Rio Ferdinand does not believe that Manchester United head into the new season lacking experience.
The retirements of Edwin van der Sar and Paul Scholes, following on from Gary Neville’s decision to hang up his boots midway through last term, means that United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has lost three of his most senior figures within the space of six months.
In addition, Owen Hargreaves has been released while Wes Brown and John O’Shea have left for Sunderland.
With Ryan Giggs enduring so much personal turmoil, there have been some who wonder whether United have enough experience to retain their Premier League crown.
The arrivals of David De Gea and Phil Jones might promise much but at 20 and 19 respectively, they have a lot of learning to do.
However, Ferdinand is adamant there are enough old heads in the United dressing room to cope with whatever is thrown at them over the course of the next nine months.
“I don’t agree we lack experience,” the England defender said at Niketown in Seattle and the launch of United’s new black and blue away kit. “We have other players who can step into those holes.
“You have people like myself, Vida (Nemanja Vidic), Park Ji-sung, Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher, Wayne Rooney. I could go on.
“Players who have been here for five or six years and, in that period, played in top games consistently.
“That counts for a lot of experience and nous about what it takes to win the league.”
Not that it appears Fletcher will be around for the Premier League season opener at West Brom on August 14.
United are yet to confirm reports that the Scotland skipper has suffered a setback in his recovery from a virus and that, instead of just missing out on a touring spot, as was suggested when the party was announced seven days ago, has yet to return to training.
If that proves to be the case, it would place even more emphasis on Ferguson’s search for a midfielder to replace Paul Scholes.
For the moment, United’s bid to sign Wesley Sneijder is on the backburner, although if he had his way, Ferdinand would still count Scholes as a team-mate.
“I have always said it, Paul Scholes is my favourite player,” said Ferdinand. “He is one of the top two players I have ever played with and I thought he could have gone on for a couple more years.
“But it is his decision to stop and you have to respect that.”
Because of Scholes’ quality, Ferdinand believes it is pointless trying to find someone of a similar stature.
Instead, the 32-year-old believes United may have to tweak their playing style, and the man to assume Scholes’ role may already be within their midst.
“When people like Roy Keane and Ruud van Nistelrooy left, we didn’t go like-for-like in replacements,” he said. “We got different players who had a great impact. We have players in the squad already who have the potential to do that.
“Anderson has had a lot of injuries over the last couple of years and missed a couple of pre-seasons. Hopefully this time he will have a good pre-season and we will see the best of him.”