The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nistelrooy form the deciding factor: Alex

Manchester: Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has credited striker Ruud van Nistelrooy for making the difference between his side winning the Premier League and rivals Arsenal finishing as runners-up.

Leading his side’s late surge to the title, the Dutch striker scored 14 goals in United’s last nine games to take his tally for the season to 43.

“I think Ruud van Nistelrooy’s form has without question been the deciding factor,” Ferguson told the Manchester United website on Monday.

“When a centre-forward like that scores the number of goals in the important games that he has, it has to be the difference between the two teams.

“I knew he was going to become a great player. But I didn’t know quite how good he was going to become, I must say that, because he has surprised me almost every week.”

Ferguson said he was delighted to have put his retirement plans on hold as he enjoyed the enthralling battle with Arsenal.

“When anyone loses a title, particularly one that was in their (Arsenal’s) grasp for a long time, I think it will be a big disappointment to them,” Ferguson added.

“But the battle’s over. We expect them to be challengers next year and we look forward to that because I think from my own personal situation, I feel that my decision to not retire is the best decision I’ve probably made.”

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