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Friday 15 December 2017

Ferdinand: Special One adds new dynamic to showdown

Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

RIO FERDINAND has admitted the Mourinho factor offers a fresh twist to Manchester United's Premier League clash with Chelsea – but it does not necessarily mean the Londoners will get any closer.

United finished 14 points ahead of Chelsea last term, and the title was already secure by the time Juan Mata scored the only goal at Old Trafford in May.

So even though David Moyes has struggled to bring in the reinforcements he feels are necessary for his own squad, Mourinho needs to do more as he has ground to make up. Yet the bookies have still installed Chelsea as championship favourites, a situation whose only rational explanation can come through the force of Mourinho's personality.

Ferdinand can hardly ignore it. But he has been around long enough to know charisma itself cannot secure silverware.

"The fact they have a new manager adds a new dynamic to the game," said Ferdinand.

"Mourinho obviously has a big personality. He has been there before so he knows the league.

"Whether it helps them get closer to where we were last year remains to be seen. It will certainly have no bearing on the way we approach the game."

Moyes seems to be relishing his role as underdog, claiming: "We are getting written off quite often. In the main this club tends to say 'we'll show you' if that is the case. It is in my nature. It was definitely in the previous manager's nature."

Yet part of that is also Moyes' doing. It was the Scot who made such an issue of United's tough start, which after tonight's game sends them to Liverpool before a trip to Manchester City on September 22.

Yet Ferdinand does not see it as being much of an issue.

Rather than worry about where United might be if results do not go the way they want, he prefers to take a more positive view.

"When I first looked at them I thought it is a tough start for the new manager," said Ferdinand.

"But it is an exciting start too.

"If we are in a good position after these first six games the confidence will be great."

Yet, positive or negative, Ferdinand is adamant United's status after those six games will not be an indicator of where they are going to finish.

"It is too early," he said.

"We always say you don't find out where you are until the Christmas period.

Chelsea have already made a decent start, securing victories in both their games. And Frank Lampard has made his mark too, netting during the opening weekend by driving home a sensational free-kick. Ferdinand and Lampard go way back of course, to their youth days at West Ham. And it is no surprise to see the pair still going strong in their mid-30s.

"I thought he would score on the first day of the season to remind people he is still about and as hungry as ever," he said.

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