Van Nistelrooy says he felt 'stabbed' by Ferguson

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The Independent Football

Ruud van Nistelrooy has said that he felt like he had been "stabbed" after being frozen out by Sir Alex Ferguson. The striker moved to Real Madrid for £12m in the close-season after a series of rows with the Manchester United manager. But the 30-year-old Dutchman said that the pain of his omission from the Carling Cup final line-up was the final straw for his working relationship with Ferguson.

"I had a good relationship with Ferguson in the beginning, but when he left me on the bench for 90 minutes in the Carling Cup final it felt like I had been stabbed," Van Nistelrooy said. "Last season was fine for the first three-quarters, but I want to forget about the last part.

"Things with Ferguson weren't like they used to be and it became difficult for us both to work together."

Van Nistelrooy aimed another swipe at Ferguson by claiming that he was now happier than ever having quit Old Trafford for Madrid. He said: "I feel like I have been here for 20 years and moving here is the best thing that has happened in my life. Being at Madrid is fantastic. The people are wonderful and that is a massive thing for me.

"From the outside, people only see great stars and glamour, but all I have found is simple people - from the players through to the directors. The atmosphere at training is perfect and it's just wonderful to be here. You only get one opportunity in life to come to Real Madrid and I will retire here."

Despite scoring 150 goals in five years at United, the Dutchman failed to win the Champions' League at Old Trafford. But he believes that he can realise his ambition with the Spanish side. "I want to win the Champions' League and many more trophies," he said. "I won four trophies at United, but I want more and Madrid have given me a new challenge."

Ferguson, meanwhile, believes that Everton's move for the England striker Andy Johnson could prove the signing of the summer.

The United manager considers the £8.6m move by Everton for the former Crystal Palace player to be good business. He also warned that his side would have to be wary of the threat of Dimitar Berbatov if the Tottenham striker is fit for the match at Old Trafford on Saturday.

"Andy Johnson will definitely help Everton," Sir Alex said. "He's quick and always on the move and he'll get them a few penalties this season. I reckon he'll score upwards of 15 for Everton this season and will prove to be a really good signing.

"Berbatov may prove to be a good signing for Tottenham. We watched him quite a bit at Bayer Leverkusen and he's a really good player.

"And I think Wigan will get a bit of joy out of Emile Heskey this season. I don't think he has ever quite realised his potential at Liverpool or Birmingham, but it may be different at a smaller club like Wigan, if he could recover the form he showed at Leicester where he was the main player," Ferguson said.

* The Rangers goalkeeper Lionel Letizi expects to return from a calf injury for the Scottish Premier League game against Falkirk on Saturday. The 33-year-old summer signing from Paris St Germain missed Rangers' last match at Kilmarnock with a muscle injury, but has been given the all-clear and now hopes to dislodge the young goalkeeper Allan McGregor.