Ferdinand at his best

Rio Ferdinand... hoping to add a few more to his medals haul.-AP

The centre-back is approaching a decade at Old Trafford and the 33-year-old looks almost certain to be celebrating that landmark by winning yet another Barclays English Premier League title.

Rio Ferdinand has been back to his best for Manchester United in recent weeks and boss Sir Alex Ferguson insists there is no better centre-back in England.

Ferdinand is approaching a decade at Old Trafford and the 33-year-old looks almost certain to be celebrating that landmark by winning yet another Barclays English Premier League title.

In the absence of injured skipper Nemanja Vidic, Ferdinand and Jonny Evans have formed a formidable partnership at the heart of the United defence. And Ferguson has praised the contribution made by former West Ham and Leeds man Ferdinand.

The Red Devils boss said: “Rio has had to change his game. He can't rely on his pace the way he used to as a kid. He was such a pure athlete and he was so mobile he could outrun anyone. He used to take advantage of that. He can't do that now so his positioning has improved and he plays a bit deeper than he used to. Now his experience is a vital part of his game. He has gone a long way to helping Jonny Evans come on and the young keeper (David de Gea), too. He has had a lot of responsibility with Vidic being out. His form is probably his most consistent for a long time. Even though he was more of an athlete in his younger days he would make the odd mistake through his casualness. He had that wee trait in him. Now you don't get any mistakes at all.”

Ferdinand joined United for GBP30 million from Leeds in July 2002 and he has never looked back since moving across the Pennines.

He has almost clocked up 400 appearances for the EPL champions and if United retain their title as expected, it will be his sixth winners' medal. And Ferdinand insists he is not thinking of hanging up his boots for the foreseeable future.

“My association with the club will be there forever,” he said. “Moving on was never in my mind.

“That first press conference, when I walked through the doors of the club, seeing the manager, seeing the pictures of all the old players, I grasped it straight away. I wanted to be part of the history of this club and to do that I have to stay here for a good amount of time. I achieved that and hopefully I have a few more chapters. But when I do eventually hang my boots up, I have great memories to take away. The manager said the other day that not many players play for one club for 10 years any more. It doesn't happen. To do it at a club like Manchester United that are fighting for league titles and different trophies every year, is good.”

He added: “There are not many players who leave this club doing exactly what they want to do. It wouldn't be good finishing your career with a loss, or by not winning something.

The losses now do my head in. To think I wouldn't be able to rectify it the season after because I had retired or left would rankle. I am not thinking about retirement. I am trying to play as long as I can. I have another year after this and I want to do another 10. But whenever it is, I would want to go out on a high note.”

Ferdinand's team-mates Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes have proved age is no barrier and it would be no surprise to see Ferdinand remain at Old Trafford for at least a few more years and adding to his impressive medal haul.

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