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Rio: Red starlets looking up to me

RIO Ferdinand is relaxed about his status as one of Manchester United's elder statesmen.

Whereas manager Alex Ferguson used to concentrate on the remaining members of the famed 'Class of 92' when underlining the drive required to be successful over an extended period of time, he has now inserted Ferdinand's name into the list.

Were it not for the feats of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, Ferdinand's medal collection would be among the most glittering the game has ever seen.

Now that experience is not only being used on the field, it is also coming in handy off it as Ferdinand helps mastermind another championship tilt.

"It is inevitable when you get to a certain stage in your career, you get looked upon as one of the senior players," Ferdinand, 34, said.

"The others automatically look to you to be the people who are more vocal, not just on the pitch but in the dressing rooms and on the training pitch. That is just the way it happens.

"If you are one of the senior players, you have to use that responsibility the best way you can, by enhancing the performance of others around you."

United head to Norwich tomorrow looking to consolidate their place at the top of the Premier League.

For Ferdinand, another Premier League title would represent number six, greater than a 50pc strike-rate for his time at Old Trafford.

And it is that, not the huge amounts of cash Ferdinand has accrued during his time in the game, that remains of greatest interest to the former West Ham man.

"People talk about money and all the stuff that goes on around football, but to me, it just comes back to winning," he said.


"It doesn't matter how much money you have, at the end of your career, what you will be most proud of are your achievements.

"If you have won things and continue to win things for this great club, that is something to talk about.

"I wouldn't sit down and talk about how much money I have. It would be more to do with what good times we had and some of the sorrow moments, when we lost games we should have won.

"Football is the most important thing. At Manchester United, winning is definitely at the top of everyone's agenda."

Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney has set himself the challenge of surpassing Bobby Charlton's goalscoring records for United and England.

Rooney was absent from international duty this week due to an ankle injury he sustained during United's win over Aston Villa on Saturday.

While he missed the chance to add to his 32 goals for his country in England's 4-2 defeat in Sweden, Rooney needs 17 more to emulate Charlton's international tally and another 64 to equal the former midfield legend's record at Old Trafford.

At 27, the former Everton man clearly feels time is on his side to overhaul both and looks to the likes of Scholes and Giggs as role models.

"Bobby Charlton holds both (records) so that's a great challenge," Rooney said. "The guy is a legend and is such a presence around the club.

"If I could break his record as Manchester United's top goalscorer and maybe even England's... wow! That is such a great incentive.

"I want to play as long as I can and to have shared a dressing room with the likes of Giggsy and Paul Scholes is inspiration to do just that.

"At least another 10 years would be great."

Rooney is already fourth in the overall scorers list at United but has had to take a backseat role this season with Robin van Persie taking centre stage.

Rooney has been deployed in a deeper position but is itching to play a key role up front again soon.

"I can see myself one day moving back into midfield -- I can do it -- but I'm not ready yet. I'm a centre-forward and I score goals," he added.

"I feel I have plenty of goals left in me. I'll play there (midfield) if I have to and I have done so at United, but goals are still my main aim and the biggest part of my game."