Rio: Reds played for the shirt against City
Rio Ferdinand felt Manchester United’s incredible comeback victory over rivals City showed the team care about playing for the shirt and could handle the intense pressure of the occasion.
Paul Pogba netted twice and Chris Smalling fired home the decisive goal as the Reds came from two goals down at half-time to record a dramatic 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, denying Pep Guardiola’s league leaders the chance to secure the Premier League title in the process.
Former United defender Ferdinand, who played in 24 Manchester derbies during his glittering 12-year career at Old Trafford, knows all about what playing City means to the fans.
In an impassioned post on Instagram, Rio penned a lengthy message on how much the victory meant to him as a huge Reds supporter and heaped praise on the players for standing up to the challenge, while spoiling City’s celebrations.
“Beaten by your rivals at their ground and to then have to sit there and watch them lift the Premier League trophy – all of this while the home fans laugh at you there downtrodden, embarrassed, worthless, a beaten man/team,” he wrote.
“That is the nightmare the night before the derby game many of the players, if not all, would have had. That very picture would almost certainly have gone through their minds at some point leading up to that game.
“So to see the way the Manchester United team came back from two goals down, and it could have been more had City finished their chances, signifies to me that these guys really do care about playing for the shirt and how desperate they were not to allow that nightmare to become a reality!
“That is the type of pressure these games bring on – can you as an individual get rid of those terrible images and concentrate on the job in hand, or will you allow yourself to be drowned in such negativity that you can hardly warm up without it being on your mind constantly, and your warm-up is 25 minutes of bad touches and anxiety!
“This, can I add, all before the actual game begins – mental warfare! So well done to the boys for dealing with all that, especially after going two goals down (imagine the panic).”
Ferdinand also reserved special praise for Paul Pogba, who capped a Man of the Match display with two goals, which brought the Reds back on level terms early in the second half, and played an integral role in the remarkable turnaround.
“Paul Pogba was the talk before the game and he went on to make sure he was the talk after it, for the reasons he so desperately wants them to be,” Rio added.
“Knowing Paul, he will want to be talked about as a great player, but his extravagant hairstyles and dance moves have too often overshadowed his performances.
“Flashy hair and being seen to enjoy every bit of life is just the way Paul Pogba is and that’s his choice, so it must be respected. All he has to do is make sure he keeps producing performances and goals like we saw against City – that will be the conversation with him rather than the other stuff.
“He was let free or had to play in a more advanced role due to the scoreline, which allowed him to do what he does best – less defensive responsibility and allowed to attack like he learnt and did at Juventus with the results we saw in the second half at City.
“That’s the pressure he puts on himself, but one I’m sure he can deal with.”
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