Ruud x Neville: Five trending topics
Everyone’s talking about Ruud van Nistelrooy’s recent appearance on Gary Neville’s YouTube channel, The Overlap.
The erstwhile Manchester United team-mates met up at the training ground of PSV Eindhoven, where Ruud is, of course, currently enjoying his first season in football management.
They discussed van Nistelrooy’s entry into coaching and his future ambitions, as well as taking a trip down memory lane to look at United, Sir Alex Ferguson and much, much more.
Here are five things that stood out to us from Ruud’s nearly hour-long chat with his former team-mate…
‘You’re the only player to try and punch me!’ 👊— The Overlap (@WeAreTheOverlap) March 30, 2023
The exclusive interview with Ruud van Nistelrooy is live! 📺@GNev2 & @RvN1776 discuss Man United, Sir Alex Ferguson, and much more… 🍿
Watch here 👉 https://t.co/Fe1HDOSeIj pic.twitter.com/eXOUPS6Ev7
LIVING NEAR LAW
Van Nistelrooy’s delayed move to United following a knee injury and subsequent surgery is a well-trodden tale, but a story less documented is the relationship between the Dutchman and a former Old Trafford scoring hero. When he eventually did make the journey to Manchester, Ruud settled in an apartment in the leafy suburb of Bowdon, close to the home of Denis Law – the United hotshot whose European goals record he would go on to break.
“I went sometimes for a coffee [with him],” Ruud revealed. “We talked about football, goals. As a striker, it was fantastic. He was my neighbour!
“We’d just have a coffee and talk about anything. It was always good to just have a chat with him.”
CUTTING HIS HAIR DUE TO KEANO
Ruud raced out of the blocks as a Red, netting twice on his Premier League debut against Fulham and breaking the Premier League record for consecutive scoring games by January. It still wasn’t enough to please our notoriously demanding captain Roy Keane though, who took umbrage with one aspect of van Nistelrooy’s appearance.
“Roy with my headband, remember that?” he asked Neville. “He killed me for four months. When I came, I had to put a headband in my hair and I’d put it on for training. I went in the dressing room to the mirrors and he would swear at me!
“This went on for months and, in the end, I actually had enough and I cut my hair!”
Ruud van Nistelrooy - "How Sir Alex kept me hungry for more"podcast
It's the long-awaited arrival of Ruud van Nistelrooy to UTD Podcast. The Dutch goal machine joined us to look back on his career and his goal-laden years at Old Trafford in particular. Ruud went into great detail about his failed move to United the first time around, revealing the emotions and conversations that went on in 2000. He also spoke about the fierce rivalry with Arsenal, how he felt in direct competition with Thierry Henry, and that missed penalty incident with Martin Keown. We also addressed the rumours about his conflict with Cristiano Ronaldo, with Ruud telling us about training ground bust-ups and how things stand between the two since then.
SAYING SORRY TO SIR ALEX
The Dutchman’s goal-laden spell at Old Trafford – he found the net an amazing 150 times in 219 appearances – eventually came to an end in 2006. Ruud had been an unused substitute in our Carling Cup final success over Wigan Athletic in Cardiff and his unhappiness at not being brought on late in the game led to him making a comment to Sir Alex, with their relationship continuing to deteriorate as the season played out. Ruud eventually left for Real Madrid in the summer, but in later years, the striker would make amends with his former manager, remembering the faith Sir Alex had shown in him during his recovery from that knee injury.
“I texted him asking if I could call. He said yes and I called him. A year later, you reflect on things and it was bugging me on a personal level. I shouldn’t have said this at the time, in the cup final. I apologised for that.
“I felt the relationship we had - after the medical had failed and that we built, on an emotional level, on a personal level, maybe a few things altogether - made me react in that way, that I don’t feel was me. I had to apologise for that and he accepted that directly. We kept in touch and then I felt that the apology was worth it, because the relationship was intact again.”
TAKING HIS TIME AS A COACH
Ruud retired in the summer of 2012, following a season with Malaga in La Liga. After a brief break, he’s spent much of the last decade slowly learning the coaching ropes at PSV Eindhoven, the club where he first made his name as a prolific scorer.
Although Neville didn’t expect his fellow ex-Red to go into this route after hanging up his boots, it’s clear van Nistelrooy has always had a thirst for education and now he wants to take the next step in re-establishing PSV as the big name in Dutch football.
“I spoke to Guus Hiddink and he told me to start my badges, to see if I liked it or not. I did my badges here, I think it was 10 years ago at the academy here, with the Under-17s. Little by little, I really started liking it and I felt it was something that could suit my character and my personality,” he began.
“I wanted to take time after 20 years of football. I felt like the tunnel vision of travelling and pressure and everything: I wanted to take my time. It took, yeah, 10 years. Growing into it slowly and also spending lots of time at home with family and doing the school holidays with the kids. Little by little, you grow into it and now it’s full-time again, of course.
“My ambition, I have to say, that it's here at PSV. I cannot see anything else. This is something I really want to accomplish and build on and get this club back at the highest level, competing for trophies and especially getting back into the Champions League.”
HIS COACHING STYLE
Ruud spoke at length about the lessons he has learned from his various coaches, including Sir Alex and Fabio Capello, his boss at Real Madrid. There’s also a fascination from Neville at how a single-minded striker like Ruud can become a manager responsible for the collective at a big club. So how does he like his PSV team – currently third in the Eredivisie – to play?
“I know this instinctive feeling that, when I coach a team, I like to see the ball in my team. When we have the ball, I’m like yes: now we can start playing, now we can start creating. I have a feeling that we have the ball and I like us to attack. We prepare possession to a certain moment where you’re going to hurt the opponent. That’s the reason to play possession. In that sense, I’m looking for the moment to speed up the attack, or go for goal, or set off another pass. That’s when I really start to tick on the sideline.“