slightly better in 2010/11, starting half of United's 38 league fixtures as the Reds marched towards a record-breaking 19th title.
There was further improvement in 2011/12, when Ferdinand was a near ever-present in the back four. Although the campaign yielded no major trophies, the centre-back made 38 appearances and his invaluable experience helped United take the title fight down to the final day.
Predictably, cynics outside Old Trafford dismissed the veteran after he was omitted from England's Euro 2012 squad, but in hindsight they could not have been more wrong following yet another classy campaign in which the title was reclaimed from Manchester City in 2012/13.
Notably, Ferdinand's form warranted a place in the PFA Team of the Year and, after five years without scoring, he even managed to net the winner in Sir Alex's final home match as manager against Swansea. "Winning can't get boring," Rio had said. "It's always sweet when you win the title and it was nice to do it at Old Trafford and in the right way: in style."
Rio signed a one-year contract extension but in May 2014 he decided to bring down the curtain on his stay in Manchester. Ferdinand will be remembered at Old Trafford as a giant of modern football and is widely regarded as one of the finest defenders in the club's history and, indeed, in the English game.
"I joined United in the hope of winning trophies, and never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined how successful we would be during my time here," Rio said. "Circumstances didn't allow for me to say goodbye the way I would have liked, but I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my teammates, the staff, the club and the fans for an unbelievable 12 years that I will never forget."