The Arsenal striker was furious with his manager as he was substituted 10 minutes before the end of their 2-1 victory over Slovakia. The 26-year-old reportedly shouted to van Marwijk that teammate Wesley Sneijder should have been replaced instead of him; van Persie denied these claims however he didn’t celebrate when Sneijder later scored. Then the manager seemed to confirm that there was indeed ill feeling between his two players when he told the press:
“I will never accept anything that could upset the next match, I spoke to Robin and he is supposed to have said something about Wesley. I’ve spoken to Wesley and after that I called the team together … told them what I think and then drew a line under it.”
Bert van Marwijk is clearly doing his best to ensure that his squad isn’t disrupted by Van Persie’s petulant act. This isn’t the first time that Van Marwijk and Van Persie have clashed, Van Marwijk was Van Persie’s manager at Feyenoord and the striker caused so many rifts with his manager on so many occasions. Firstly he was demoted to the reserve team as a result of their disagreement; Van Marwijk saying at the time:
“His behaviour made it impossible for him to remain in the squad any longer so he will join the reserve side for the time being.”
Then on the eve of the 2002 UEFA Super Cup final between Feyenoord and Real Madrid, Van Persie was sent home after Van Marwijk decided that his attitude had been poor when asked to warm up in a previous league game. His deteriorating relationship with his coach led to him spending a lot his time at the club on the bench. They tried to sell him before his last season at the club but found few teams were willing to take a chance on him due to his disciplinary problems. Eventually Arsenal agreed to sign van Persie in Janurary 2004 for £2.75m, and the Rotterdam club were desperate to get rid of him as they paid just over half of the original asking price of £5m.
The fact that Van Marwijk has been able to forgive van Persie for his previously obnoxious behaviour should be applauded, but Van Persie doesn’t seem to have changed his ways after arrogantly claiming after the game that he did nothing wrong.
The Arsenal forward said: “What I said to Van Marwijk was not over the top, I wanted to finish the game. I thought they would take risks in the last 10 minutes and I wanted to exploit that.”
He added: “I could see spaces opening up and I wanted to use them, so I was a bit shocked when I had to go off.”
Whether or not Van Persie was right about Slovakia’s tactics is irrelevant as the coach is the one who makes the final decision, and if he thought the team would benefit from Van Persie coming off then it is up to him and not Van Persie. The striker needs to grow up and realise that he is at a World Cup finals and his behaviour is not acceptable as it could heavily disrupt the squad. Holland have a talented side that could win the World Cup but it’s not going to happen unless the whole team are united and Van Persie needs to understand that.