Ferguson denies claiming 'Chelsea hell bent on ruining game'

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Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has distanced himself from claims that he attacked Chelsea's transfer policy during an after-dinner speech here.

It was alleged that Ferguson had suggested Chelsea were "hell bent on ruining football" with their big-spending ways. However, the Scotsman has denied making the comments, although he did express some concern at talk of the Blues recruiting massive numbers of African youngsters ­ one of whom, John Obi Mikel, Chelsea bought from United for £12m earlier this year.

"Chelsea have every right to do what is right for their club, just as we have every right to do what is right for us," he said. "I did not say their transfer policy was bad for the game. But, if it is correct they are going to sign 30 African boys, you have to wonder how they are all going to get a game."

Meanwhile, Ferguson is prepared to roll out the welcome mat for Ruud van Nistelrooy's return to training with United on Monday.

The Dutch striker's future has been the subject of speculation throughout the summer, with both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich linked with the 30-year-old.

A move at some point seemed inevitable, given Van Nistelrooy's end-of-season falling-out with Ferguson, who hardly played the forward through the latter stages of the campaign, then dropped him in favour of Giuseppe Rossi for the last game against Charlton.

That move prompted an angry response from Van Nistelrooy, which resulted in him being ejected from the team hotel, barred from playing in Roy Keane's testimonial three days later and, to all intents and purposes, closed the door on his Old Trafford career.

Real moved in once the World Cup was over and, with their new coach, Fabio Capello, confirming his interest in signing him, it was thought Van Nistelrooy would join Fabio Cannavaro and Emerson as incomers at the Bernabeu.

Instead, discussions have stalled over the fee, with Real refusing to meet United's £15m valuation.

Bayern remain hopeful of luring Van Nistelrooy ­ a fluent German speaker. However, no deal will be completed over the weekend, meaning that the striker is expected for the start of pre-season work.

"Ruud is not definitely leaving and I expect to see him at training on Monday," Ferguson said yesterday. "I spoke to David Gill [United's chief executive] on the phone yesterday and there is no development as far as Real Madrid is concerned.

"They have made an offer: we have rejected it. If they don't come back in and increase their offer, he won't be going and I would be content with that. It would not bother me one bit. He is a striker who can score upwards of 20 goals a season and there are not many of those going around."

United wrap up their three-match South Africa tour in the Vodacom Cup final against Kaizer Chiefs in Pretoria today ­ a rematch of the game between the sides in Cape Town on Tuesday, which United won with a late strike from Dong Fangzhou.