“I didn’t see the point in doing it. The rate of success on appeals on these type of disciplinary panels is almost zero. I didn’t see myself getting the games taken away: it’d just prolong the affair, so I’m nipping it in the bud now,” said Ferdinand, who was speaking at the Web Summit technology conference in Dublin this afternoon.
During the on-stage interview, he was asked what he’d learned from the affair, which involved a row with a Twitter user on transfer deadline day. “You’ve got to pick your moments!” said Ferdinand.
“The problem is that sometimes you’re at home, you’ve lost a game, you’re sitting there, and you’re looking though your Twitter feed, and you’re really frustrated. You’ve lost the game, you’re playing rubbish... and you just see a few tweets that come in,” he said.
“’That’s funny, that one’s funny, he’s giving me a bit of stick, that’s funny, he’s giving me stick, he’s coming back on again! I’m gonna shut him down’. Invariably I get it right, and I shut him down and he gets retweeted and he has to open a new account because he gets destroyed.”
Ferdinand said that the fine and suspension has reminded him to be more careful on Twitter. “You’ve got to be mindful of what you say and when you say it. Normally I’ve been quite good at that,” he said.
Ferdinand said that his Twitter account has been “the biggest thing in my armoury” when it comes to scotching the “caricature” that he feels he’s been represented as in the media.
“Now when I speak to people on the street, they say to me: the feedback I get is ‘you’re a different type of person’,” he said, before addressing the issue of criticism from journalists.
“They paint that picture and you see a caricature of you evolve. And you sit there thinking ‘woah, you don’t know me’,” he said. “For you to be able to have this opportunity and platform on social media, that’s why I embraced it.”
Ferdinand admitted he has faced racist taunts and other abuse on Twitter, and said he’d welcome more efforts by social networks to crack down on the worst offenders.
“If Twitter, Facebook etc can find away of monitoring that, that’d be great. It’s going to be difficult, but it would be fantastic,” he said. “I say to people if you don’t have a thick skin, don’t go on there... you’ve just got to dust it off.”
He said he uses negativity on Twitter as “fuel” for his career, including answering critics, whether regular fans or celebrity sparring partners like Piers Morgan. “When you win the league, that is when I’m on Twitter and Facebook!” he said.
Ferdinand said that he believes Twitter has changed the way journalists perceive him too. “The ability to speak and interact all the time and engage with people: it just shows a realer side of you, and they get to understand you,” he said.
“It can be a hard place to be at times, if you’re losing and not playing well. That’s when the venom starts coming out... The problem with social media is if you’re impulsive, don’t go on there. You’ve got to be able to control yourself.”
Ferdinand talked about the digital version of his magazine #5, which has won plaudits as an app. “That has really set me a platform to be able to think to the next phase of my life after football,” he said. “By doing that, it’s opened me up to a lot of other things.”
He also said that Roy Keane had been a big influence on his career, from the moment when he was bawled out by Keane for not passing the ball forwards in an early training session.
“I thought ‘this guy is crazy! He’s nuts, how am I going to deal with this guy every day?” he said. “But I realised that you’ve got to take chances, and that’s how I ended up playing my career and not just playing the simple ball to Gary [Neville] or the guy who’s 10 yards away.”
Ferdinand said he’d like to get into management, although he admitted he sometimes wonders whether he’d fancy the pressure, based on watching his current boss at QPR, Harry Redknapp.
“I see the look on Harry’s face sometimes and think ‘I don’t need that!’ But I think I’d enjoy managing people. I’ve had three managers in the last two years: Ferguson, Moyes and Harry Redknapp. It’s been a great two years in terms of learning.”
Back on a technology, Ferdinand warned against too much reliance on statistics in football management: “You’ve got to have a good balance,” he said, praising intelligent use of data to improve areas like training routines, while saying stats shouldn’t drive everything.
“At the end of the day, can you get a ball from A to B?”
This article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 5th November 2014 15.25 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010