Rio Ferdinand admitted he was hurt by the way his time at Manchester United ended.
The English international enjoyed 12 successful years at Old Trafford, winning six Premier League titles, three League Cups and the 2008 Champions League.
However, six years after United’s European triumph, the door was shown to him at the end of David Moyes ’disastrous singles season. Looking back on his way out, Ferdinand told High performance podcast – with which GMS has an exclusive partnership – that he was dissatisfied with the way his departure was conducted.
Speaking in March 2020 about the moment he was told to leave, Ferdinand told Jake Humphrey and Damian Hughes:
“The way my career ended at Manchester United is almost like the book isn’t closed. I didn’t even say goodbye to the fans. There was no parting.
“You usually have an idea whether you’re going to get a new job or not, either way, before the last day of the season. Someone comes to you, CEO Ed Woodward, would normally come to you and go ‘we don’t agree’ or ‘we know you won’t sign, so look for new pastures at the end of the season ‘.
“I didn’t get any of them. On the last day of the season we play Southampton, we finish the games and I come to the locker room, and the directors and the rest always go into the locker room, home and away, and just shake the players’ hands.
“So Ed Woodward came in and then just stood next to me – or sat next to me – at that point, after the game, my boots were still on etceteri, and just said ‘listen we won’t renew your deal. Thanks for the services at the club, you can go and talk to other clubs about what you are going to do ‘.
“And I was like, wow! Is that the way it’s going to end? You must have been able to give me heads-up before, so I could actually say goodbye to the fans a little bit.
At that point I was just numb. I was just sitting there like a “whoa”!
“Since it took so late in the season, it was the last day of the season, I thought, well, there’s probably going to be some role here somewhere in me doing something, whether I’m playing or coaching / playing or anything else, or giving the opportunity to I do something because they would surely tell me something before this day.
“But it never happened, and I just felt I deserved to be able to say goodbye to the fans, the people at the club, the ladies at dinner, Cath at the front desk. But I just wasn’t given that kind of time to do that, and I was outraged for a while, to be honest. “
Reflecting on what was said about the way the club was run a year after Sir Alex Ferguson left and David Gill left as CEO, Ferdinand believed this showed that the club’s hierarchy had strayed and they had not treated loyal players badly.
He added: “It really made me think, ‘this place is not managed properly. This should not be done by the best team in the country, in Europe, in the world.’
“And then after that I see the way other players who have worked 10 or more years in clubs are leaving their club, and I think ‘wow, I didn’t get this. This is crazy.’
Ferdinand’s boredom may surprise some given the highlights he has achieved with the Red Devils. But he clearly felt that the way the situation was being handled did not reflect the high standards United had set for himself during his stay at Old Trafford.
As many podcast guests will tell you, showing humility and respect can often be the foundation of high performance, and Ferdinand’s departure is in many ways an indication of how the Red Devils have slipped in recent years.
Since Ferguson left in 2013, United have won just one FA Cup and Europa League, while on three occasions they have finished only among the top four. United’s poor treatment of Ferdinand and their struggles on the field are very symptoms of the same problem.
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