If there is one sports star who has gone far beyond the call of duty in sharing his personal experiences with fans, it is ex-Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand.
Recently, he has made headlines for his documentary, “Being mum and dad,” which is about dealing with the loss of his wife, Rebecca, to cancer in 2015.
His autobiography, “#2sides”, was released before her death, but like his documentary, Ferdinand’s book is remarkably revealing.
One aspect of his personality that shines through is his fiercely competitive nature. He explains why, under Sir Alex Ferguson, United were psychologically a step ahead their rivals.
According to Ferdinand, United’s closest challengers all celebrated their trophies with open top bus parades, while under Sir Alex Ferguson, this was a rare occurrence. The difference, explained the former England captain, was that winning was viewed as a luxury at other clubs, while at Manchester United, it was seen as non-negotiable and nothing out of the ordinary.
United won 13 of their 20 league titles under Ferguson, usurping Liverpool as the most historically successful club in England. Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City all picked up titles in between United’s successes. However, each time another team threatened their dominance, Ferguson’s side would reassert it within a few years at most.
Since Ferguson bowed out as a champion in 2013, United have not come close to winning a 21st title. David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and current manager José Mourinho have struggled to instil the same ruthless winning streak in their players that came so naturally to United under Ferguson.
I can’t help but wonder if United will celebrate their next Premier League title with an open top bus parade. As a Chelsea fan, I hope that they never even have the opportunity to make that decision. However, if I do have to watch United win again, I would feel a lot less terrified of them than I did when Ferdinand was at his prime if they sent out a message to the world that without Ferguson, title success at the club was no longer compulsory.