Defender Ferdinand had played with Van Nistelrooy for almost four seasons when the Dutchman started losing his squad under Ferguson, with the Scots prioritizing the talents of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney in attack.
In February 2006, Ferguson chose to leave Van Nistelrooy on the bench for the League Cup final against Wigan in Cardiff, Rooney, Ronaldo and Louis Saha all scoring in a 4-0 victory.
And Ferdinand says that when Van Nistelrooy failed to get out of the bench in this final, after apparently being promised an appearance, it was the final straw.
“When I signed, Ruud was the best man,” Ferdinand told The Beautiful Game podcast.
“His goals record was phenomenal, breaking records by scoring eight or nine consecutive Premier League games. He would have a chance and it was ‘bang, goal’. Ruthless.
“When he left, it was a bit like‘ wow, ok, what is the manager planning now? “
“I think the manager at that time was building the team around me, Rooney, Ronaldo and a few other players, so I think he just saw beyond Ruud van Nistelrooy, as much as he was a great scorer, to allow Rooney and Ronaldo to breathe a little more.
“It was a courageous call, but one that finally paid off because we started to dominate for a few years.
Mirror the best football stories
“I think one of the big catalysts for Ruud’s departure was the League Cup final (against Wigan).
“He did not start the match, but he said the manager had promised he would come. But he did not come.
“Ruud has gone mad. He was going crazy on the bench, shouting, swearing at the manager.
“I think the manager was like‘ you know what … ooh, now’s the time. ” [to move him on]. ”