Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy says he has not fallen out with boss Sir Alex Ferguson after being dropped for the Carling Cup final. Van Nistelrooy was left on the bench during Sunday’s 4-0 victory over Wigan with Louis Saha picked ahead of him.
Van Nistelrooy told Sporting Life:
“The manager told me before the game that I wasn’t playing. I was very disappointed but I could understand why he wanted to play Louis because he has been playing very well in the competition this season. You have to accept the decision as a professional player. There is no problem between me and the manager. I cheered the first two goals with everyone else on the bench and I was happy for the team. I’ve heard suggestions I was acting. Well, if I was, then I’m the best actor in Holland. I’ve scored a lot of goals this season and feel I’ve been playing well and I hope to be back in the team to play Wigan on Monday. I expect to play the league matches.”
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson also played down his decision to drop Ruud van Nistelrooy for the 4-0 Carling Cup win over Wigan on Sunday. He said striker Louis Saha was picked for the final because of his form in the competition and denied that Van Nistelrooy had objected to the move.
Fergie said to the BBC:
“He seemed to be OK in the dressing room before the game and he was OK with the players. He’s disappointed but he had to be disappointed, that’s the nature of it. Saha scored the second and since he has been fit he has scored 10 in 13 games- there is a danger of overlooking it and not giving him his credit. It happened to me in the Scottish Cup final in 1965 and I was dropped at 10 past two.” said the United boss, who was a Dunfermline player at the time.”
Van Nistelrooy was one of the first United players to leave the pitch after the final and left the stadium without talking to the media.
Saha admitted that he was surprised by Ferguson’s decision to play him:
“It was a bit strange to start. I want to start every game. Sometimes the choice goes my way and other times it doesn’t but thankfully I got the opportunity to play in a final. After my previous experiences in finals, it would have been great just to get a few minutes. I didn’t feel any extra pressure because Ruud wasn’t in the team. The most important thing is to remain focused as a group to make sure you win the game.”
Ferguson hailed the display of man-of-the-match Wayne Rooney but also singled out Ji-Sung Park and Ryan Giggs for praise:
“I thought Ryan was absolutely fantastic. When it comes to running up and down the line, there is no one to match him except maybe young Ji. He was very mature and controlled.”