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04th Apr 2024

Rio Ferdinand settles biggest ‘white lies’ about David Moyes as Manchester United manager

Patrick McCarry

Rio Ferdinand

“That didn’t happen.”

Rio Ferdinand and David Moyes did not exactly see eye-to-eye during the Scots’ short tenure as manager of Manchester United.

On the latest Stick To Football, though, the former United and England defender went out of his way to try settle some myths and a couple of “white lies” about Moyes’ time at the club.

Back in the summer of 2013, Moyes arrived at United from Everton and took over from Alex Ferguson, who had been in charge of the club for 27 years, and had led them to 13 league titles and two European Cups. Moyes never truly got to grips with the enormity of his task and was relieved of his duties when it became mathematically impossible for the club to qualify for the following season’s Champions League.

There are many anecdotes from the Moyes era (if one can call it that) at United, including how he banned chips from the club canteen and showed the likes of Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic video clips of his Everton defenders to help improve their games. Ferdinand commented:

“There’s a few old wives’ tales and little white lies. They said he showed me and Nemanja Vidic videos of Phil Jagielka, or whatever… that didn’t happen.”

“It was Joleon Lescott!” joked Jamie Carragher.

Ferdinand then spoke of ‘two or three moments’ that planted seeds of doubt, regarding Moyes and his suitability to be Manchester United manager.

Rio Ferdinand
Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United pose in the dressing room with the Barclays Premier League trophy, in May 2011. (Photo by John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)

Rio Ferdinand on David Moyes

“One of the moments (after Alex Ferguson left),” Rio Ferdinand recalled, to Gary Neville, Roy Keane and the panel. “I remember getting on the plane, you know what those tours were like, I think we went to Asia. Tiring weren’t they, they were tiring. Long, two weeks, hard work, time-difference et cetera.

“I remember getting on the plane on the way home and seeing David Moyes sprawled out on the chair – looked disheveled. ‘Big club, this’– that’s what he said to me. And I thought, ‘ooh’.

“I’ve said this before but, like, a kit launch at Everton is at Goodison [Park], on the pitch, no disrespect. But a kit launch at United is like a worldwide tour – it’s very different.

“So, Moyes quickly grasped this at the end tour and I thought, ‘Ok, I’d liked to have thought he’d have known that before’.”

Ferdinand on Moyes’ cautious approach

The other big red flag, for Rio Ferdinand, came in the early weeks of the 2013/14 Premier League season, under David Moyes.

“We [prepare to] play against Liverpool and Chelsea,” Ferdinand recalled. “I remember in the training sessions – we were setting up to stop [Eden] Hazard and [Philippe] Coutinho. And he put a box in the middle of pitch – or in the area they play in, on the inside left.

“The players were looking at each other like, ‘We don’t really set up to stop individuals’. Never done that at United, don’t know if you guys remember anything like that. [Lionel] Messi, didn’t even have a big plan for him… maybe should have!

“It was almost like that mindset of you’ve got to worry about us, more than we’ve got to worry about you. The two games really made me think we are setting up almost like a defeatist mentality and very different to what title winning team was last season.

“So, it was a very big shift in the mindset, and that was one of the things a lot of the players were, not against him, but just it gives you a question mark in your head, and that little question mark is a big thing within a squad.”

The third issue Ferdinand had with Moyes was how he did not give much time to the players not selected in match-day squads. He stressed how Alex Ferguson always sought to keep squad players in the loop, while Moyes only spoke with players on a Monday morning, once a big game was out of the way.

Jamie Carragher spoke of how he was on punditry duty for Sky Sports, during that season, and how surprised he was to hear Moyes being so positive after Liverpool had beaten United at Anfield. “He was really pleased… I remember thinking that would’ve been the mentality of Everton, if they had come to Anfield – I know we lost but we put them on the back foot.”

United finished seventh in the league, that season, losing 12 games and missing out on European football completely. They were knocked out of the FA Cup by Swansea, in the third round, by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter finals, and (on penalties) by Sunderland in the League Cup.

Ryan Giggs replaced Moyes on April 22nd, 2014 and the Scot was out of work for seven months until he took up a La Liga post with Real Sociedad. He has been West Ham manager since December 2019.


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