Ferdinand’s Arteta guff shows again how hard Man United legends find their new reality

Dave Tickner
Rio Ferdinand on Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta
Rio Ferdinand thinks Mikel Arteta would leave the Emirates for Man Utd.

“Arteta would leave Arsenal to go to Man United, 100 per cent. He would!”

It’s one of the quotes of the season. We’re huge fans. Branded hats off to Rio Ferdinand and his latest Vibe with FIVE YouTube nonsense.

We’re sure you’ve already seen, laughed at and forgotten Ferdinand’s frankly absurd claim, but we’re not finished.

Now there’s a very real danger that we’re about to – or already have – given them far more thought and attention than they merit. But we’ve never let that stop us before and we’re not about to do so now.

Ferdinand is not a stupid man, but nor is he one of the game’s great modern thinkers. This is shown in his often frustratingly shallow and paint-by-numbers punditry. And we say frustratingly here precisely because we’re absolutely 100 per cent (ahem) certain he has more to offer.

But it’s dialled up to 11 on his own YouTube show where there is even less chance of someone telling him not to be silly. He’s also, as noted, not a stupid man and he knows that saying outlandish things on his YouTube channel, whose name makes it sound like something buried deep in the Channel 5 schedule, will draw attention to said YouTube channel and ultimately that is the name of the game. Saying outlandish things about Manchester United obviously comes naturally, but if you can also throw in saying outlandish things about Arsenal at the same time, then it’s a double victory for silliness.

How else is he supposed to get those numbers up? Coherent, thoughtful, entertaining and informative analysis? No, with sh*tposting. That’s the easy win here.

So on one level we’re quite certain Rio Ferdinand does not actually for a single second believe that Mikel Arteta would “100 per cent” leave Arsenal to become Manchester United manager.

READ: Manchester United should learn from Arsenal and Arteta if they really want Antony ‘value’

Because how could anyone “100 per cent” think that? Unless Mikel Arteta has said directly to you “Guess what, I would 100 per cent leave this great job I have with a squad I’ve moulded and that’s going really, really well and might very well get even better to become manager of a fruitcake basket case club where nobody has managed to succeed for over a decade because the greatest manager of all time has ruined them for everyone else” and, after slapping him firmly across the face, you tell the internet this thing, then it is essentially unknowable.

But short of such horse’s mouth confirmation we can – again, giving far more time and attention than these throwaway comments warrant – weigh up the probability in our own minds and most of us would come up with something close to 0 per cent.

As ever with such a thing, you’re looking at push and pull factors. What are the things that might push Arteta from his current, lucrative and prestigious job at a club where he has history, and what are the things that might pull him to Manchester United, a nutbar club that lurches from crisis to crisis and whose fans are so desperate for something to cling to they’re currently in the process of trying to convince themselves they’ve hitched their wagon to the world’s only non-problematic billionaire.

Hmm. Pretty tricky to find anything to go in either column, isn’t it? There are no push factors for Arteta at all. It’s very obviously going to take something extraordinary to pull him away from Arsenal any time soon. It’s going to take a club with obvious pull factors.

You wouldn’t say 100 per cent, because that is clearly deranged, but it’s far easier to imagine Arteta would, if offered, take the Manchester City job. Pull factors, you see. Worked there before. The chance to follow directly in his mentor’s footsteps. The one squad in the Barclays with more going for it than Arsenal’s right now. An even greater likelihood of winning stuff. It’s not absurd, is what we’re saying.

Even, say, Barcelona – who appear in danger of going a little bit Manchester United and living primarily off the name – has a few things that might pull Arteta towards them. Even PSG – the basket case’s basket case – have the ‘former club’ stuff going on.

Manchester United simply does not have anything to entice someone from another similarly high-profile job at a less absurd club with a vastly superior current squad.

All it has is a name. As pundits will tell you in exasperation after every latest disgrace: This is Manchester United Football Club we’re talking about.

And that’s really where Ferdinand’s comments are interesting. Yes, it’s clickbait, and yes it’s no accident that he’s picked Arsenal for this. We like Arsenal fans, but they can be a little bit… Arsenal. Even the relentlessly tiresome, joyless and overwhelmingly bad-faith Celebration Police sh*t exists because Arsenal fans will always take the bait, and that is “100 per cent” guaranteed.

But he wouldn’t do it with Manchester United on the other side of the equation, despite them being an even bigger draw than Arsenal and currently boasting far more of those push factors for most.

Even if this is almost entirely clickbait nonsense from a man with more self-branded baseball caps than is necessary, at some level there is still the very enjoyable phenomenon of Fergie Era Reds finding it impossible to fully and truly accept quite how much the world has changed in the post-Ferguson wilderness years.

You see it in punditry all the time, not just with Ferdinand but with Paul Scholes and Roy Keane and occasionally even Gary Neville, despite his propensity for scathing assessments of their fall from grace.

They’re not just angry and disappointed when Manchester United sh*t another bed, they’re genuinely bewildered and bamboozled by it all. Their sense of what Manchester United should be cannot comprehend what Manchester United now are and it short-circuits their brain.

You see this whenever a former Manchester United player says they should have “just signed Harry Kane”. Or whenever a former Manchester United player can’t understand why a Premier League team hasn’t arrived at Old Trafford quaking in fear and already beaten before ‘This Is The One’ has finished. Or whenever a former Manchester United player asserts that a rival manager would ‘100 per cent’ leave a club competing for the title to join one that might sneak a Europa Conference spot if Brighton remain inconsistent.

They’ve all been Fergie-pilled to believe Manchester United is something it no longer is, and hasn’t been for quite some time. It’s a huge part of why they were so successful, of course. That this bravura ‘we’re Manchester United’ attitude persists even to this day in the face of so many years of evidence is testament to the power of the grumpy old genius and what he did here.

But it does now make them all sound just a tiny bit crazy.

READ NOW: Erik Ten Hag eats food just days after Man Utd defeat as Arsenal are now plucky underdogs