Ruud’s recent interview got me thinking – what if Ruud van Nistelrooy had stayed at Manchester United?
How different would things be, and where would Manchester United be right now in the league and other competitions?
Football fans are by nature fickle, so I won’t be surprised if the same people who so blindly supported Ruud against all criticisms will now turn on him and regurgitate the drivel fed to them by the media that Manchester United look a better team without him.
That’s not entirely true – Manchester United look a better team not because Ruud left, but because they sorted their defence out and got a quality passing player playing for them in midfield. Vidic and Carrick have done more for Manchester United this season than Louis Saha, Ruud’s successor, ever could.
So let’s play the ‘what if’ game, shall we?
If Ruud were around…
- Carling Cup: Manchester United would probably have played Arsenal in the semis. No telling what would happened then, but I’d wager we could have won.
- Champions League: No way would we have lost to Celtic and Copenhagen, where our movement in the final third and our poor finishing cost us dear. Ruud can hold his nerve, Saha cannot.
- FA Cup: Would Ruud have missed the chances Saha and Park missed on Saturday against Reading?
- Premiership: Apart from the Chelsea game, every game that we’ve dropped points in (loss or draw) would have had different results with Ruud around. Ruud against West Ham, or even home and away against Arsenal?
Ruud’s intelligence in the final third, his finishing and his ability to find that extra yard of pace when necessary make him a far better striker than Louis Saha. We missed him in those games, and we’ll probably miss him again before the end of the season.
Pound for pound, Ruud was a better striker.
What if Ruud hadn’t blown his top at Ferguson?
What if Ruud had learned to play more for the team and adapted to the new system Ferguson was developing?
What if Ferguson had kept faith in Ruud despite the spat?
What if indeed…