Saturday 24 September 2016

Vardy has Van Nistelrooy's killer instinct, claims Van Gaal

Published 27/11/2015 | 10:21

Louis van Gaal's Manchester United side take on Premier League leaders Leicester on Saturday
Louis van Gaal's Manchester United side take on Premier League leaders Leicester on Saturday

Louis van Gaal believes there are similarities between Jamie Vardy and Ruud van Nistelrooy - the man whose record the Leicester striker is attempting to break this weekend.

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Vardy will break Van Nistelrooy's 12-year Premier League record on Saturday if he scores in his 11th consecutive match when the Foxes face Manchester United.

When Vardy was playing non-league football three-and-a-half years ago, few would have predicted he would have been likened to one of the greatest strikers seen on these shores in recent times.

Van Nistelrooy is the 11th highest scorer in United's 137-year history, netting 150 goals in 219 matches for the club.

The Dutchman won league titles in England, Spain and Holland, while Vardy's biggest achievement to date is helping Leicester get promoted to the Premier League in the summer of 2014.

But there is no sense of snobbery from Van Gaal when it comes to Vardy's recent scoring run.

"More or less, Van Nistelrooy is like Vardy," the United manager said.

"He is highly concentrated to make goals and is always running in behind, so you can compare them."

Van Gaal knows how hard it is to maintain such a prolific scoring run.

Dennis Bergkamp is the only man to have scored in 10 consecutive league games under the Dutchman - and his run came more than 20 years ago with Ajax.

He also knows first hand how deadly Vardy can be in front of goal.

The 28-year-old scored one and had a hand in the other four goals in Leicester's 5-3 win over United last season.

Van Gaal regards Vardy as a "nasty" threat, but one he feels his new and improved defence can cope with.

''He was last season a very nasty player for us,'' Van Gaal said.

''He scored, won a penalty, and now he is scoring 10 games in a row, then you are a great player.

''I only know Dennis Bergkamp as a player who did the same with Ajax. It's not so easy to do that.

"He is a player who is difficult to defend.

"It shall be difficult I think, but we can do that because we have a lot of clean sheets already."

Unlike Vardy, Wayne Rooney has struggled in front of goal so far this season.

During United's pre-season tour, the 30-year-old spoke of his determination to score more than 25 goals this season, but he has so far found the net on just two occasions in the league.

Van Gaal said earlier this season that Rooney's place in the starting XI was guaranteed because he is captain.

Even if he was not wearing the skipper's armband, Rooney would still be in the team, according to his manager.

Van Gaal said: "Yes, of course (that is the case). Otherwise he is out of the team.

"Wayne is doing a lot, has a very great contribution in the team. I am very satisfied with him."

Rooney started behind Anthony Martial in the number 10 position in the goalless draw against PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday, but the captain has been told his days leading the line are not numbered yet.

"At this moment, he doesn't play in the striker's position, Martial is playing there," Van Gaal said.

"But it is possible he shall play other matches there. It is dependent not always on the quality and shape of the player at the moment, but also the game plan. And we have to decide that every week."

Despite being second in the table after 13 matches, some United fans are unhappy with the style of football being played under Van Gaal.

Dissenting voices were heard again on Wednesday when United played out their fourth 0-0 draw in seven matches.

When asked whether he was worried about criticism from supporters, Van Gaal said: ''Of course, because the fans have to be happy, you are playing for the fans so you cannot deny that."

Van Gaal will be without Ander Herrera, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia for Saturday's game.

Press Association

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