Van Nistelrooy reveals all about our dressing room
Over the years, the dressing room at Manchester United has been known for having a strong presence of local talent right at its heart.
As someone who came into that environment before spending five seasons as an instrumental part of it, that’s something legendary Red Ruud van Nistelrooy can certainly vouch for.
Following his move to Manchester from PSV Eindhoven in 2001, the Dutchman was introduced into a dressing room that was built upon the foundations of those who knew the club best.
“The core of the dressing room was United through and through, that’s what you could feel when you came into it,” Ruud explained during his guest appearance on the latest episode of the UTD Podcast.
“Of course, there was Gary [Neville], Phil [Neville], [Paul] Scholes, Butty [Nicky Butt], Maysie [David May] was there as part of that British-English [core]. There were Mancs everywhere!
“There was also Roy Keane, a very strong influence in that dressing room together with the group I just mentioned,” the 44-year-old added.
“As a newcomer, you knew you had to adjust to that culture and that’s what made the dressing room. That’s why the dressing room is so important, to keep the values and the culture of the club alive.
“Also, Albert [Morgan] the kitman and the staff around it were United. That was the culture of the club and that’s why they were so successful in all those times and hopefully they’re now starting a new era of success.”
Speaking on our new episode of UTD Podcast, available now via all of your usual podcast providers, the Dutchman discusses how his relationship with Keane within that dressing room continued to spur him on during his time as a Red.
“In the first three months, he was so on top of me. Everything I did, he was like ‘do this, and do this'.
“After one month, I thought it was going to stop but it took a few months! Scoring my first goals, [he was like] ‘yeah you scored but it’s onto the next game'.
“He kept your feet on the ground. It’s not always nice to hear, I snapped at him as well and was like ‘for once, just shut up'.
“In the end, you look back on it and my time at United, and he always led by example, never left, and never took anything for granted himself.
“It’s not always nice, but he was right, and I was actually shocked when he left. I was really disappointed with that.”
A dressing room that included competitive characters such as Keane and van Nistelrooy would often lead to highly contested sessions on the training ground, with some having to be brought to a premature end by Sir Alex Ferguson due to their vigour, according to podcast co-host David May.
“I think that’s what making teams successful, training how you play,” the former United defender explained.
“Some of the sessions, the gaffer would just cut short because they were getting that feisty but that’s only because of the intensity that you’d take out into games on a Saturday or a Sunday.”
But those sessions on the training ground were perfect preparation for a match day, admitted Ruud.
“Can you imagine the intensity if it’s so intense? That’s what you need to get the best out of the players, we knew we had to use it to prepare for the games,” he said.
“I never had an easy afternoon in the Premier League, so in training you have to get used to it.”