Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is looking to put an ”awful Christmas” behind him as the English champions continue their quest to retain the Premier League title.
A narrow 1-0 New Year’s Day win at home to Birmingham City kept United in second place, two points behind leaders Arsenal.
However, Ferdinand is still trying to come to terms with last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at West Ham, his former club, where the England centre-back’s younger brother, Anton, scored the Hammers’ equalising goal.
”We are still there or thereabouts in the league and if we had been offered this position at the start of the season, we would have taken it,” Ferdinand said. ”But nine points from four games over Christmas is not satisfactory for me at all.
”I have had an awful Christmas period, losing to West Ham and my brother scoring as well.
”But sometimes, you have to take these things on the chin and make sure they don’t happen again.”
Encouraging news for United, who unlike Arsenal won’t be affected by players leaving for the African Nations Cup later this month, came with the sight of Park Ji-Sung making his first start in eight months after a cruciate operation against Birmingham.
”The team have done very well without me but now I want to be part of it again,” said the South Korean midfielder.
”My knee is 100% okay. I wasn’t worried about getting injured during the game and I felt no reaction afterwards.”
Although United weren’t at their best against Birmingham, they didn’t concede a goal. It was the twelfth time this season that an opposition side had failed to score against the meanest defence in league.
”We take pride in clean sheets,” Ferdinand said. ”We always harp on about the fact if we keep clean sheets, we have players capable of scoring goals.
”It is down to us lads at the back to put ourselves in front of the goal and make sure the ball doesn’t go into the back of the net.
”We have a good record defensively. That is the platform we can build on to be a championship-winning team. It happened last year and it would be great if it happened again.” — Sapa-AFP