. But they need to be good enough and allow the manager to improve them,” he said.

“And I think the Man United fans will understand that they are probably not going to compete for the Premier League next year.

“So let them have that time, let Ole have that time to build a team for the next two or three years who are going to compete, not only at Premier League level, but at Champions League level.”

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