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Oct 22, 2012

Ferguson: No rift with Rio

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson claims a 'communication problem' led to his bust up with Rio Ferdinand after the defender refused to wear a Kick It Out t-shirt on Saturday.

Sir Alex Ferguson says he has resolved his "communication problem" with Rio Ferdinand but will rest the defender for Tuesday's Champions League clash with Braga.

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Ferdinand refused to wear a T-shirt promoting the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign before Saturday's 4-2 win over Stoke, which Ferguson branded "disappointing" and "embarrassing".

But the Manchester United manager, who said on Friday that all his players would don the T-shirt, has held clear-the-air talks with the centre-back, with Ferguson even admitting that he could now understand Ferdinand's decision.

"I have listened to the conviction of Rio and I think it is quite compelling. I can understand his stance," Ferguson said.

The United boss insisted there will be no lasting damage to their relationship as he hinted that Ferdinand, who is out of contract at the end of the season, could get a new deal to keep him at Old Trafford for a 12th year.

Ferguson said: "The issue is pretty simple. I spoke to Rio. I think there was a communication problem. I think he felt I should have spoken to him on Friday. I didn't anticipate there would be any problem in the dressing room as far as the T-shirt was concerned.

"My advice to him is that I always think the union is stronger than any individual and it is important he airs his grievances to the right people, through the PFA or the FA. It has been a communication problem rather than anything else. Obviously as the manager of the club when you lay down policy you don't want to see it being ignored and that's where my anger came on Saturday. We have resolved the problem and that is the end of the matter."

Ferdinand and Patrice Evra will be rested for the match against Braga, who are third in the group and the Portuguese league, as United prepare for Sunday's Premier League trip to Stamford Bridge.

"There will be two main changes," Ferguson said. "We have a game on Sunday at Chelsea, I think that's a big one for us, and we will leave two of the older players out, Rio and Patrice Evra."

Ferdinand's current deal expires in 2013 but Ferguson believes he could have a future at Old Trafford. Veterans like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes have been given one-year contract extensions and the United manager hinted that the defender could receive a similar offer.

"We have always adopted that policy of offering one-year contracts," he said, "and also at 33, I think Rio can play for two or three years. He is not as quick as he was but that is not a big issue for me. His experience is important and there is no reason he can't stay on for another year. I didn't even realise his contract was up."

Meanwhile UEFA will ask all club captains to wear a 'United Against Racism' armband during this week's Champions League fixtures as part of a week of action by European anti-discrimination body FARE.

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