Rio Ferdinand spoke of undeniable ‘facts’ when claiming the excuse-making Liverpool are once again in the shadow of their bitter rivals Man Utd.
Liverpool and Man Utd experienced wildly different seasons, but both ended with the same outcome – in the top four and trophyless. The Reds’ hopes of retaining their title disintegrated in dramatic fashion around the turn of the year. A woeful run of six successive home defeats mid-season was the club’s worst since 1953/54. Though ultimately, a late-season surge saw them secure top four at Leicester’s expense.
Conversely, Man Utd’s league campaign was relatively straight forward. After overcoming three defeats from their first six, the Red Devils embarked on a superb streak of 10 wins in 13. From that point forward, Man Utd never left the top four.
Progress was also made to at least the last eight in three cup competitions. However, Man Utd came up short on each occasion. That ensured their wait for a major trophy will extend into its fifth season next year.
The contrasting fortunes of the two rivals this year can be debated, but Ferdinand believes Man Utd’s second-place finish puts them clear of Liverpool despite their unprecedented injury woes in central defence.
Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all suffered season-ending injuries during the campaign. Nevertheless, Ferdinand seemingly categorises this much-publicised explanation as an “excuse”.
“I think in the league we’ve got what we wanted, which was an improvement,” the former centre-half told Goal.
“I think Man United at the end of last season finished 30-odd points behind Liverpool.
“Liverpool are now behind us and they’ll have their excuses and reasons why but the cold facts are that we have gained that much ground on them that we’ve gone past them this season.
“That shows vast improvement and we’re second in the league.
“By no means are we the finished article. But I think at the beginning of the season if you’d said you’d finish second in the league from where we were I think they’d have snapped your hand off.”
Man Utd reeling in wing target hunt
Meanwhile, Manchester United have been overtaken by Ajax in the race for FC Nordsjaelland forward Kamaldeen Sulemana, according to a report.
However, they have reportedly been unfruitful. The website claims Ajax now have the edge over United in the race for Sulemana.
Nordsjaelland want to receive £15m for the teenager and are happy to let him progress elsewhere. But it seems Ajax are closer to convincing them than United.
Murtough’s Ajax counterpart Marc Overmars has reportedly given more “personal attention” to the potential transfer. Therefore, it could be easier for Sulemana to move to the Dutch club.
Another factor behind this would be that he would not require a work permit to make that move. Sulemana does not yet meet the post-Brexit requirements to join a Premier League club, putting United at a further disadvantage.