Rio Ferdinand broke the habit of a lifetime on Tuesday night and heaped praise on Manchester City’s fans ahead of their Champions League clash with Real Madrid.
Providing analysis on BT Sport, the former Manchester United defender said: “When we came to the stadium this evening, they [the Man City supporters] know it’s business time. There are lots of fans here, flags all over the place, loads of Real Madrid fans here as well so I’m looking forward to it.”
While Ferdinand didn’t go over the top with his comment, his words are a far cry from his usual stance on how well supported the Manchester club is. Back in 2014, when the former defender was still a player with QPR, he couldn’t help but poke fun at City’s fans during their Champions League clash with Roma.
“How many empty seats are there at the City vs Roma game by the way,” tweeted Ferdinand. “Big Champions League game and fans would rather watch Ramsay’s Kitchen or something at home.”
His comment drew criticism from a number of Citizens supporters, including Andy Savage, who runs the MCFC Forum.
Savage responded at the time: “Rio is living in his own bubble there. Some people are living hand to mouth and don’t know where the next penny is coming from, and he’s criticising them for not filling the stadium when the tickets are £35-plus.
“He was an absolute disgrace on Twitter, as was Scholes on ITV. They are multi-millionaires. They don’t give the man on the street a second thought, how much it is costing people.
“The cost of living is going up, so many people are out of work. Football is not everyone’s priority like it used to be. People just can’t afford, over the course of the month, to pay for tickets three, four or five times.
“I took Ferdinand to task, and not because he is an ex-United player. He’s got an autobiography coming out. I’m sure he’s not giving that away. I’m sure he’s not joined QPR for the love of it. He’ll be getting a substantial salary.”
Just this month Ferdinand also had something to say about the City fans ahead of their clash with Atletico Madrid.
In response to BT Sport host Jake Humphrey commenting on the atmosphere: “People seem to enjoy being critical of the crowd here at the Etihad. You turn around and look at that, that’s impressive,” Ferdinand responded: “What is? It’s been good, it’s been noisy… for the last two minutes.”