It seems emotions are running high at Manchester United, unsurprising given the manner of their capitulation at the hands of Olympiakos last night. Piraeus isn’t the easiest of places to visit at the best of times, but the Premier League champions did their best to make things as hard as possible.
With a midfield seemingly bereft of any quality, and with on loan Arsenal Forward Joel Campbell making a mockery of the defence, this was very much a night to forget for the Red Devils.
Yet it isn’t easy to brush this result to one side, because it is starting to become worryingly like the norm for United. Moyes has managed to blunt on paper one of the best strike partnerships in world football and it is unsurprising that fans want an answer.
It seems it isn’t just the fans that want reasons, star man Robin van Persie was quick to give his take on the game speaking to Dutch TV channel NOS after the game:
“Our fellow players are sometimes occupying the spaces I want to play in and when I see that, it makes it difficult for me to come to those spaces as well. So that forces me to adjust my runs, based on the position of my fellow players and, unfortunately, they are often playing in my zones. I think that’s a shame.”
The problem for United at the moment is they are a long way from the team ethics instilled under Ferguson; they now maybe have a couple of world-class players scattered across a squad of relative mediocrity. It is clear from van Persie’s remarks that he thinks the team should focus on feeding him and getting the best out of him. The fact the likes of Kagawa and Cleverley failed to complete a single pass to the frontman highlights the problem, United’s two best players were isolated last night and ineffective.
It may have been a frustrating night for van Persie but when his chance did come he blew it, blazing horribly over the bar. He had the following explanation for the miss:
“I rushed that shot [to make it 2-1 late in the game]’, Van Persie admitted. That’s a shame because I don’t get a lot of chances, so when you get one, you have to score.”
Van Persie may be United’s star man but so far this season he has been largely underwhelming and more disappointingly seemingly unwilling to put himself around like his strike partner Rooney. Top strikers when they are isolated capitalise on the opportunities they have, and to say the Dutchman’s miss was disappointing is an understatement.
The frontman is fast becoming the kind of unsettling influence you just don’t need at United presently. Van Persie has a track record of jumping ship when he doesn’t feel a team are performing to his level, and rather than help United recover he seems bent on undermining.
You can bang on about Rooney’s wages as much as you like, but the Englishman has the heart to fight to the bitter end, something that just isn’t true of Van Persie.
Maybe if he was playing a little better and showing a little more commitment you can take van Persie’s comments lightly, but at the moment it would be advisable for the Dutchman to just focus on his own game rather than criticising those around him.
It may be a cynical way of looking at things, but van Persie’s outburst may just be his way of opening up an Old Trafford escape. The Dutchman is still undoubtedly a top striker, but hardly a man to bank on when the going gets tough. It is a strange thing to say but given their recent troubles United may be better off without someone that doesn’t seem to be overly committed.
Is van Persie just saying what we already think, or has he overstepped the mark?