Ruud van Nistelrooy says it’s good to have the real Manchester United back after a number of years of difficulties.
The Red Devils have started the Premier League season with three consecutive wins, scoring 10 goals without conceding, with new signings Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic earning rave reviews.
And Van Nistelrooy, who scored 150 goals in 219 games for United between 2001 and 2006, believes the feel-good factor being expressed by Jose Mourinho’s squad right now is proof that things are changing at the club.
“I think that’s part of United culture," the 41-year-old told reporters. "Maybe for a few years it wasn’t there – I saw that as well – but it’s great to see that back again. It was great to see them back winning the big trophies last year, and now they have built on a better squad and hopefully this year the football will join the trophies.”
The Dutchman admits that even in his most prolific days he might have found it difficult to score goals if given the kind of service United forwards have been provided over the past couple of years in a side which was difficult to watch under compatriot Louis van Gaal.
“Of course you depend on service, and now there’s a team that can create chances and can get you balls in the box as well, gets passes in, they can make your runs and get crosses in and that helps a lot.
“It was difficult [to watch previously], but it’s not easy to analyse why that is. But in the end it’s the quality of the players you have on the pitch, and this year – and last as well because they did very, very well last year as well – but this year they look even better.”
While Lukaku has scored four goals in his first four competitive appearances for the club, and Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba have all been among the goals, Van Nistelrooy says the form of the front line is simply reflective of the squad strength in general this season.
“Exactly, there’s creativity there, there’s passes there, there’s players who can move, who can finish. The full-backs are joining in, putting in the crosses as well, there’s a very strong block in the centre of the midfield and in the back, a strong goalkeeper… so yes, it’s a very complete squad at the moment. Zlatan is still there to join in, so yes they’re looking really strong.”
United return to league action on Saturday when they travel to Stoke City for a 17:30 BST kick-off, and then begin their Champions League campaign with the visit of Basel three days later.