Rio Ferdinand fears Manchester City will win league 'by minimum of six points'
Published 12/09/2015 | 22:39
Former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand is worried Manchester City are much closer to winning silverware this season than Louis van Gaal's side.
City have won their opening four Barclays Premier League fixtures as they go in search of their third title in five years, and Manuel Pellegrini will also be hoping to progress deeper into the Champions League this term.
United are without a trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013, and are already five points adrift of their neighbours.
Ferdinand, talking in his role as a BT Sport pundit, reckons that pattern is likely to continue over the remainder of the campaign as Pellegrini has now figured out his best system.
"City's problem has been their system - not the players," he said.
"They have got Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure - they are all great players, but the system failed them.
"They have got players who are getting older and need to get closer to winning the Champions League to have a hope of winning it.
"We will see - City are our best hope this year and that hurts me. On current form you can't look any further than them. They look like they are going to sweep the league.
"Chelsea will be their biggest rivals and they can't get out of the blip they are in, but I just think City will win the league by a minimum of six or seven points.
"I think Pellegrini got it wrong last year. I think he has held his hands up. He's got the way that everyone was telling him to go for the last 18 months.
"Don't play 4-4-2 in the big games - you get outnumbered in midfield. You've not got the personnel to cope with it. So he's changed that system and it seems to have really helped him."
While City have started the season in fine fettle, United have amassed seven points from their first four games and scored just three goals.
Skipper Wayne Rooney has yet to break his duck and Van Gaal was told by Rooney and Michael Carrick that the dressing room was feeling 'flat'.
The Dutchman is now in his second season at Old Trafford but, despite leading United back into the Champions League, he has been criticised for his tactical approach.
Ferdinand says supporters need to accept the change in approach from the days of Ferguson and Sir Matt Busby, and believes they would still be perfectly happy if trophies were won with Van Gaal's more possession-based football.
"The philosophy is completely different," the former England defender said.
"Manchester United supporters now have to go away and re-educate themselves on how to watch Manchester United. Don't go there expecting to see free-flowing, attacking, gung-ho football.
"It's methodical, side to side, wait for an opportunity to come. It's a different type of football, very methodical, clear-cut pattern of the way he wants the team to play and it's totally different.
"I'm not saying that is the wrong way - it is the way he chooses to play and it is not the way Manchester United are used to playing.
"If it brings success, Manchester United fans will be delighted, I will be delighted. It is just a different way of playing football.
"People who are old enough to remember those times (Busby, etc), they want fairytale and they're going to reminisce about old times and want to see what they're used to. The younger generation, they're not so attached to that and they can move on, but they're going to want to move on to a style that they like."
Ferdinand also revealed he and former defensive partner Nemanja Vidic had discussed the recent transfer business at United - with Van Gaal having spent over a quarter of a billion pounds on new recruits - and also questioned why a new centre-back was not signed over the summer.
"I just think, with Daley Blind playing centre-half every week, you think you've spent all that money, where is the centre-half?," he added.
"Because you didn't buy Blind as a centre-half. I was talking to Nemanja Vidic the other day on the phone and we were both saying the change is unreal in terms of the personnel and the transfer policy.
"We were saying, 'If they'd spent £50million when we were there, we'd have won how much more?'. If you'd got somebody at that time who was worth that. But the landscape changes. We were just reminiscing about old times and imagining if we'd had that amount of money to be spent on our squad.
"It is totally different and it doesn't look like anything that I knew when I was there. It's just all changed. Even the sponsor that's been there how many years, Nike, and now it's Adidas. Everything's changing, other than the groundsman and the chef."
:: Watch PSV Eindhoven v Manchester United on Tuesday 15 September live and exclusive from 7.30pm on BT Sport 2. BT Sport is the new home of European football, with all UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches exclusively live. Visit bt sport.com/europe