In a studio tucked neatly away off south London’s quaint Bermondsey Street, Rio Ferdinand is in a buoyant mood as he welcomes Sportsmail through the studio doors for filming of this season’s final episode of his excellent Vibe with Five YouTube show.
A gripping Premier League campaign has not yet been over for 24 hours and, alongside co-hosts Joel Beya and Stephen Howson, Ferdinand is preparing to reflect on a whirlwind day of football that almost saw Manchester City lose their Premier League crown, before firing three goals in five minutes against Aston Villa to claim glory.
Of course, it would have been Ferdinand and Manchester United‘s great rivals Liverpool who capitalised on City’s wobble. Three days out from a trip to Paris to cover Jurgen Klopp’s side in the Champions League final, the United fan in Ferdinand is relieved.
‘They would be giving it to me big time, man. Big time,’ he says, coffee in hand, with a smile and a head shake about seeing Liverpool fans in the French capital. Now, he is starting to feel it might be Real Madrid who are favourites for Saturday’s showdown. But more on that later.
Ferdinand has invited Sportsmail to watch from behind-the-scenes as he films his final show after a thrilling campaign. His pride in his work is infectious as he pores over his notes on the weekend’s action, as is his off-camera rapport with Beya and Howson.
In truth, he must roll into work every Monday with the same joy with which he greets his guests.
Rio Ferdinand invited Sportsmail to watch the filming of his last Vibe with Five YouTube show of the 2021-22 season
Ferdinand presents the hour-long show alongside his co-hosts Joel Beya (left) and Stephen Howson (centre)
Ferdinand’s FIVE YouTube channel has over 800,000 subscribers and garnered over 14million views in the 2021-22 season
The bond between Ferdinand, Howson and Beya is a key part of Vibe with Five’s appeal and their off-camera chat is every bit as enjoyable and informative as the packages that are filmed and broadcast
It’s testament to how tirelessly Ferdinand works that within minutes, filming is underway – but not for Vibe with Five.
Instead, it’s an instalment of a new series on his channel, called Five Formations, where he’ll deliver tactical breakdowns of big games he played in across his career. Today, it’s United’s 2-0 win over Arsenal’s Invincibles in 2004 that snapped their unbeaten streak.
’18 years ago!’ he calls out in disbelief. ’18 years!’
A pitch map is laid out before him and an extra camera looms over his shoulder as he moves the counters around to articulate how it was harder to mark Dennis Bergkamp than Thierry Henry. He also reveals how Gary Neville decided to try and kick Jose Antonio Reyes out of the game, and that Ferguson told the United side how they could get in Arsenal’s heads as he fired them up pre-match. It’s enthralling viewing, packed with insight.
And it’s also funny. He pokes fun at himself for avoiding a red card for a ‘tactical foul’ on Freddie Ljungberg and for eventually admitting Wayne Rooney dived for the penalty Ruud van Nistelrooy scored, despite his ferocious appeals on the day itself.
‘This is going to be so good next season,’ Beya beams, brimming with excitement. ‘We are going to do so much more of this sort of thing, and it’s going to be out there right away for people.’
Beya then offers up the notes that the three of them have been scrutinising before Vibe with Five gets underway. It’s 16 pages, covered in everything from prompts, manager quotes, stats, Twitter reaction, and key moments and questions to put to Ferdinand during the show.
The booklet is jam-packed with ideas, so much so that Ferdinand, Beya and Howson could have filmed another hour-long show addressing the talking points they had to pass over for the show that eventually went out.
The Vibe with Five studios are busy and bustling on a Monday morning. A tech board sits behind the cameras with editors packaging up clips as they’re filmed. In the next room, people are designing the graphics that accompany the Vibe with Five package.
Ferdinand’s tech wizzes can cut and package footage as it’s filmed – the studio is busy and bustling on a Monday morning
Ferdinand cut a number of packages while Sportsmail was present, including a Champions League final preview
Ferdinand and his crew had a 16-page booklet of notes to crunch before filming of Vibe with Five got underway
As soon as filming for Five Formations is up, Ferdinand swiftly rolls into a preview clip for the Champions League final before attention turns to the main event. It’s fast and focused, but a slick operation.
‘Have you guys seen what SpecSavers have said to Carragher on Twitter?!’ Ferdinand calls out, looking at his phone in surprise. ‘Carra and Liam Gallagher were going at it, Carra says ‘you’ll never win the Champions league & Oasis are s***e compared to the Beatles’… and then SpecSavers have said ‘Calm down, you’ve both got the same number of Premier League medals”.
‘SpecSavers keep getting involved lately,’ replies Howson with a chuckle. The studio is a vibrant place to be, with the football chat bouncing away in exactly the same style millions of fans talk about the game every day. But you truly gauge the authenticity of Vibe with Five by how the trio engage between the cameras recording.
While tech guys potter around making final adjustments to camera positions and check the sound is on point, Ferdinand ponders aloud how Liverpool’s midfield could look for the Champions League final.
The show centered heavily on Erik ten Hag’s first Manchester United press conference, as well as Manchester City pipping Liverpool to the Premier League title
Can Klopp really pick two players who aren’t 100 per cent fit in Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara? And what about Mohamed Salah, he asks. Is he fit enough to put Real to the sword? How did we think he looked when he came on against Wolves?
When it’s suggested the Egyptian wasn’t at his sharpest, Ferdinand looks surprised but with a knowing smile, dismisses the idea anyone can write Salah off just yet.
‘And then you’ve got Luis Diaz. What a player he is,’ he says, shaking his head in approval. Just as he’s about to expand on that thought, the call comes for filming to start but with one late change to the plan.
Erik ten Hag has given his first press conference since officially taking over at United but with Ferdinand hard at work all morning, he hasn’t yet had a moment to delve into the Dutchman’s words.
‘We obviously need this in the show,’ his manager says. ‘Have you guys seen the quotes? I’ll stick them in our WhatsApp chat.’
After an amusing delay where Ferdinand can’t get signal in the studio to receive the message, he finally runs over what Ten Hag’s had to say. The coach’s assessment that ‘good is not good enough’ for United impresses him, and Ferdinand makes a note to draw attention to it in the show itself.
He has one last request – to sort a Nando’s delivery for for his team for after filming – and then a hush falls over the room as the cameras start recording.
Ferdinand is, understandably, the star of Vibe with Five but his setup with Howson and Beya is every inch an ensemble. Beya steers the show excellently, dovetailing between his role as the host who raises the conversation points to the football expert and Arsenal fan offering his own opinions.
Howson sits central and Ferdinand to the other side. A United fan, Howson and Ferdinand riff off each other brilliantly when it comes to the travails of the Red Devils, who rounded off the season with a 1-0 defeat by Crystal Palace.
‘It was s***!’ Howson seethes, before a resigned laughter. As Ferdinand casts a look of disdain towards the floor at the state of his old side, you can’t help but feel Howson says exactly what Ferdinand feels about matters at Old Trafford.
‘Who would you take (in the transfer window), Mr Man United?’ Ferdinand asks him, prompting a five minute segment that is the talk of Twitter over the following days, where they discuss Max Aarons as a potential United target.
It’s those little moments that produce Vibe with Five’s finest parts. There was nothing in the pre-show notes to plan what were the most intriguing moments of the show – United and Aarons, Ferdinand saying Erling Haaland will need up to a year to bed in at City and his call to authorities to do more to halt pitch invasions.