Man U: ‘It’s where you win trophies’

Speaking in advance of his testimonial next month, and at a time when Rooney's future is in the air, Ferdinand revealed he has received "loads of offers" during his 11 years at United but said he was never tempted to leave because of his belief that Old Trafford is the only place to be to win trophies.

The former England international, who said that he hopes to finish his playing career at United, pointed to Cristiano Ronaldo's £80-million transfer to Real Madrid in 2009 as evidence that the grass is not always greener elsewhere. Although Ferdinand acknowledged that Ronaldo has excelled in Spain, he questioned whether winning one La Liga title and the Copa del Rey in four years at Madrid was a satisfactory return.

"I don't see where you go better from here," Ferdinand said. "For instance, Cristiano has been ridiculous individually, but has he won more trophies since leaving than what we've won? That's the way I look at it. I wouldn't say he shouldn't have gone; it was his dream to go there, so you have to respect that. But I just look at things in a black-and-white way: I want to win trophies so why would I leave here?

"Who am I going to go to who is going to win more trophies than us? Obviously you could say that Barcelona have won more trophies but I'm in my country where I'm from, and you're proud when you win the league in your country.

"I've had loads of offers over the years to go to other football clubs but I've never really wanted to go anywhere. I came to Man United for one simple reason and that was to win trophies, so I could retire and say how many trophies I've won and look back and say I've made a success of my career.

Mature enough
"That's all you do, and I'm sure most young players, or players in their prime, when they're asked to come to Manchester United, that should be the question they ask themselves: 'Have I got a chance to win?' Do you want to be part of that history of the club? Normally the answer is 'yes'."

Asked whether that was the sort of message he would convey to Rooney, Ferdinand replied: "I think when someone is at your club who has been there for the length of time he's been there – I think this is his ninth season – he's more than clued up to understand the dynamics of the club and what goes on at the club, and so he's mature enough now and old enough to make his own mind up."

Whatever the outcome for Rooney, the best possible news for United supporters would be that Ronaldo is brought back to Old Trafford. The Portuguese has issued mixed messages about his future but his most recent remarks suggested he is keen to remain in Madrid.

"Could it happen? I don't know the financial situation of [United]," Ferdinand said. "Obviously, I think if you asked any Man United fan, they'd want me to say, 'yeah', and the players are no different, I'm sure."

At the age of 34, Ferdinand is about to start his 12th season at United, on the back of a title-winning campaign when Sir Alex Ferguson claimed the central defender played the best football of his Old Trafford career. He signed a new one-year contract in May and, if everything goes to plan, United will be where he ends his playing days.

"I'd like to [finish playing at United], yeah. I wouldn't play for anyone else in England. I wouldn't want to come to Old Trafford as an away player – it just wouldn't feel right. If I played for another team, it would have to be abroad."

Preseason training
This is the start of a new era at Old Trafford and, although Ferdinand said that one week of preseason training is nowhere near long enough to assess the differences between David Moyes and Ferguson, the central defender was full of praise for the way the new manager has overhauled the backroom staff at United, in particular the decision to name Ryan Giggs as player-coach.

"I think this is the perfect situation," said Ferdinand. "I thought it was a masterstroke to put Giggsy on the coaching staff because he's got the experience, he's an icon at the football club, he's got the respect of the players and he can be a great sounding board for the manager.

"Also, bringing in an ex-player like Phil Neville, who has got a great work ethic and who is just starting his coaching career – I think it's just great to have some players who are entwined in the club's history to be part of his staff, but also to have [the manager's] blend and his people that are coming in to give new ideas to add to that is good."

With 430 United appearances to his name, there is no shortage of memories for Ferdinand to draw on, but three key moments stand out. "I think winning the first Premier League trophy [in 2003] because you just think it's never going to happen, so to get that one under your belt was great.

"The Champions League [final win against Chelsea in 2008] was just an unbelievable night – you just don't think in your wildest dreams that you're ever going to get a chance to get your hands on that trophy.

Threats to United's hopes
"To be captain that night was phenomenal, a bonus on top of everything else. Probably the manager's last trophy as well – that's a great part of this club's history, so to be a part of his last championship team is a great thing."

Ferdinand expects Manchester City and Chelsea to be the main threat to United's hopes of retaining their title, which was the sixth he has won since his £30-million transfer in 2002, when he arrived from Leeds United with a clear idea of what he was setting out to achieve.

"I think I said on the first day that I went to the club, I want to be able to walk out with my head held high and etched in some way in the club's history. You only do that by being successful," Ferdinand said.

"There are only a few clubs in the world that set the demands that this club sets, and I think the top players want that on their shoulders – they want what the club, the history and the fans at the time demand, as well as what the individuals at the club demand of each other.

"You can only probably count on one hand the amount of clubs that have got that within their walls, and we're one of them." – © Guardian News & Media 2013

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