Vol. 5 Num 156 Thu. October 28, 2004  

Nistelrooy admits being guilty

Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy accepted a Football Association (FA) charge of serious foul play and apologised to Arsenal's Ashley Cole for the reckless challenge which has left the Dutchman facing a three-game ban.

The incident took place during the first half of United's 2-0 victory at Old Trafford on Sunday that ended Arsenal's English top flight record 49-match unbeaten league run.

Van Nistelrooy's action sparked Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger's "cheat" jibe which in turn is said to have led to the fracas in the players' tunnel that ended with soup being thown over United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

Both these other incidents are also under investigation by the FA. Meanwhile their three-man panel will still review Thursday van Nistelrooy's challenge.

However, their verdict appears all but academic as United have publicly stated they expect the Dutch forward to serve a three-game ban.

That suspension could start with Tuesday's League Cup third-round tie at Crewe. If not, the ban will begin with Saturday's Premiership trip to Portsmouth, which is followed by the Old Trafford encounter with Manchester City on November 7.

The potential third match of the suspension would then either be a League Cup fourth-round tie or -- if United fail to beat Crewe at Gresty Road on Tuesday -- the high-profile trip to Newcastle on November 14.

"Ruud van Nistelrooy has decided to accept the FA's charge of misconduct relating to the incident with Ashley Cole," said a United statement on Tuesday.

"Ruud has accepted the automatic penalty of a three-match suspension, and Manchester United fully supports Ruud's decision."

Van Nistelrooy said: "Throughout my 10-year career I believe my disciplinary record is very good, not only for Manchester United but at all my previous clubs," he said.

"I accept the charge brought by the FA and I take full responsibility for this incident," added the striker who scored the first of United's two goals, a 73rd minute penalty, against Arsenal.

"However, there was no deliberate intent to harm Ashley Cole and I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to him."