EXCLUSIVE: The facts behind Ruud's walk-out
Monday, 8 May 22:42 BST
Setanta Sports can EXCLUSIVELY reveal the story behind the bust-up that saw Ruud van Nistelrooy dropped from the Manchester United team to face Charlton, a bust-up that could well presage the end of the Dutchman's Old Trafford career.
Speaking to Daire O'Brien on Setanta Sports' The Hub, European Soccer Correspondent Graeme Hunter explained the incident that caused Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to drop his star striker.
"In January, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo, who literally cannot stand the sight of each other, traded punches in training, and van Nistelrooy left Ronaldo with a broken face," Hunter explained.
"On Sunday, van Nistelrooy was not named in the Manchester United team, and as we all now know, he walks out.
"The roots are from a serious bust-up on the training pitch the day before, over a perennial row between the two. Ronaldo held onto the ball too long in training, and van Nistelrooy asked again: "Why do you keep onto the ball, why don't you pass to me? I am in position, I am the striker. Get the ball to me."
Hunter went on: "Ronaldo gives van Nistelrooy some lip, it ends up in a fight, and van Nistelrooy as he always does, needles into Ronaldo, and says "Yeah, yeah, go running to your Dad."
"He means Carlos Quieroz, Ferguson's assistant. Ronaldo's own father had died during the season, and finally, in the face of this abuse, Ronaldo burst into tears on the pitch and shouts "I don't have a Dad, he's dead."
This is the incident Sir Alex Ferguson spoke of after the game on Sunday when talked about a need to keep "team unity" at the club.
However, Hunter is not so keen to write off van Nistelrooy's Old Trafford career just yet.
"It is not necessarily the end for van Nistelrooy, because he is the goalscorer, and Ferguson still wants four strikers at the club.
"What Sir Alex may not know is that Cristiano Ronaldo is dead set on leaving Manchester United this summer, if Madrid will buy him. He personally has had enough of Manchester United, and English football. So, it may be that we are left with Ronaldo saying that he wants to go, and that van Nistelrooy and Ferguson may make their peace."