After an assured comeback from injury in last week's first-leg win over UEFA Champions League quarter-final opponents Chelsea FC, Rio Ferdinand believes Manchester United FC "are in a good position to go through" at the expense of their Premier League rivals.
Sidelined since 1 February with a calf problem, Ferdinand returned to give what manager Sir Alex Ferguson described as "one of his best performances in a United shirt" in the 1-0 success at Stamford Bridge – a result that hands the Red Devils a vital edge ahead of Tuesday's return match at Old Trafford.
"We couldn't get him back quick enough," said Ferguson at Monday's press conference. "Having the two of them available [Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidić] is a great boost at this time of the season. I was desperate to have him back because of what he gives us: composure, talking, not panicking and handling everything that's thrown at him."
Should he take the field against Carlo Ancelotti's charges, it would be only the 32-year-old's fifth UEFA Champions League appearance of the campaign. Yet the centre-back insists his lengthy absence at no stage dented his self-belief. "You've got to have confidence in your own ability. I deemed myself fit to play, so I needed to believe in myself and have the people around me to help get where I needed to be and I've had that.
"In some ways this is like a fresh start [to the season]," the England defender went on, "but I had played about 20 games before that [injury]. You know at this club that at some point you'll get a chance to come in and prove yourself to the manager. We all know the club inside out and know our roles, so injuries don't change that. Your eye's always in as you watch some training sessions and you watch all the matches, so you know what's going on."
Finally, as part of the United side that won the Premier League and UEFA Champions League in 2007/08, does Ferdinand feel the current English top-flight leaders can achieve a similar feat this term? "We're not motivated by thoughts of doubles or trebles. Our motivation is that we want to win every competition we enter, and if that adds up to a double or treble then so be it."
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