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Rio Ferdinand highlights three ‘crazy’ Man United stars who can defeat City in FA Cup final

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It speaks volumes about the different directions Manchester United and Manchester City have taken that Rio Ferdinand – a relic of happier times at Old Trafford – is ‘begging’ for a surprise later this month in that FA Cup final re-match.

If Erik ten Hag‘s side were underdogs against Pep Guardiola’s fleet of superstars in 2023 – when the Red Devils had finished third in the Premier League – then they certainly are now. Eighth in the table and a lot worse of, both in terms of form and fitness, than 12 months previously.

By Ferdinand’s own admission, the legendary centre-back is resting more on hope than expectation.

But, he says, as long as Manchester United can call upon a handful of players capable of winning a game on their own or turning the narrative on it’s head with a moment of rabbit-out-of-the-hat magic, then the result is not a foregone conclusion.

Bruno Fernandes, statistically the best chance creator in England’s top flight, will always carve out opportunities. Alejandro Garnacho‘s Pukas-baiting overhead kick in that 3-0 win at Everton should warn the Man City defenders against switching off even for a second, and even when those crosses into the box are a little misplaced.

As for Marcus Rashford, this might not have been the Carrington graduate’s best season. But as he showed during Man United’s most recent derby meeting with City – lashing a fierce strike into the top corner from long range – Rashford can produce something a little ‘crazy’ too even during tough times.

Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford of Manchester United celebrate Rasmus Hojlund's third goal during the Premier League match between Manchester U...

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Manchester United face Man City again in FA Cup final

“I think you have always got a chance. You have got a puncher’s chances, so to speak, always in a final,” Ferdinand tells talkSPORT (17 May). “The FA Cup is built on surprises.

“I think Manchester City are way above Manchester United in this present moment in time.

“And I am probably starting to feel more hopeful than anything else that Man United come out of the blocks and we get some sort of crazy performance in a moment in the game from a Bruno, a Garnacho, maybe a Rashford, who can actually turn a game on its head at any given time.”

Man United did beat Man City in January 2023, at the highpoint of the Ten Hag reign. Fernandes and Rashford both scored that day, with Garnacho setting up the latter’s dramatic late winner.

The Red Devils have often saved their best football for domestic knock-out games under the former Ajax boss, meanwhile, with their May 25th meeting with City the third final United have reached since hiring Ten Hag two years ago.

  • READ MORE: Who is Bruno Fernandes? Inside the life of Manchester United’s Portuguese Magnifico

Can Erik ten Hag triumph at Wembley again?

“Listen, in the last few years we have seen moments where Man United have stuck it on Manchester City at times and produced a moment in game,” Ferdinand adds. “They have got to do that and then hold out I think. But we will see.

“My heart says yes hopefully we will (win it) and begging. But my head says Manchester City will probably run out winners.”

City, it has been confirmed, will be without injured goalkeeper Ederson at the national stadium next weekend.

  • READ MORE: FA Cup Final 2024: Date, Kick-Off Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, Tickets & More

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