Rio Ferdinand has hailed the amount of leaders Manchester United now have in their team under Erik ten Hag.

Speaking on his Five YouTube channel, Rio said that for years, United have been crying out for more big characters who can drag the team through games.

Now, they have that, thanks to a combination of players Ten Hag has brought in and also ones he is getting much more out of now.

Ferdinand was at the training ground yesterday (Monday), meeting some of the players before training and then interviewing Bruno Fernandes.

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Ferdinand leaders
Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Rio Ferdinand names the seven leaders in the Manchester United team

After that trip to Carrington, he said: “At United now, I’m looking at the team and what have we been crying out for for years? Character, leaders. Not a character, or a leader – you want a number of them.

“You look through the team now, David de Gea, character. I don’t think there have been many more goalkeepers criticised at the top level. Luke Shaw, come back from the dead almost at times under different managers.

“Now he’s a mainstay in this team. Whatever happens, he plays. You’ve got now two centre-halves and Varane and Martinez. Then you’ve got Casemiro.

“I haven’t got to say much about him. Bruno, got the armband. Rashford is leading by example and scoring the goals. Throughout the spine of the team, it looks like there are characters there and you’re starting to see the best of it.”

For much of the season, captain Harry Maguire has not started matches but as Ferdinand says, the side has not been short on leadership.

Plenty has changed since that 4-0 loss at Brentford, and it is telling to see the improvement Ten Hag has managed to inspire from the players he has inherited.

That leadership and character will be vital over two huge games this week, which comprise United’s biggest of the season so far.

First, United host Barcelona on Thursday, in front of what should be a raucous Old Trafford, before the EFL Cup final on Sunday, where Ten Hag will win a trophy at the very first time of asking if we beat Newcastle at Wembley.

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