Van Nistelrooy stunned by his Old Trafford demise

May 22, 2006

Ruud van Nistelrooy has admitted he simply cannot understand why his Manchester United career appears to be in ruins.

The prolific striker seems certain to have played his last game for the Red Devils following an amazing fall-out with Sir Alex Ferguson prior to the final Premiership game against Charlton earlier this month which led the United boss to order Van Nistelrooy out of the team hotel.

That bust-up followed Ferguson's decision to repeatedly omit Van Nistelrooy - one of only eight players to score 150 goals for the Old Trafford outfit - in favour of Louis Saha and finally Giuseppe Rossi over the latter weeks of the campaign.

Without some unexpected twist, the 29-year-old will be putting himself into the shop window when he turns out for Holland in the World Cup this summer.

And, while reports of a training ground row with Cristiano Ronaldo have neither been confirmed nor denied by player or club, Van Nistelrooy is at a total loss to comprehend why he looks like being forced out of the club he loves.

'I know a lot of people in Manchester don't understand it, well it is the same for me,' he said. 'I love Manchester United. That is why I don't really understand it.

'What has happened has happened. I have a World Cup in front of me, so I need to try and forget about it and move on.

'But one thing I want to make clear is that I went (from the hotel) because I had to go, not because I went myself.'

Van Nistelrooy has not spoken to Ferguson since his row with the Scot, during which the forward was also told he would not be welcome at Roy Keane's testimonial, a match he was desperate to play in due to his close friendship with the Irishman, who departed United in controversial circumstances himself in November.

However, some of the former PSV Eindhoven star's Old Trafford colleagues have been rather more forthcoming, making contact which Van Nistelrooy appreciates.

'I have been in touch with a few team-mates,' he said. 'That was nice and gave me a good feeling.'

With two years on a contract worth an estimated £90,000 a week still to run, Van Nistelrooy is understandably keen to stress his days at United are not necessarily over.

In practice, however, the scramble for his services is already on with Chelsea, Inter and AC Milan, Tottenham and Newcastle among the clubs who have been linked with a player who has scored an incredible 47 Champions League goals.

'I have two years left on my contract and if things stay the way they are at the moment I will still be at the club next season,' he said.

'But I am not naive and the fact I wasn't involved in the last Premiership game or Roy Keane's testimonial was not a good sign, but nothing is going to happen until after the World Cup.'

Although he could have been forgiven for carrying the worries of the world on his shoulders as he pushed himself through the first day of training at Holland's World Cup camp in Switzerland, Van Nistelrooy was actually very relaxed.

Coach Marco Van Basten has already assured the forward he remains an integral part of his planning for an arduous group phase which pits the Netherlands against Serbia and Montenegro, the Ivory Coast and Argentina.

And the confidence generated by the support he has conspicuously failed to receive from his club manager since Ferguson axed him for the Carling Cup Final victory over Wigan in February, leaves Van Nistelrooy looking ahead to this weekend's friendly tussle with Cameroon in Rotterdam with an air of optimism.

'Of course it is easy to concentrate on my football,' he said. 'We have the World Cup coming up. I don't feel there is more pressure on me because I know Marco van Basten has confidence in me, as do the other coaches, my team-mates and the supporters, which is all I need.

'I actually feel quite good. I have come into a team that is very motivated to do well. I am part of that and I feel happy with it.

'In that sense, I can forget what happened and try to move on, which is what I am doing.'