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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

Red Icons: Ruud Van Nistelrooy; one of Manchester United’s greatest ever strikers

Ruud Van Nistelrooy is regarded as one of Manchester United’s greatest ever strikers. The Dutchman spent five years at Old Trafford wearing the number 10 shirt and becoming a fan favourite. He was indeed one of the first names on the team sheet and Fergie’s go-to man when United needed a goal or two.

The former Dutch international joined United in 2001 for £19 million from PSV Eindhoven. However, a year earlier, Van Nistelrooy looked set to join United for £18.5 million. Unfortunately for both United and Van Nistelrooy, the striker experienced problems with his knee so due to concerns, United postponed his unveiling. Additionally, the striker then ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in a training session with PSV. Upon hearing this news, United then cancelled the transfer altogether. The following season when Van Nistelrooy was back to fitness, United came back in and got the deal done to bring the Dutchman to Old Trafford.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy was a pure goal scorer, one of the greatest ever finishers to grace the Old Trafford turf. He has had many critics claiming he was not a great all-round footballer however, he was much better at producing game-winning moments that these all-round quality footballers were. He was not a flat track bully either, he also scored big goals against big teams. He is the fourth highest goalscorer in Champions League history behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Raul with 56 goals. The striker’s qualities consisted of pace, power, intelligent movement and his finishing ability.

The player is, without doubt, a Manchester United legend. He has scored 150 goals for United whilst playing 219 matches for the club. His prolific goal scoring has placed him right up there with whatever United had to offer. He scored against Liverpool in a 2-1 win in the Charity Shield on his debut to announce himself to United fans. He also scored two goals in a 3-2 win against Fulham to make his Premier League debut. After recovering from a ruptured ACL injury, the Dutchman showed no signs of slowing down with 23 goals in the Premier League in his first season.

In his second season, he ended up winning the Golden Boot with 25 goals in the Premier League. In 2003 he won the Premier League player of the season. In addition, in the same season, he scored 12 goals in the Champions League and was named as the best striker in Europe by UEFA.

In the 2003/2004 season, he scored in the first two games of the season. This lead to him creating a record of being the only player to score in ten consecutive Premier League games. However, this was broken by Jamie Vardy in 2015.

Van Nistelrooy joined United in a period where Sir Alex Ferguson was trying to build another dynasty after winning the treble. He ended his United career with winning one Premier League, an FA Cup, a League Cup and Community Shield. These honours come amongst many individual awards. Overall, Ruud Van Nistelrooy will be a player whose memory will live long in the minds of United fans.

Written by Shane Purcell

Marcus Rashford is getting the right praise to continue his rise to fame

Marcus Rashford scored the winning goal for England in their 2-1 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Slovakia on Monday evening. The player did well in the match despite being at fault for Slovakia’s opening goal inside three minutes with Rashford tracking back to cover for Kyle Walker, who was out of position, him not being blamed for that but Rashford being blamed for helping to concede the goal. United equalised through Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Eric Dier with Rashford getting the assist from a corner, scoring the winner in the 59th minute of the match. England manager Gareth Southgate praised Rashford for his “huge impact” in his comments after the match.

Manchester United teammate Phil Jones praised Rashford, suggesting that he will become a “world beater” for the Old Trafford club with the 19-year-old off to a great start this season. In the three matches United have played in the Premier League this season, all victories, Rashford has played in all three, starting in the 4-0 victories over West Ham United and Swansea City, coming off the bench in the 2-0 victory over Leicester City. The England international has scored once (Leicester City) and assisted another goal (West Ham United) also adding the assist and goal for England against Slovakia. Jones feels Rashford has only just scratched the surface of his potential. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Jones said:

“He’s a great lad off the pitch and, on it, he’s a special talent. He’s already special but he’ll be a world-beater one day, he’s that good.

“He’s so quick, sharp, technically gifted, two-footed and a nightmare for defenders. You’ve seen it this season already, he’s given defenders nightmares.

“He’s an academy product and players from the youth system have done great over the last few years. He’s a special player and we’re lucky to have him.”

Class of 92 graduate and former England international Phil Neville also praised Rashford after Monday’s World Cup qualifier victory over Slovakia which sees England only points away from confirming their place in the FIFA World Cup in Russia next summer. Neville, also a former coach for United in the David Moyes season, and post-Moyes departure with Ryan Giggs leading the club alongside Neville and Paul Scholes. Neville, speaking to Sky Sports spoke about Rashford and how nothing fazed him, saying:

“I think we saw what Rashford is all about and his unbelievable temperament in showing that nothing really fazes him. After criticism of the performance in Malta and then what was probably Rashford’s mistake in trying to run the ball out of defence for Slovakia’s opener, he responded by showing he is made for the big stage.”

Neville also spoke about Rashford’s start to the season and that he seems to have goals on his mind, scoring one for United, also an assist, plus the same for England one month into the new season. The former United player also spoke about the position Rashford has been playing, predominantly on the wing, which is where he fits in at this moment in time whilst he is developing as a player. Some question why the player is put on the wing, Neville offers his opinion comparing it with Thierry Henry, who played on the wing in the early days  of his career, saying:

“This season he’s looked like he’s got goals on his mind, having more shots than before, and he has become stronger and faster. I think we’ve got an absolute star on our hands.

“People are questioning his position, whether he should be playing on the left or the right, but I don’t think it matters one bit just as long as he is playing.

“I played against Thierry Henry when he was on the left and that didn’t stop his development. What it actually does is provide a bit more freedom and takes the pressure off a bit.”

Neville also stated that Rashford will end up as a centre-forward, the position he wants to play but has suggested himself that playing in the wide roles and behind a striker will see him learning much more to become that out-and-out striker he wants to be. Neville, concluding his comments on Rashford, said:

“Rashford will end up as a centre-forward but just getting minutes and experience is important. Playing in Europa League and FA Cup finals and for England is fantastic experience at that age.

“He’s already proven himself on the bigger stage and, as much as you don’t want to overhype young players, I think he’s perfectly poised to really step up at the World Cup.

“When you are talking about young players stepping up at major tournaments – Michael Owen in ’98, Wayne Rooney in ’04 – these players go to these tournaments and relish the opportunity to really announce themselves and I think Rashford can do that.”

Rashford seems to be in for a lot of praise at this moment in time with teammate Phil Jones suggesting he will be a world-beater, former Red Phil Neville suggesting that his development is going just fine, but the pinnacle of the praise comes from Ruud van Nistelrooy, a player who scored 150 goals in 219 appearances for United, scoring a total of 347 goals in 589 club appearances during his highly decorated career as a player. Van Nistelrooy made his return to Old Trafford this weekend in the legends match against Barcelona, scoring in the 2-2 draw which saw United win 5-3 over the two legs this summer. The Dutchman, reported by The Express, said:

“As a striker, of course, you depend on service, and now there’s a team that can create chances and can get you balls in the box as well, gets passes in, they can make your runs and get crosses in and that helps a lot.

“Looking back on what Marcus Rashford came into he’s done spectacularly well, as a young lad coming in to a team that didn’t score that many goals.

“He’s done brilliantly, so I think the development he’s gone through means he will only get better now.

“There’s creativity there, there’s passes there, there’s players who can move, who can finish.

“The full-backs are joining in, putting in the crosses as well, there’s a very strong block in the centre of the midfield and in the back, a strong goalkeeper so it’s a very complete squad at the moment.

“It was great to see United back winning the big trophies last year, and now they have built on a better squad and hopefully this year the football will join the trophies.”

It seems that Rashford is a player many have high hopes for, all for a good reason too. The player is not the flop than many a United supporter said he was, he is an exciting player who is willing to do what it takes to make his rise to fame come apparent during his career. Rashford is a long way from the finished article, but what he has done so far in his career has shown just what he is capable of. He fears nobody, which for a 19-year-old is great.

With praise coming from Jones, Neville and Van Nistelrooy, it really will show the player that he is doing the right things on his rise to stardom. Rashford will be a player that we hear more of and see more from this season with Jose Mourinho looking to get the best out of the teenager, fitting him into the squad with Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Zlatan Ibrahimovic when he returns from injury later this year if the reports are correct – Mourinho has previously suggested January but the player has been included in the clubs UEFA Champions League squad for the group stages of the competition.

Romelu Lukaku gunning for Real Madrid and tipped to be a hit by Ruud van Nistelrooy

Manchester United signed Romelu Lukaku from Everton for £75 million almost a fortnight ago now and in the three matches played since the signing was confirmed, the Belgian striker has been going from strength to strength with his new teammates. Lukaku has played against LA Galaxy, failing to score a goal on his debut in the 5-2 victory over the MLS side. United then beat Real Salt Lake 2-1 in which the Belgian scored the winning goal and then the Manchester derby in Houston, Texas, Lukaku scored the opening goal against Manchester City in the 37th minute after beating the goalkeeper by heading the ball and firing on target from a difficult angle, putting United ahead against their cross-city rivals. Lukaku will now face both Real Madrid and Barcelona, two of the best teams in Europe in a bid to find his goalscoring boots against better opposition.

Lukaku has been training with his United teammates since his signing was announced by the Old Trafford club with United using the UCLA complex in Los Angeles for the best part of a fortnight before leaving for the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturday where they will face Real Madrid at the San Francisco 49ers Levi’s Stadium on Sunday. United will then head over to the East Coast where they will face Barcelona at the Washington Redskins FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, close to the capital city, Washington DC. The Belgian spoke to the official Manchester United website over the past few days discussing the hard work put in whilst getting ready for the new season, his goal against City, the match against Real Madrid, how he and United wants to play the best teams and how he wants to see United attack, attack, attack. Speaking about working hard, Lukaku said:

“I am really delighted with the work that we are putting in. We are working very hard. The manager is putting his tactical concepts to us and we are doing very well on the pitch. We want to continue like that.”

Lukaku then spoke about his second goal for United against Manchester City where he beat the goalkeeper by heading the ball, coming wide of the target and firing his diagonal shot into the back of the net beating the advancing defenders who were trying to clear the ball. The Belgian who stated it was ‘instinct’ said:

“It was a move that we work on in training on a daily basis. The pass was brilliant, the run was okay and it was just basically instinct. It was good to be part of the derby. To get the win as well was important. For us it was a good training session. The guys are fitter now and we have to keep working.”

United face Real Madrid at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Sunday afternoon (late in the evening in the United Kingdom) and Lukaku, as well as his United teammates, are feasting at the opportunity of going head-to-head with the reigning La Liga and UEFA Champions League holders, said:

“Like the manager says, for us it is going to be a good training session and a good workout to see how we are improving and getting his concepts. They are going to be a tough opponents but we are here to work hard, to get fitter and to get better as we get closer to the new season.”

Also confirming that Manchester United want to take on the best teams, similar to what teammate Paul Pogba said on Saturday, Lukaku said:

“Yeah of course, this is what you want. A big club like Manchester United always want to play against the best clubs and win as well. We are working really hard and we are doing out best to keep the momentum going, and that is the main goal.”

For the past four seasons now, on the terraces at Old Trafford or on the road, when United have been lacklustre, which has happened many times, the supporters had chanted ‘attack, attack, attack’. Lukaku wants to bring that to Old Trafford and beyond this coming season, as does the manager, Jose Mourinho and the Belgian striker’s teammates. Lukaku said:

“We can do it all. The manager is helping us through it as well. We are really hungry and working hard to get even better. We are doing the stuff right, hopefully we are improving and we can take it into the season as well.”

Former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, who will play for the club again in September against Barcelona at Old Trafford as part of the ‘legends are back’ match, has praised United’s newest signing, Romelu Lukaku. The Dutch hitman, who scored 150 goals in 219 appearances for the Old Trafford club before leaving for Real Madrid, scoring 64 goals in 96 appearances, Hamburger SV, scoring 17 goals in 44 matches and finally Malaga, scoring five goals in 32 appearances, the player then retired from the game and concentrated on coaching. Van Nistelrooy, who clearly knows a goalscoring striker when he sees commented on the first time he saw Lukaku play, telling the official Manchester United website:

“I actually remember playing against Romelu Lukaku. I was at Hamburg, he was at Anderlecht, and it was in the Europa League. He had made his professional debut at a very young age, I think he was 16 when he first started playing in Belgium. I was so impressed with his fitness and physical ability, as well as his touch. His will to succeed was incredible, he never gave in and always kept fighting. Even from a young age, I was impressed by him.”

When asked about the Belgian striker’s best attributes, the Dutchman said:

“Physically, he’s unbelievably strong and, with the pace he has, he often puts away the chances he gets. I think he’s one of the true number nines, like Harry Kane at Tottenham – they’re strong centre-forwards who are also a reference point during the build-up play. Romelu is strong on the ball but also when making runs and finishing chances.”

Van Nistelrooy was then asked how he feels Romelu Lukaku would fare whilst playing in the famous red shirt of Manchester United and making that mental step up from Everton, saying:

“Well, he’s proven himself at Everton. His challenge now is to make another step up and to prove himself at his new club as well. It’s different playing at United to playing at Everton, so it will be a mental step, too. The pressure is different, so if he’s capable of dealing with that, I can’t see any problems. I also think having better players around him will help and I think he’ll fit in really well. I expect he’ll start hitting his peak now. From the club’s point of view, it’s the perfect time to sign him. Over the next six, seven or eight years, United will hopefully have a great centre-forward in Romelu Lukaku.”

The Dutchman was then asked about the impact of manager Jose Mourinho on Lukaku and how the Belgian would adapt. Van Nistelrooy, praising the Portuguese manager of Manchester United, said:

“Well, I don’t think he could be playing for a better manager than Jose Mourinho. He will help and guide Lukaku through this stage in his career and, if he has any difficulty, Jose has the experience and advice to get players back on track. I think that combination will prove a very successful one.”

When asked if he had a message for Lukaku, Van Nistelrooy said: “Yes… good luck, Romelu”. United certainly have a highly regarded striker in their hands ahead of the most important season post-Sir Alex Ferguson. A player who has consistently scored goals in the Premier League and one who is looking to increase his playing abilities and learn from the best players in the best competitions. Lukaku will be expected to help steer United into contenders to challenge for the Premier League title this coming season and also show his abilities in Europe’s elite competition, the UEFA Champions League with United returning to the competition for the first time since the start of the 2015/16 season, where they exited the tournament at the group stage, falling into the UEFA Europa League that season, exiting at the hands of Liverpool.

United failed to quality for the Champions League at the end of that season, finishing fifth in the league and earning a Europa League group stage berth, in hwhich they ended the season lifting the only trophy the club had not won before, earning the group stage place in the Champions League, also finishing sixth in the Premier League, the competition United fell short in last season, needing to raise their game this coming season. Lukaku could just aid that if everything works out well for United.

copyright: JW