Rio Ferdinand names 2 players Manchester United should have never let go of

Rio Ferdinand says Manchester United should have never sold Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans

Ever since one of the best Premier League defensive partnerships of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic left Manchester United, the club has struggled to field a sustainable defensive centre-back pairing and every partnership since Rio and Vidic has been largely unsustainable.

United have sold quite several centre-backs after they’ve failed to adjust to life at the club including the likes of Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind among others. However, Rio feels the Red Devils made an error when they sold Evans (2015) and Smalling (2020). Here is what he told FIVE via Daily Mail:

“I’ve said this many times, it was a travesty that they sold Jonny Evans,”

“He should never have been allowed to leave.” 

“He was the best defender, the best centre back, when I left. When me and [Nemanja] Vidic walked out of the door, the experience, the old timers, we were gone, he was the best defender that you’ve got. I just couldn’t believe that he was allowed to leave.”

“Him and Chris Smalling, to be fair. I don’t believe they should have been allowed to leave, I thought they knew the fabric of the club. You need those types.”

After two spells at West Bromwich Albion and Leicester City, Evans at the age of 36, made a return to the fold at Manchester United earlier this season, deputising for Lisandro Martinez. Smalling, on the other hand, ever since securing a loan move to Roma in 2019 and making it permanent in 2020, has been one of the best players for the Serie A side. He was also named the Man of the Match in the 2022 UEFA Europa Conference League Final.

Rio Ferdinand says Manchester United shouldn't have sold Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling.
Rio Ferdinand says Manchester United shouldn’t have sold Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling.

What could have been…

Both Evans and Smalling, in Rio’s view, possessed the qualities necessary to anchor the defence and provide stability during a period of transition for the club. Their departures, therefore, represented a loss of valuable experience and leadership within the squad. Rightly so, we needed a sense of continuity and stability when senior players left the club.

The absence of a reliable defensive partnership post-Ferdinand-Vidic era has been a recurring issue for United, with the club struggling to find suitable replacements for the legendary duo. The club has also constantly erred when it comes to transfers.

Under the stewardship of Sir Jim Ratcliffe, there’s hope for that to change, and hopefully, we sign players committed to the cause of resurrecting Manchester United and inspiring a change, a positive change of culture at the club.

Rio Ferdinand says Manchester United should have never sold Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans.
Rio Ferdinand says Manchester United should have never sold Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans.

Whether or not Erik ten Hag as the manager is the long-term answer to these questions remains uncertain, but irrespective of that, we must strive for success.

More Manchester United News-

The departures of Evans and Smalling represented missed opportunities for United to retain experienced defenders who could have provided valuable leadership and stability during a period of transition for the club. As United seek to address their defensive shortcomings and rebuild the squad, the lessons learned from these departures may shape future decisions regarding player recruitment and retention.