MANCHESTER UNITED manager Sir Alex Ferguson has warned defender Rio Ferdinand that his days as an automatic first-choice starter are no more.
United’s recent success has been built on the central defensive partnership between Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
But a series of injuries, coupled with the emergence of Johnny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, has seen the former England skipper play a reduced role this season.
Ferdinand was dropped to the bench on Saturday against Everton having struggled in the 6-1 defeat by Manchester City a fortnight ago, and ahead of tonight’s Champions League clash against Otelul Galati, Ferguson suggested the 32-year-old may have to tailor his game in order to lengthen his career.
He said: “I explained to Rio the other day is simply this: That we have two young centre-halves coming through and I’m have very happy to have four of them, and I hope to keep the four of them for a long time.
“Rio is almost 33 now and he has lost a yard of pace he had five years ago. That doesn’t mean to say he can’t tailor his game in a different way.
“Whereas he used to rely on his pace, he doesn’t now. We’ve all faced that moment in your career when you realise you have to change your game. Rio will do the same and he’ll be fine.”