Fergie defends Ruud
By Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Sir Alex Ferguson has defended Man Utd striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.Sir Alex Ferguson has defended Ruud van Nistelrooy after the Manchester United striker accepted his punishment from The Football Association.
Van Nistelrooy pleaded guilty to a charge of serious foul play following his crude, high challenge on Ashley Cole during Sunday's defeat of Arsenal.
The Dutch hot shot's tackle on Cole brought heavy criticism from Gunners manager Arsene Wenger but Ferguson insists the incident was out of character.
Ferguson feels the club, and van Nistelrooy, have made the correct decision in taking the three-game suspension on the chin.
"Really, it was straightforward," said Ferguson. "There was no way to mitigate it, it was either three games or nothing.
"In the mood of The FA, there was obviously very little chance of them changing the decision.
"I think Ruud, himself, felt the tackle was a bit high but it was unfortunate as he's not that kind of player, it was uncharacteristic.
"He accepts responsibility and so does the club and now we have to move on."
In accepting the punishment, The FA confirmed van Nistelrooy's suspension commenced with immediate effect, meaning Tuesday's Carling Cup clash at Crewe Alexandra was the first game of the ban.
Van Nistelrooy will also now miss Saturday's Premiership game against Portsmouth and the derby against Manchester City but will be available for a tricky trip to Newcastle United.
His absence was not felt at Gresty Road as The Red Devils, fielding a completely changed team to the one which beat Arsenal, comfortably knocked Crewe out of the cup.
The 3-0 triumph presented Ferguson with the chance to hand debuts to Gerard Pique and Sylvain Ebanks-Blake as second half substitutes and the manager was pleased with the young duo.
He added: "It was very pleasing. I was going to bring Pique on anyway and it was good to bring him on so early.
"Pique played for half an hour and was excellent. I was very pleased with him, he's a very good young player.
"Blake showed enough in ten minutes that he's a player with some promise. It's terrific for them to play in these kind of games."