The Sweeper: Could Rio Ferdinand make a romantic return to West Ham United when he parts company with Manchester United? also reveals that Steve Nicol has rejected an MLS job opportunity, how David Cameron stayed away from the Tottenham boardroom and why QPR's players are so chilled out

Should Rio Ferdinand and Manchester United decide to part ways at the end of the season with a year still to run on his contract, the defender will not be short of options.

There has been talk of mega-rich moves to the United States or the Middle East but one intriguing possibility is a romantic return to West Ham.

Ferdinand still retains a great affection for the club that he joined as a 14-year-old and spent eight years at before his £18 million move to Leeds United in 2000.

He rents a private box at Upton Park and is a regular visitor to his former club when he is in London. The centre-half also has a good relationship with West Ham co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold and has spoken to friends about the possibility of one day returning to the club that nurtured him.

A move to West Ham next summer would be dependent not only on Ferdinand falling further down the pecking order at Old Trafford but also the East Londoners returning to the Premier League at the first attempt.

Sam Allardyce’s team are second in the Championship and are strong favourites for a swift return to the top tier. West Ham are the biggest payers in the division but do not have a money-is-no-object budget. They expressed an interest in signing Carlos Tevez on loan last month but were only willing to pay £50,000-a-week towards the Argentine’s wages.

A Premier League return would put them in a better position to meet Ferdinand’s wage demands should Sir Alex Ferguson indicate his first-team chances will be limited next season.

Sources close to Ferdinand say he would take that as a cue to consider his future away from Old Trafford, even though his deal runs until 2013.

Ferguson recently admitted that Ferdinand is no longer a first-choice in his central defence, while England manager Fabio Capello has omitted the 33-year-old from his last three squads.

Although Ferdinand has started United’s last four matches, his longest consecutive run in 2011, the emergence of Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones has put his United future under greater scrutiny than at any other point during his nine years at the club.


Steve Nicol's decade-long tenure at New England Revolution came to an end last month after the MLS club failed to make the end-of-season play-offs for a second consecutive year.

But the former Liverpool player has rejected the opportunity to be interviewed for the newly vacant post of head coach at Colorado Rapids, who recently parted company with Englishman Gary Smith 12 months after he won the MLS Cup.

The Sweeper understands that Nicol was put off by rumours that Rapids directors interfered in player recruitment and that Smith had been ousted because he was unwilling to be told who he could sign by technical director Paul Bravo.

Intriguingly, Smith’s No.2 Steve Guppy, the former England winger, has packed his bags and returned to England after failing to receive a single phone call of explanation from the club as to why his contract would not be renewed.


David Cameron was a high-profile visitor to White Hart Lane for Tottenham’s comfortable 2-0 win over Aston Villa, the team the Prime Minister supports, on Monday.

But expectations that Cameron might pop into the White Hart Lane boardroom for a chat about the Tottenham riots or public funding for the stadium redevelopment proved to be unfounded.

The Sweeper has been told that the Prime Minister and his entourage arrived late to the match, stayed in the top tier of the West Stand and left the stadium without breaking bread with senior Spurs officials.


QPR owner Tony Fernandes has put his money where his mouth is during his three-month reign. But the latest example of his commitment to improvement might not necessarily be one welcomed by the players.

A demountable ice bath, housed in a cabin the size of a mobile toilet and used to aid fast recovery of over-worked muscles after exercise, is the newest addition at the Harlington training ground.

Yet it is a luxurious facility compared to the home-made ice baths Rangers used in pre-season. During the final days of the penny-pinching Briatore-Ecclestone regime, household dustbins were loaded with ice and up to three players at a time would stand nose-to-nose in their underpants while shivering their way to recovery.

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