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Rio Ferdinand explains why he enjoyed Leeds spell more than Man Utd

Rio Ferdinand explains why he enjoyed his spell at Leeds United more than his time at Man Utd, and it’s got people talking.

The 42 year old former defender joined the Whites from boyhood club West Ham United in 2000 for £18million – then a world-record fee for a defender.

While he failed to win a trophy with Leeds, Ferdinand did manage to reach the Champions League semi-finals in 2001 and served as club captain before joining the Red Devils in 2002.

Former Leeds United defender Rio Ferdinand has been speaking about Marcelo Bielsa.

The Englishman’s £30million move to Old Trafford smashed the transfer record he set two years earlier and he went on to earn legendary status at Manchester United.

Ferdinand made a total of 455 appearances for Man Utd and won nine major honours under Sir Alex Ferguson, including six Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2008.

However, the pressure of playing for one of Europe’s biggest clubs dampened Ferdinand’s experience and he admits he missed the “free-spirit” atmosphere at Leeds.

“As much as there was a lot of talk about me going to Man United and it was emotional, for a lot of the fans it was difficult to accept,” Ferdinand told BT Sport last season.

“But I think in the long term it was proven that the reasons why I went were justified, but I probably had my most enjoyable football when I played here [at Leeds].

“I loved it at West Ham but we didn’t win that much, I loved it at Man United, we won a lot but with that came a lot of pressure.

“So the enjoyment factor isn’t as free-spirited as it was when I was here at Leeds where we won a fair amount in terms of games, got to some good heights, Champions League semi-final etcetera, and there wasn’t that added pressure or expectations with it.”

Rio made 73 appearances for Leeds and was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year for the 2001/02 season.

His teammates in West Yorkshire included compatriots Danny Mills, Jonathan Woodgate, Alan Smith and David Batty, along with Harry Kewell and Robbie Keane.

“We were a young squad, all good lads, all socialised together as well and I just had some fantastic times here, really enjoyed my football here, enjoyed my time, the people were great,” Ferdinand added.

“Where I lived was fantastic so I’ve never had anything bad to say about Leeds. It’s always been somewhere that I’ve always appreciated at it was part of my journey.”

Meanwhile, Rio Ferdinand admitted in October 2021, that he is doubtful that Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa would be able to improve ‘big-name players’.

Talking on his YouTube channel, Ferdinand discussed the Leeds boss.

“He focuses on tactics,” he said. “The big thing about Bielsa is that, has he got it right with big-name players?

“To do it with players that are desperate for a career, players that are playing in the lower leagues and players that just want to be taken to the top. They want to be on that ride and journey to the top. They will do anything for you.

“The trick is, getting an established player to change the way that you do things, change their mindset, change their output on a daily basis, physically, to mad levels.

“To do that on a daily basis is the trick and it’s a difficult part because there will be some players out there who will go ‘that’s not the way I see football’ – I think he is a top manager, love the way he sets his teams up and he is fearless in the way he goes about it.”

Ferdinand was replying to a claim that it would be interesting to see how Bielsa would get on with ‘big players’ following his success at Leeds.

The only team that the Whites boss has managed involving real star players is Argentina where he struggled to have the desired impact.

He did has some success when managing to guide a variation of the team to Olympic glory as they won the gold medal at the 2004 games but, as enforced in the rules, that team was largely made up of U23s players.

Ferdinand’s view does raises an interesting question of whether Bielsa would be effective at a club with more established top-quality players.

Considering the jobs he has done with teams like Athletic Bilbao and Leeds, it is hard to imagine that he would be anything less than a success if given a job at one of Europe’s truly elite clubs.

As mentioned, Rio Ferdinand explains why he enjoyed Leeds spell more than Man Utd, and this is what social media users said about it…

@CharlieMyers888: Best player I’ve ever seen live in a Leeds shirt. Suppose I would say this as a Leeds fan but I never felt he hit the same heights (and England at 2002 WC) when he was at that other team! Scars of his departure have healed now so I can appreciate in hindsight how good he was!

Ash Gregory: David O Leary also said he loved living in Leeds. I watched a clip once of O’Leary revisiting the street he lived on in Leeds and he said he really misses it there. It did look like it had a good atmosphere and a nice street

@Jos50649740: About time he talked sense 👏

@N4THP4Z: Probably was for him to be fair, no real pressure on him to perform his best every game, being at united all them years ago was totally different to being at Leeds.

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