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Where Are They Now? Ruud van Nistelrooy – 150 goal striker was a great purchase for United

Manchester United signed Ruud van Nistelrooy for £19 million in the summer of 2001 but wanted to complete the deal in the summer of 2000 but the player suffered a rupture to his anterior cruciate knee ligaments during a training session, which kept him out of action for the following year. At the time he was signed by United, it was a relatively risky deal considering the injury he had suffered a year before but United were ready to take the gamble. At the time he signed for United, Van Nistelrooy said:

“The price is not heavy for me – it lifts me up because it means United have big confidence in me.”

The Dutchman spend five seasons at United, playing 219 times and scoring 150 goals – a feat in modern day football. In terms of goals scored for United, Van Nistelrooy sits in eleventh place with the likes of Paul Scholes, Mark Hughes, Ryan Giggs, Joe Spence, George Best, Dennis Viollet, Jack Rowley, Denis Law, Sir Bobby Charlton and Wayne Rooney ahead of him. The Dutchman was a great striker of the ball and a great player of his time.

Van Nistelrooy also assisted 21 times for United, showing that he was not always that selfish striker and would lay on goals for his teammates. This is something that was good to see at the time as most players would prefer to score themselves. He scored six hat-tricks for United in his time at the club, scoring three goals in a match five times, scoring four goals once. United had not seen a hat-trick since Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored one against Saint-Étienne in the UEFA Europa League in February 2017 until Marcus Rashford scored his first senior career hat-trick against RB Leipzig on Wednesday.

Before signing for United, Van Nistelrooy has youth careers with Nooit Gedacht (1981-90), RKSV Margriet (1990-91) and Den Bosch (1991-93), making the senior team for the latter from 1993-97. He then signed for Heerenveen, leaving in 1998 for PSV Eindhoven, the club he left for head to United. Van Nistelrooy was passionate and according to former teammate, Paul Scholes, he used to sulk if rival, Thierry Henry had scored. Scholes said:

“I played No.10 with Ruud van Nistelrooy for a season and I loved it.

“He’s just a ruthless, ruthless goalscorer. He just lived for scoring goals.

“Whenever he did score or didn’t score, the first thing he would do when we got on the team bus after the game was see if Thierry Henry scored.

“If Thierry Henry had scored he wouldn’t talk to anybody for the full trip home because he was so engrossed in being the leading goalscorer, not just at United but in the league, in the world, everywhere.”

Van Nistelrooy won the Premier League Golden Boot for the 2002/03 season, with Henry winning the season before and the three seasons after, with the Dutchman scoring 25 goals in the league alone that season. Van Nistelrooy is amongst five players who have won the Golden Boot for United in the league; Dwight Yorke (1998/99), Cristiano Ronaldo (2007/08), Dimitar Berbatov (2010/11), and Robin van Persie (2012/13). The rivalry with Henry was intense.

Van Nistelrooy scored 95 goals in 150 Premier League appearances, which is a great feat considering the five seasons he was part of at United. Scholes also spoke about his former teammate’s finishing, which was rather spectacular. Scholes has played with Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie but classes the Dutchman was the best finisher of the lot, saying:

“I loved the way he finished. Look, I played with some unbelievable centre-forwards. You are thinking [Andy] Cole, Yorke, [Teddy] Sheringham, [Ole Gunnar] Solskjaer. There are loads. Van Persie I played with as well.

“There are some unbelievable goalscorers. But to me, Ruud was the best, he was the best finisher.”

Former United teammate Darren Fletcher also spoke to the media about Van Nistelrooy, confirming that ‘if he hadn’t scored he’s be absolutely raging,’ which shows how passionate the Dutchman was about finding the back of the net. Perhaps he went too far by raging if he didn’t score, but you will understand the challenges they he set himself, aiming to score every time he played, which is a great work ethic. Fletcher said:

“Ruud [Van Nistelrooy] was brilliant and a great guy in the dressing as well.

“I sat beside him and he really looked after me when I first got into the team. I didn’t drive for a while and he used to pick me up and be my chauffeur!

“But he was [obsessed with scoring].

“We’d win a game 4-0 but if he hadn’t scored he would come into the dressing room and throw his boots against the wall, he’d be slapping his boots down, he’d be absolutely raging!

“Everyone else was like, ‘we’ve just won 4-0’, but for him he was that ruthless as a goal scorer he just wanted to score in every game.

“It didn’t matter if we won 5-0, 4-0, 3-0 – if he hadn’t scored he’s be absolutely raging.

“That was his weekend destroyed!”

In the summer of 2006, Van Nistelrooy left United, with then manager, Sir Alex Ferguson confirming that the player wanted to leave, seemingly after a furious bust-up between the pair in the final Premier League game of the 2005/06 season, which was unfortunate. Real Madrid and Bayern Munich seemed interested in the player with a €14 million bid accepted and the player heading to Madrid. It was a shame to see this prolific goalscorer leave the club.

Van Nistelrooy spent three and a half seasons in Madrid, playing 96 times, scoring 64 goals and assisting a further 16. After Madrid, he left for the Bundesliga, signing for Hamburger SV in January 2010 for 18 months and played 44 times, scoring 17 goals and a further three assists. After his time in Germany, La Liga called again with his signing for Malaga, spending one season at the club, where he played 32 times, scoring five goals and one assist. That was the end of the road for the Dutchman, playing anyway.

Van Nistelrooy has a glittering career as a player, winning two Eredivisie titles and one Johan Cruyff Shield at PSV, one Premier League title, one FA Cup, one League Cup and one FA Community Shield at United, winning two La Liga titles and one Supercopa de Espańa at Real Madrid – a total of ten different trophies for three different clubs. At international level, Van Nistelrooy played for the Netherlands, making his debut in 1998 and hanging up his boots for his country in 2011, playing 70 times and scoring 35 goals – his first against Morocco in a friendly in 1999, his last against Hungary in 2011 as part of the qualification for UEFA Euro 2012.

On the 22 June 2013, Van Nistelrooy joined former club PSV Eindhoven as a coaching intern working with the U17 level within the club’s academy. Just three years later, it was revealed that the Dutchman would become the striker coach for the U17, U19 and the reserve team. Whilst back at PSV, Van Nistelrooy helped then Netherland’s coach, Guus Hiddink after the 2014 FIFA World Cup, after Louis van Gaal left the team for United, this was additional to he work with PSV.

Van Nistelrooy is the coach for the U19s at PSV after succeeding Mark van Bommel, who was promoted to first team head coach after Phillip Cocu left for Fenerbahçe, at the time. He is also the assistant coach of the Netherlands and was part of Ronald Koeman’s coaching staff before he left for Barcelona. The Dutchman is obviously setting up the foundations for a career in management, starting at youth level, aiming to work his way up. Currently 44, he has plenty of time to set his sights on the goal he wants. Perhaps he’s happy having a role in the development of the teenagers he’s working with. At the time he was made the head of PSV’s U19s, Van Nistelrooy said:

“This is a great opportunity to take the next step in my development. I have thought about it and talked about it extensively with a number of people.

“This is a great time to take on this job. I am really looking forward to working with this talented group in this position.”

Written by John Walker

Hirving Lozano stalls Napoli move as he has Manchester United ‘in his sights’ – but do United want to sign the Mexican?

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could be boosted by the speculation that Hirving Lozano, currently of PSV Eindhoven, wants to join the Old Trafford club this summer. The winger was expected to join Napoli this week in a £40 million deal but the move has stalled, according to reports.

The report states that the 23-year-old, who has previously been linked to the Old Trafford club, has a move to the Premier League, more importantly, United, in his sights. The Dutch side was happy to allow the player to leave this summer as Napoli manager, Carlo Ancelotti made the Mexican his number one target.

There are, however, contradicting reports in Italy, this one by Il Roma, which suggests the player has been told by his agent, Mino Raiola that a move to United is not going to be an option. Raiola has apparently spoken to Ancelotti and Napoli president, Aurelio De Laurentiis but the player may be wanting other things.

United signed a player from Mexico many years ago, under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson – Javier Hernandez. He became a fan favourite at the club and a household name at that. Lozano might not necessarily be wanted at United though. United has recently announced a move for Swansea City winger Daniel James, who is expected to be confirmed by the club this week with the international transfer window opening.

The Mexican will probably end up in Italy this summer, seemingly delaying his move to Napoli to see if United come calling for him. However, United need a right winger this summer although James might play in that position, although he is a left winger. Lozano is known as a left winger but during the past season, he predominantly played on the right, scoring ten goals and eight assists in that position.

The 23-year-old is contracted at PSV until the summer of 2023, since signing for the club in 2017. He ended the season with a knee injury and should be fit by the end of the month. Last season, he played a total of 40 times, scored 21 goals, assisting a further 12 goals. He averaged a goal every 154 minutes, playing a total of 3,243 minutes of football.

If Solskjaer wants the player and feels that he would make a difference to his squad, I am sure he will make attempts to sign him. However, with Raiola being keen to get him over to Napoli, not giving the player an option to sign for United, unless he has already offered the player to United and they rejected him, his future will probably be spent in Italy.

Manchester United interested in PSV Eindhoven winger Steven Bergwijn

Manchester United hold an interest in PSV Eindhoven winger Steven Bergwijn according to reports. The 21-year-old has scored nine goals and eight assists in 17 Eredivisie appearances this season, Bergwijn has a further assist in the UEFA Champions League, making a total of 23 appearances this season, meaning that he averages either a goal or an assist every 0.78 matches, which for his age is great.

It is suggested that United’s caretaker manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has expressed an interest in adding an attacking player to his squad this season. Many will be happy to see that Bergwijn is an attacking midfielder who can play on the left or the right. A right-winger has been problematic at the club for quite a few years now, which does not seem to be something the hierarchy at the club has wanted to address, based on the lack of movement for such a player.

Currently, Jesse Lingard has been occupying the right-wing position but if he is injured for any length of time, Juan Mata would be the only experienced player to step into that role. Despite Mata being an experienced player, him playing in a wide role goes against anything United stands for. He has the mind to play football but his pace is somewhat lacking, meaning he ventures into a more central area, leaving the right-wing exposed.

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It has been suggested in the reports that United have scouted Bergwijn this season and watched PSV draw 2-2 with Emmen at the weekend, a game which saw the 21-year-old grab an assist. It was the first in five games that the player did not score a goal himself, which shows the form he is in right now. Bergwijn is a player from Ajax’s amazing Academy, a club which has been developing some top-level players over the years.

PSV manager, Mark van Bommel, replaced Phillip Cocu in the summer, which has seen the Dutch legend build his own PSV side, of which Bergwijn has become a first team regular under. Bergwijn has also represented the Netherlands at every level from the U17s upwards, appearing three times for the senior side, two of which were in the UEFA Nations League. He could even be involved in the summer when the Netherlands face England in Portugal in the semi-finals of the competition.

United may have to battle with Tottenham Hotspur for the Dutch international whilst West Ham United, Inter Milan and Bournemouth has all expressed an interest in the player. His current contract at PSV expires in the summer of 2022 but there are suggestions in the report that the Dutch club is resigned to losing the player before the expiry of his contract, although that is not confirmed by any club official, the player or his representatives.

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PSV would like to keep Bergwijn for the remainder of the season, which could see them win back to back Eredivisie titles, which they achieved in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons, breaking Ajax’s monopoly or four titles in a row, stopping them from a fifth. It is also suggested that the likes of Torino, Bordeaux, Real Sociedad and CSKA Moscow are all monitoring Bergwijn ahead of a possible move. However, it is also stated in reports that a move to United would be tempting. They would say that though, wouldn’t they!

Right now, United have recovered from a poor season, winning seven matches in a row. Some are not convinced as for at least two matches, United seem to have struggled but Rome was not built in a day. Solskjaer has found belief in his side, which is a good thing as the squad did seem to be dejected under Jose Mourinho. The one thing that puzzles me is the fact that with Solskjaer as the caretaker manager, why would United look to sign players?

It is suggested that United will be recruiting a Director of Football, which is necessary for this day and age. Without one, and the fact that Solskjaer is a temporary fix at the club unless the hierarchy knows more than we do, which is always the case anyway, recruitment without a Director of Football and a permanent manager would seem pointless. Who knows what is happening? The one thing that is necessary here is that United do need a winger to play on the right, whether it happens though will be seen in time.

copyright: JW