Van Nistelrooy Faces the Axe
Sir Alex Ferguson will decide whether to transfer-list Ruud van Nistelrooy within 24 hours, after the striker reacted to being dropped by driving home before Manchester United's 4-0 defeat of Charlton. The Dutchman's fit of pique looks certain to have sealed his departure and signifies the end of a relationship with the manager that has gone downhill since he omitted him from the Carling Cup final in February.
Ferguson has told some of his closest associates that Van Nistelrooy, 29, has no future at the club and that he has been incensed by the striker's attitude since it became apparent that he could no longer consider himself a fixture in the team.
It came to a head when Ferguson informed his players during yesterday's pre-match meal that Giuseppe Rossi would make a full league debut in Van Nistelrooy's place. The Dutchman took a taxi to Old Trafford, where his car was parked, and drove home, a move that will see him fined two weeks' wages and which probably means he has played his last game.
"There have been a couple of issues in training during the last week that have concerned me in terms of the team spirit," Ferguson said. "It was such an important day I wanted everyone to be together and because of that I felt Ruud should be left out. I will be discussing it with the club's directors tomorrow and Tuesday."
Van Nistelrooy's sympathisers will argue that 150 goals in 219 games mark him out as one of the best strikers in United's history.