Solskjaer's last miracle is revitalising Alexis Sanchez, says Rio Ferdinand

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The legendary defender hopes that the Chile international forward comes good under the new Man Utd boss after a stuttering start under the Norwegian

Rio Ferdinand believes the next big challenge facing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United is getting Alexis Sanchez back to his best.

Sanchez is the best-paid player in the Premier League after joining the Red Devils on a lucrative contract in January 2018 as part of a swap deal which saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan head to Arsenal.

However, the Chile international winger has been unable to replicate the form he displayed at Arsenal and has been the only big-name player not to impress since Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho as United manager in December.

Solskjaer has now been handed the role on a permanent basis and, as United battle for a top-four Premier League finish and prepare to face Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals, Ferdinand feels his former team-mate’s next test is to get Sanchez firing again.

"He will be aiming to get the best out of Sanchez," Ferdinand told Goal. "Ole has gotten the best out of every other player in the squad since he has come. One of them is not going to do it. At the moment, Sanchez isn't playing at the level that we have seen him play at Arsenal.

"He will want to get back to that for personal pride. Ole and his coaching staff will be aiming to get him back into that rhythm and producing that quality he had at Arsenal consistently at United.”

Ferdinand added: "Since Ole has come you would say [Marcus] Rashford, [Paul] Pogba and [Victor] Lindelof have been the most improved. Those three have been standouts for me. David de Gea is the best keeper in the league by a mile.”

The former United defender also believes that Solskjaer has proven his credentials as manager after winning 15 of his 20 games in charge in all competitions since his appointment on an initial interim basis, a run which included a stunning comeback to knock Paris Saint-Germain out of the Champions League.

"My opinion hasn't changed,” said Ferdinand. “If you said to the owners when Ole took over that, fast-forward to now, United would be fighting for fourth place and be in the Champions League they would have bitten your arm off.

"So, I think that Man United's players are mentally in a much better space. It is up to Ole to keep driving that and keep improving with that.

"I think the result they got in Paris is a springboard for this team because everything was against them. Ten players out injured and suspended.

"We went there and beat a team that was fancied by many people to win it. That will do them a world of good so they won't go into this game [with Barcelona] with fear I don't think."

Rio Ferdinand quote GFX

Ferdinand was undoubtedly one of the best defenders ever to wear the Manchester United shirt, winning 10 major honours and making 455 appearances for the club.

Now retired, the 40-year-old is aiming to make a cultural impact, while continuing his work as a pundit on BT Sport in the UK. Ferdinand has launched fashion brands, magazines and worked in the music industry, but film-making is his latest foray into the art world.

His latest project is to work as an executive producer on the film 90 Minutes, which comes a decade on from his film-making debut with Dead Man Running. 90 Minutes is a comedy drama centred around amateur football and is predominantly set on the Hackney Marshes pitches that Ferdinand played on as a youngster.

Flexing his artistic muscles is nothing new for Ferdinand, who did ballet as a youngster as he aimed to make it in professional football. He says that footballers shouldn't be pigeonholed into being coaches upon leaving the game, but adds that his love of amateur football inspired him to work on the new cinema release.

"Whether you have made it to the top of football or you haven't, at some point you have played in Sunday football," he continued. "For people to get up on a Sunday, not getting paid to do it, but because it is something that they love it is a great thing. That's the beauty of it.

"That's what was good about doing the walk-on cameo in Hackney Marshes where I played as a kid a few times. You just see everyone out there playing for the love of the game. All shapes and sizes, all ages. Half-time cigarette, they love it.

"[I remember being] cold. Getting changed on the sidelines and being cold. Mud everywhere. Half-time oranges chopped up. Just having fun, I enjoyed it. Some of my best memories and most vivid memories are of playing Sunday football as a kid. So, I love it.

"The film is not necessarily around the 90 minutes of the game but everything that shoots off around that. His friends, the different characters and the different goings-on around football.

"It is funny, it is light-hearted, it is a low-budget film. I think it has turned out well. I have never wanted to be pigeonholed or put in a box and be told that's what you are. That's what you will stay as. I think I have always had that since I was a kid.

.Rio Ferdinand

"That's why I have done gymnastics or ballet. I have always been interested in doing lots of different things. So, as I have grown older and got my football right and I was playing consistently, playing well, winning things, I was able to branch out.

"I allowed myself to think about things outside and think what's going on outside and business wise. When I was 27 or 28, I started to feel confident enough so that I could look outside of just being a footballer and get involved in a different business.

"I never wanted to do it and allow people the excuse to say 'oh, he has taken his eye off the ball'. As long as I kept doing well football-wise then no one could say anything negative towards me, because I am getting my football right.

"So, I have a restaurant, clothing range, foundation, movies, documentaries and doing any content. Video content especially. All sorts of forms; long, short and medium. I love all that, and in the digital age, there's so much, and it moves so fast."

90 Minutes will be available on DVD & digital download from 1 April

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