Slowly but surely, many are starting to see the positive changes Louis Van Gaal is bringing to Old Trafford after the turmoil that the Red Devils experienced under the stewardship of David Moyes.
On the basis of going through a transitional period – which you would never think would ever happen to United after the formidability of Sir Alex Ferguson – there are still weaknesses within the camp. Everybody is aware of the defensive frailties United have. The inexperienced Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair have played an unexpectedly significant role, as Van Gaal is well known for bringing through players from the academy.
But what about up front? With the likes of Wayne Rooney, Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie, goals shouldn’t be hard to come by, yet fourth placed United have been outscored by eighth placed Arsenal and ninth placed Everton so far. So why are United’s superstar strikers scoring less goals than expected? There’s no doubt Rooney is one of the best forwards in the world, and can easily perform on the biggest of stages in domestic, European and International competitions. Meanwhile, Falcao has had niggling injuries that has disrupted his life in a Manchester United shirt.
Injuries have also been a problem for Van Persie, but his performances have been so lacklustre it’s hard to tell if he is still playing at times in a match. The Van Persie of Arsenal is fading at a rapid rate of knots. With the Dutchman not getting any younger, is it time to move on the striker that has bagged a total of 147 Premier League goals?
Last weekend’s 2-1 win against Van Persie’s former club Arsenal was a prime example of why the 31 year old is losing his touch. Speaking of touch, the former Feyenoord frontman only managed to touch the ball 13 times in the whole match, the lowest by any Manchester United player in a decade and by far the lowest in the Premier League in a single game this season. As well as this incredible stat, Van Persie only managed two successful passes in the first half, with goalkeeper David De Gea making five more successful passes than the outfield player.
To say that Van Persie has lost his ‘swagger’ is one of the understatements of the year. The lethal left foot that once terrified the opposition is not so dangerous, and in some ways, defenders look forward to playing when Van Persie is in the starting XI, seeing it as an easy ride for 90 minutes – if Van Persie can even last that long.
After spending a staggering £150m in the summer on the likes of Angel di Maria, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Ander Herrera and with United being one of the biggest clubs in the world who have a worrying debt on their hands, selling Van Persie could be a wise decision. There is no doubt that there will be plenty of admirers in for Dutch captain, and his replacement his very unlikely to turn down the chance to join one of the biggest clubs around.