There has been a huge social media challenge recently to the validity of Rio Ferdinand’s loyalty to the Hammers.
Not only has he, along with his brother Anton, thrown his weight behind the takeover group but he has now voiced an opinion on our captain, Declan Rice’s future, suggesting that Declan should join Manchester United. But was he misquoted?
The Ferdinand brothers backing of the PAI takeover bid is also questionable but where does Rio’s loyalties really lie. Let’s take a look.
Rio spent the first five years of his career at the Hammers amassing a total of 127 appearances in a West Ham shirt before moving to Leeds for a then record fee of £18 million.
I remember being devastated when the transfer was announced, ironically Rio’s final game for the Hammers was against Leeds at Elland Road.
For some reason I couldn’t get an away ticket and so found myself amongst the Leeds fans sitting on my hands as West Ham recorded a deserved 1-0 win with a goal from Nigel Winterburn.
Just a few days later Rio was gone much to our dismay. The signing of Rigobert Song and Titi Camara from Liverpool was small compensation and as the West Stand was demolished to be replaced by the Dr Martens stand, many of us renamed that new stand Rio as we felt that a huge amount of that Rio money was spent not on the squad but on the ground itself.
Rio’s time at Leeds was short and with the financial collapse of the Yorkshire club, he found his way across the M62 and to Old Trafford where he had his most successful spell as a football player.
During his time at Manchester United, Rio won a total of six league titles, a Champions League plus numerous other awards including that of being an England regular.
As for the club that brought him through the youth ranks, success was not forthcoming.
Relegation happened just two years after his transfer and a fire sale was conducted. This was followed by a further relegation in 2011.
This was during a time when Rio was at one of the biggest clubs in the world and was regarded as one of the finest defenders in the world.
As for West Ham, the club was seen as a selling club who sold on their biggest home grown talent for a quick buck.
Just a look at the England team around this time bore fruit to that fact. Along with Rio, Frank Lampard Jnr, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and Glen Johnson were all England squad regulars.
It seemed that if you wanted to be a success the only way was to move to a so-called big club. This included being an England international. But have times changed?
So what has Rio said to earn the wrath of some West Ham supporters? The statement followed a Manchester United game and was as follows: ‘I think Declan Rice would be a massive addition to this squad. I would love to see him keep progressing the way that he is at the moment.
‘He was brilliant for England in the summer. I think if West Ham keep him they’ve done unbelievably well to keep him for another season. I think he does well staying at West Ham, he does well going to another club, he does well both ways.”
So did he really state that Declan should move? I think not. What he was saying, in my opinion, was that Declan could be a success anywhere he plays.
Would Declan be a great addition to the Manchester United team, absolutely, so that’s very much a fact.
If we keep Rice will West Ham have done very well? Absolutely.
Will Declan be a success wherever he goes? Well, it seems that way. So it looks like Rio was stating the obvious.
But what about his loyalties? Well, Rio spent 16 years at Manchester United compared to just half that amount at West Ham.
You cannot play all those years for a team without having a certain amount of loyalty to the club that you represented for all that time.
It also has to be remembered that Rio comes from a different era where a player simply had to move to one of the big six to progress.
A look now at the England squad shows that is not the case. Rio’s comments could simply be a case of what needed to happen when he was an up-and-coming football player rather than today’s reality.
It’s my conclusion on this particular case that Rio has been misquoted and it’s pretty much a non-story that adds fuel to the real story of his involvement in the PAI takeover bid.
Now that is the real story here but as for the criticism regarding his comments on Declan Rice, I believe it’s simply a case of the media making a mountain out of a molehill, a non story.
It’s a case of lazy journalism, a column inches filler and has no relevance on Rio’s loyalty to the club that gave him his first break.