Belfast Telegraph

Rio Ferdinand calls Manchester City and Liverpool also-rans

By Ian Herbert

Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand has dismissed two of the clubs who have tried and failed to shatter the newly crowned Premier League champions' stranglehold on the title, declaring Liverpool "have not been seen since" after pushing for the title under Rafael Benitez four years ago

On a day when Manchester City's gloom in seeing United dethrone them for a 20th title triumph was compounded by strong suggestions from France that Paris Saint-Germain have beaten them to the signing of the Napoli striker Edinson Cavani, Ferdinand also took a pop at Roberto Mancini's side. "It's always sweet when you win the title and it's nice to do it here, in the right way and in style, not on goal difference," said Ferdinand, following Monday's 3-0 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford. "We have won it outright and we have won it comfortably."

The United chief executive, David Gill, said that they did not consider any one club to be their prime challengers – 12 months after City's title brought premature suggestions that the balance of power was shifting in Manchester.

City had hoped to begin their spending early this summer, though reports from France suggest that Cavani is ready to agree a deal with PSG, under which he would command £7.2m a year plus bonuses and join his former Napoli team-mate Ezequiel Lavezzi in Paris.

Ferdinand, who has now won six titles at Old Trafford, said securing the championship so emphatically – they may yet break the points record set by Jose Mourinho's Chelsea in 2005 by winning their last four games – reveals the "resilience and the attitude in the squad the manager [Sir Alex Ferguson] has instilled. A lot of other teams would probably have fallen away. We played Liverpool a couple of seasons ago when they were fighting for the title, we beat them and got to the league before them and they've not been seen since. That shows the mentality and character this club has."

Sunday's visit to the Emirates provides the chance to expose the gulf between United and Arsenal. Robin van Persie, whose hat-trick against Villa sealed the title and took his tally in the Premier League this season to 24 goals, reflected on how moving to Old Trafford last summer had delivered everything that his former club Arsenal had not. "I had to wait a long time," Van Persie said. "I've been speaking about it with Rio and he's been telling me: 'Listen, whatever happens, that's the standard.' He's right. From now on, our new standard is we want to be champions every year and we want to win more."

Ferdinand dismissed suggestions that this United title-winning side is inferior to others. "I think it is pointless trying to compare teams because it is different eras," he said. "It makes good pub talk and good media talk, but for us, it is neither here nor there – it's about winning. We respect all of the teams that have gone before us," Ferdinand added, "but we just want to be part of this club's history."

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