Date: 11th March 2008 at 10:16am
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As you probably know, Rio Ferdinand’s United contract is set to expire at the end of the following season. The 29-year-old claimed that his only desire is to complete the negotiations of an extension as soon as possible as he wants to stay at United for life.

He described the club as the best place where he could be, hailed the fans as brilliant and in general, aired the thoughts of a contented man.

What a marked contrast from three years ago. 2005 also saw Ferdinand negotiating an extension but it turned out to be nasty business. The exact sum that was debated was never given away but red tops hinted that the talks were stalling because of a Ł20,000 pounds difference between the clubs’ offer and Ferdinand’s demands.

United supporters had turned on him back then and he was even confronted by an angry group of them outside his home. Many wanted him out because of his attitude and because they felt he did not deserve to have his demans satisfied on the basis of his performances on the pitch.

Now, we all sincerely hope that there will be no trouble this time, especially with the Wes Brown contract situation still not resolved. The question is, are we prepared to forget what happened three years ago if Rio does indeed commit himself to United for the rest of his career?

I am, for one, ready to do so. His performances improved with age and, significantly, with the arrival of Nemanja Vidic. His laid-back style still irritates many but we can’t change the personality of a man and it seems to me that he’s done his best to cut out the concentration problems of his game. It’s much less rare now that he’s caught unawares by the opponent, his focus increased greatly over the past few years.

It would be easy to blame his agent for the troubles of three years ago: it’s certain that Rio himself also wanted the big money, as big as he could extract from the club. But I’m prepared to say that he’s matured now: on the pitch, certainly, off the pitch, we’ll find out in the next few weeks.