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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

Van Nistelrooy happy to stay at Manchester United

Ruud van Nistelrooy insists his future will not be decided until after the World Cup.

Although the prolific Dutchman is adamant his love for Manchester United remains undiminished, his chances of appearing for the Old Trafford outfit again remain bleak following his stunning end-of-season bust-up with Sir Alex Ferguson.

But, unlike fellow high-profile strikers Thierry Henry and Andriy Shevchenko, who wanted to make sure their own futures were clarified before travelling to Germany, Van Nistelrooy is relaxed enough about his situation to put his commitment to his country above his day-to-day club career.

'Nothing is going to happen until after the World Cup,' he said.

'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.

'But I am not naive. The fact I wasn't involved in the last Premiership game or Roy Keane's testimonial was not a good sign.'

Despite becoming only the eighth player in United history to net 150 goals for the club, Van Nistelrooy now appears surplus to requirements.

The 29-year-old has not spoken to Ferguson since the Scot threw him out of United's team hotel prior to the final Premiership game against Charlton, citing the former PSV Eindhoven player's negative effect on team morale as the reason for his expulsion.

Although Van Nistelrooy was back in Holland that night, and is now at the Dutch training camp in Switzerland as preparations for the World Cup step up a gear, the stonewalling has not extended to every member of the Old Trafford staff.

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

With two years of his £90,000-a-week contract still to run, it is understandable that Van Nistelrooy is refusing to publicly confirm his days at United are 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.

However, if a parting of the ways is inevitable, it is also mystifying to a man who has enjoyed such a close relationship with Ferguson for most of his five years with the Red Devils.

'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.'