Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has backed Jose Mourinho to bring the Premier League title back to Old Trafford in his first campaign with the club.
In an exclusive interview with Yahoo Sport, BT Sport pundit Ferdinand believes Mourinho has what it takes to transform the mood around Old Trafford after three years of despair following the retirement of legendary manager Alex Ferguson.
With the imminent signing of Paul Pogba from Juventus adding to the high profile arrivals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ferdinand suspects the mood had already shifted for the better at United.
“If I had to pick a team that would win the title now, I would go for Man Utd,” Ferdinand told Yahoo.
“It is such a tough Premier League to predict this season, but I get a sense that optimism is rising at United again and that has not been the case over the last three years.
“The arrival of Mourinho has changed everything at the club because he is a winner and that is what what United should be all about.
“The manager is vitally important to the direction of any club. He has to drive the team, push them to do the right things and everything associated with the club evolved around him. He has to get a positive and message across that will hopefully produce success and Man Utd have the right man in place to do that now.
“I would have loved it if Mourinho could have taken over from Sir Alex Ferguson when he retired, but it is all ifs, buts and maybes now. It didn’t happen, but they have the right man in place now.”
Ferdinand’s bold statements come after he attended the Wayne Rooney testimonial match on Wednesday, with the former defender who won six Premier League titles in his time with United detecting a shift in mindset at the club following the move to replace manager Louis van Gaal with Mourinho.
“I got the sense at Old Trafford the other night that they are thinking about winning the title again now, which has not been the mentality over the last couple of years,” he continues.
“Everything was a bit rigid under Van Gaal, but the players should be playing with more freedom now and that is why I’m pretty confident United can do well this season.
“This is such a tough Premier League title race to try and call at this stage, but I think the title will be won by one of the two Manchester teams and that is simply because they are now being managed by the most successful managers the game has seen in recent years.”
Ferdinand’s admiration for new City boss Pep Guardiola also shone through, as he suggested the Spaniard will relish the chance to prove his worth after enjoying so much success with Barcelona and then Bayern Munich.
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“Guardiola has had ten years of winning trophies at clubs that had fantastic teams in place and maybe he felt the time was right to take on a big challenge at Manchester City,” he continues.
“He will know that winning here straight away will not be easy, but that may be what he wants at this stage of his career and when you look at his record of success and everything about the guy, he will do well at City.
“They are starting to make a few big money signings now and that will help them. Guardiola will get it right at City, even if it takes him a year to get everything the way he wants it.”
You can read more from our exclusive interview with Rio Ferdinand in the coming days.
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