Rio Ferdinand has revealed he “didn’t agree” with Sir Alex Ferguson’s tactical approach to Manchester United’s defeat to Barcelona in the 2011 Champions League final.
United reached a third Champions League final in just four seasons eight years ago, where they would face the Spanish giants in a rematch of the 2009 showpiece in Rome.
Like two years prior, Barcelona would once again emerge victorious after a 3-1 victory at Wembley, Lionel Messi starring in one of the most dominant Champions League final performances in recent seasons and Ferdinand admits the club got their tactical approach wrong.
“The plan was to really to go and meet them high,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.
“Meet them, press them high and try and win the ball early and then obviously go for the jugular.
“We done that, to be fair, with the goal we scored, but in the main we didn’t have the ball in the midfield area.
“This area is key in big games, you need to dominate that area and then you’ve got a good chance of winning it. And they outnumbered us.”
Ferdinand has revealed he gave his opinion to Ferguson regarding his concern at playing with just two midfielders, as Barcelona’s dominance in the centre and tiki-taka style saw them once again crowned champions of Europe.
“I didn’t agree (with the tactics),” he continued. “I voiced my opinion, but at the same time you’re confident in a man like Sir Alex Ferguson.
“Pressing them is different, it’s gonna be hard. They’d done us in Rome (in the 2009 final), and they’d probably got three in that area – Messi, Xavi and Iniesta – three of probably the top six players in the world in that time.
“So three of the top six players in the world in that area, and they were playing against two players (Carrick and Giggs) in there.”
The former Man United defender believes his side’s best policy would have been to hit Pep Guardiola’s team on the counter-attack, but admits the opportunity did not materialise as Barcelona dominated the contest.
“Me and Nemanja Vidic used to speak a lot about stuff like this, and I just thought we were going to get outnumbered in midfield,” he added.
“We’re used to playing 4-3-3 or 4-5-1, where we’d suck up some pressure and hit teams on the break.
“I thought this team, our forward players, could do this to that Barcelona team and their defenders, but we never gave ourselves the opportunity, it just didn’t materialise like that.”
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