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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rio's team-mate tales

United's performances on the pitch are, in part, born out of togetherness and camaraderie off it. Rio Ferdinand gives us the inside track on life in the first-team dressing room...

Best trainer: Scholesy. He’s such a good passer, and his team always wins in training.

Worst trainer: I’d say Wes or Wazza. They must be saving themselves for the games.

Fittest squad member: Wayne or Ronaldo. They’re both explosive players that could run at the same pace in the last minute of a game as they could in the first.

Most outrageous skill: Obvious… Ronaldo. Nani tries to compete, but to no avail!

Toughest tackler: Wayne, Vida and Scholesy. There are some big tackles that go in. Maybe they don’t like their team-mates.

Anyone play out of position? No, the manager doesn’t let us. Back in the day I used to play up front in training. But that was stopped, I think I was too much of a threat to the forwards.

Joker in the dressing room: The sly joker is Fletch. People don’t suspect him, but when something’s going on he is normally involved. Pique and Fletch are always at the centre of pranks with player’s clothes. Me? I don’t get involved. It’s not my game. I’m a very mature member of the squad now so I don’t get drawn into the young boys’ antics!

Most intelligent player: Edwin van der Sar would like to think that he’s the most intelligent. I’d probably put myself up there [laughs]. But seeing as Edwin thinks he’s the most intelligent, let’s let him believe it.

Person you'd least like on your quiz team: Got to be Ando (Anderson). Considering he joined the club at the same time as Nani, Ando’s English is shocking by comparison! Nani is holding television interviews in English and Anderson struggles to hold a conversation with the lads. He wouldn’t get us many answers.

Best dressed: I’d say the person that puts the most effort in is Ronaldo. He doesn’t just wake up, go into his wardrobe and throw something on. He tries really hard. Every day his clothes are a planned event.

Worst dressed: Tomasz Kuszczak! I say that purely for the electric blue shirt he wore one night out once. It was shocking. It was one of the worst colours that I’ve ever seen. The thing is, he’d saved it just for that occasion as well.

Best dressing room music: Mine. My iPod has by far the greatest variety of music; 80s pop, 80’s soul, R‘n’B, reggae, dance, old house music... there’s a mixture there. Unfortunately, some of the young European lads don’t appreciate old Hacienda house music. Patrice likes to get involved with selecting dressing room music. He tends to cater for the foreign lads a bit more with his Euro pop. To be fair to him he mixes it up with a bit of R‘n’B. But he doesn’t have the variety and depth of music knowledge that I have.

Boss banks on nothing

United may have a handsome lead at the top of the Premier League table, but Sir Alex Ferguson will not allow his side to become complacent with the finishing line in sight.

Chelsea unexpectedly dropped two points at home to Wigan on Monday evening, leaving them five points behind the Reds with only four games remaining, but the United manager is demanding total concentration until the season's end.

“We're in a good position, but with my experience in life you don't take things for granted,” said Sir Alex, after presenting United legend Denis Law with a Nationwide Lifetime Achievement Award.

“We've still got difficult games. We have to go to Blackburn, Chelsea and Wigan, which are three difficult away games. Because we have difficult games, there is still a lot to play for.

“Chelsea dropping points against Wigan was a bonus for us. We had a massive result against Arsenal on Sunday, so it could go to the wire. We can't take anything for granted. We could lose at Chelsea, we could lose all the games. It is a very difficult league.”

Although he is preaching caution, Sir Alex is certain his players have what it takes to retain the title, and is delighted with their enduring commitment to chasing results without sacrificing entertainment.

"Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez have 72 goals between them, which is a great return for three players and shows the emphasis we put on attacking play," he said.

"We now have to do our job and the squad is capable of that, they showed that last season when we had a lot of injuries and went 2-0 down at Everton but still came back to win 4-2. If that is not a test, nothing is.

“It's been a really competitive league this season. Arsenal have had their moments and all the time when we were competing with Arsenal, Chelsea were creeping up behind us. When they beat Arsenal, I knew that they were right back in it but we just have to do our job.”