LONDON • Rio Ferdinand has written off Manchester United's title chances this season and is worried about the club's ability to attract the best young English players.
The former centre-back is one of 22 senior players to have left Old Trafford since Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013. The overhaul is part of a drastic restructuring process started by Ferguson's successor David Moyes and accelerated by current manager Louis van Gaal.
Van Gaal has spent over £250 million (S$544.8 million) on new players. But with United in transition, Ferdinand, 36, worries that the club are no longer a draw.
"I'm thinking trophies. Where am I going to go?" said Ferdinand, who attracted interest from Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Roma before joining United from Leeds United in 2002. "If I'm looking at it now and all those clubs come in for me now, I'm thinking, 'Who's got a better chance of giving me a trophy. Is it Man United?'
"Would you sit there and say, 'Man United have got the best chance of winning me silverware as a player?' That's the question you've got to ask yourself. I don't think Man United are going to win the league this year.
"You look at young players, (Everton's) John Stones for example... When you go in for a player like that, you've got to start selling them the dream."
Ferdinand spent 12 years at United, winning six Premier League titles, three League Cups and the 2008 Champions League. But despite having left only a year ago, he barely recognises the club now.
In addition to changes in personnel and transfer policy, United are also a different prospect on the pitch. Gone is the devil-may-care attacking. In its place, van Gaal has introduced a patient, probing style. It has prompted reports of training-ground dissent, and Ferdinand said: "The philosophy is completely different. Man United supporters now have to go away and re-educate themselves on how to watch Man United."