Rio: Fergie spot on with youth injection
Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has backed Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to replace experience with youth this summer, saying the arrivals of David De Gea, Ashley Young and Phil Jones are "just what the club needs".
United veterans Edwin van der Sar, Paul Scholes, Wes Brown and John O'Shea have all left Old Trafford since Ferguson guided his side to a record 19th league title in May, leaving some people questioning whether the Scot should invest in some well-established replacements.
But the wily Scot, who has built several generations of United teams during his 25-year tenure at the club, has instead chosen to bring young players to the club thus far - a tactic that has certainly worked well for him before.
Ferguson spent around £50 million on capturing De Gea, Jones and Young, and 33-year-old Ferdinand believes the trio will prove to be outstanding acquisitions for United.
"It is just what the club needs,'' Ferdinand said. "Three of our most experienced players have retired [Gary Neville also hung up his boots back in February], so the manager has reinforced certain positions on the field.
"This club is always evolving. That is what has happened since I have been here. I was part of it. It is about the club becoming better and more stable and continuing the success we have had over the years.''
"It is great to see young players. We have some very young players coming through the youth team already, so when the manager adds players of quality like Phil Jones, Ashley Young and David De Gea, it can only improve the squad, increase our longevity and continue our success.''
Ferdinand, now one of the elder statesmen of the United squad, will undoubtedly face pressure from the likes of Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans next season, as the young pretenders aim to usurp the England international as Nemanja Vidic's centre-back partner.
United are currently on their pre-season tour of the USA and play their first game against the New England Revolution at the Gillette Stadium on Wednesday.
New signings Jones and De Gea are still missing, though, as they - along with Smalling and Tom Cleverley - are given an extended break to recover from June's European Under-21 Championship.
De Gea will fly straight to New York for the final two matches of the trip, although they are the most significant, against an MLS All-Stars team containing David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan in New Jersey, and Barcelona, minus Lionel Messi, in Washington on July 30.