Tributes pour in for Ferdinand
Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has paid tribute to departing team-mates Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand after both centre-backs were allowed to leave Old Trafford.
Ferdinand announced on Monday his career with the Red Devils had come to an end, following centre-back partner Vidic out of the club as the Serbian had already signed a deal with Inter Milan for next season.
The defensive pair were pivotal to United's success in recent years and they were integral parts of the title-winning teams in 2007, 2008 and 2009 - both were named in the PFA Team of the Year at the end of each campaign - and Carrick knows they will be missed.
"1st Vida (Vidic) now Rio, we've shared so much," the England international wrote on Twitter.
"Both 2 of the very best defenders of ALL TIME and I don't say that lightly,
"Vida, simply the best out and out defender I've seen. Aggression and desire to win at all costs, scared centre forwards to death!
"Rio, A Rolls Royce, best all round CB, got the lot, defend, quick, composed beyond belief and made those around him better players."
Carrick was joined in his appreciation of Ferdinand by current and former goalkeepers David de Gea and Edwin van der Sar and winger Ashley Young.
"Thanks for everything @rioferdy5 and good luck in your future my friend. It's been a pleasure playing and learning with you! #Legend," wrote Spaniard De Gea.
Van der Sar posted on Twitter: "Just want to thank @rioferdy5 & Vida for all they have done for me in the success we achieved @ManUtd!#rocksolid."
Young added: "@rioferdy5 honoured to have been your teammate, you'll be missed #legend."
The decision to let Ferdinand go ignores the advice of interim manager Ryan Giggs, who insisted earlier this month the defender could still make a useful contribution and should be offered a new deal.
Former Reds defender Gary Neville appeared to question the move when he wrote on Twitter: "So it looks like Rio and Vida allowed to leave at once!!! A conveyor belt has become a cliff!"
Ex-United striker Dwight Yorke described the 35-year-old Ferdinand as "colossal".
"The word colossal comes into play as that's the type of player that Ferdinand was," he told Sky Sports.
"It doesn't come as a surprise but it's an end of an era for himself and Nemanja Vidic - it's unbelievable the amount of success they've had.
"Rio can leave that football club with his head held incredibly high in terms of what he has achieved."
Ferdinand moved to Old Trafford from Leeds in July 2002 for a then British record transfer fee of £29.1million, which also made him the world's most expensive defender, and he went on to win the Premier League six times, the Champions League once, two League Cups and a Club World Cup.
Vidic believes Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, both of whom were included in England's World Cup squad, and Jonny Evans can step up and fill the void left by his and Ferdinand's absence.
"I think it's up to the new manager to decide but what I have to say is I have been training and playing with these guys and they definitely have all the ability they need to become top players," he told manutd.com.
"I think Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, first of all, are people who are attracting a lot of interest here because they are national-team players and the future of English football, not just Manchester United.
"They definitely have the physical strength, pace and technique to play for this club and I think now is the time for them to step up next year and to maybe form the new partnership with Jonny Evans.
"I believe those three have to be the players who are carrying on and becoming the United defenders for the next seven or eight years. I think they have that capability and the experience to step up."