"Jonny needs to be patient," said Ferdinand. "The problem is he will also want to play as many games as possible.
"I was the same when I was a kid. I was behind the likes of Slaven Bilic, Alvin Martin and Marc Rieper.
"But I didn't look at how good they were, I just wanted to play. I wanted the manager to at least give me a game here and there. Jonny will be thinking that too."
Ferdinand has no doubts his fellow centre-half will make the grade at Old Trafford.
"Jonny has been called upon a few times already in big games this season and done brilliantly," said the England star.
"He is a great player. It is crazy to think he is so young. Roy Keane tried to buy him in the summer, which tells you a lot.
"He is good with both feet. He is playing regularly for Northern Ireland and will maybe become their captain in the near future.
"It explains why the manager made him realise he needs to stay here. He will have a major part to play at this club in the coming years."