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United View: Van Nistelrooy set for Old Trafford return

Former Manchester United forward Ruud van Nistelrooy has been linked with a return to Old Trafford as it’s being reported the club have approached the Dutchman with a coaching position.

The reports came from high-profile football journalist Fabrizio Romano, suggesting the decision is down to van Nistelrooy after being considered by Burnley to become their new manager following Vincent Kompany’s departure to Bayern Munich.

The 47-year-old has been away from management for the past year following his stint as manager of PSV Eindhoven in 2022/23, where he won both the Johan Cruyff Shield and the KNVB Cup. In an impressive season where PSV finished 2nd with 89 goals scored.

Van Nistelrooy left his position with one game to play citing a lack of support from the club, leaving behind a talented young squad that went on to win the Eredivisie this season.

During his time at PSV, van Nistelrooy worked with a plethora of highly sought-after players, including Xavi Simons, Johan Bakayoko, Cody Gakpo and Manchester United target Jared Branthwaite.

The current Everton centre-back has spoken highly of his former manager, commending him for having faith in him during the second half of their season together.

This experience of working with younger players could support United’s vision of recruiting talented players to the club at the beginning of their careers. Hence why the club is exploring the possibility of bringing him on board.

And with Benni McCarthy’s contract expiring this summer, perhaps this could open the door for van Nistelrooy to replace the South African. Potentially joining Mitchell van der Gaag and Steve McClaren in the dugout with Erik ten Hag.

McCarthy was recruited by Erik ten Hag and the fact he hasn’t been given a new contract could show the relinquished power the manager now has under INEOS, who have already had a major clear-out behind the scenes at Old Trafford.

Given his history at Manchester United and showcasing his talents at coaching, it would make sense to bring in the Dutchman, which aligns with the minority owner’s ideology of ‘best in class.’

But would van Nistelrooy be open to returning to coaching under someone else rather than being the main man? He has worked as an assistant manager in the past with two spells for the Netherlands national team under Gus Hiddink and Ronald Koeman.

This was before his breakout year at PSV as the head coach and it’s hard to imagine that he will be short of job opportunities. For United, it would be a great appointment, but it is unforeseen whether they can lure the prolific Dutchman back to Old Trafford.

Elsewhere changes are being made around Carrington, with a £50 million project to ‘modernise’ the first team training complex. Architectural practice Foster + Partners are set to lead this project having previously worked on reshaping Wembley Stadium and the Lusail Stadium in Qatar.

Work has already begun and is projected to last throughout the 24/25 season, with new owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe wanting to create ‘a world-class environment for our teams to win.’ Also added that ‘standards had fallen below some of our peers’ following a review of the training ground upon his initial visit.

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