Manchester United: Robin Van Persie celebrates Ferguson, loves Arsenal’s Wenger but questions Van Gaal’s honesty
Fresh from Manchester United and welcomed to Fenerbahce by 18,000 delighted fans at Istanbul’s Sukru Saracoglu stadium, Robin van Persie tells the Sunday Times:
“I had other options [in Italy and Spain] but that’s why I chose Turkey. Football has to be fun. That’s my aim, to go back to that childhood love of the game.”
RVP loves to talk about his inner child. When he left Arsenal for a lot more money at United – he became United’s highest earner on £240,000 a week – the Dutchman opined:
“I always listen to the little boy inside of me in these situations – when you have to make the harder decisions in life. What does he want? That boy was screaming for Man United.”
Now the man is talking about leaving United for the tax haven to top tier Turkish football. Thoughts turn to Arsenal:
“Arsène is my football father. He raised me from being a little kid, as a footballer. What he does, for players young and old, is create an environment where you feel the trust like one big family.”
So why did he leave the family and the father?
“People think there was an argument between us.. On the contrary we always had a lot of respect for each other. We just had some different views at the time and I’m still talking to Arsene regularly now. He is a world class coach and manager and above all, a classy man.”
Class seems to play a large part in Van Persie’s appraisal of others.
Some Arsenal supporters will never forgive his United switch but maybe others now will. “Time heals,” he says, “but I understand. If you’re Arsenal captain and top scorer and move to United, fans will be upset. And not for one second have I been angry about that.”
Good of him.
Thoughts turn to Alex Ferguson:
Fergie always made you express yourself. Sometimes he’d come in and say, ‘Boys, where do I start? It’s boring! Imagine me, 72 years old, watching this kind of game?’
“He’d say, ‘Excite me. Try a pass over 40 metres. Try a dribble. I don’t care if it goes wrong. I want to sit on the edge of my chair. Please excite me. And make the game quicker, please.’ He was a genius.”
Now United have Van Gaal, with his clip boards and rules. Watching United’s record signing Angel Di Maria second guessing Van Gaal, turning off his intuition and attempting to follow the manager’s myriad directives last season was worrying.
“I asked to play in the reserves, to get my minutes, but after was on the bench again. The atmosphere changed between me and Louis and people at the club saw it, but I was always professional. At that point I didn’t think to leave. Bouchra was happy. The kids were happy. I was happy in Manchester…
“But when I came back [from the World Cup], it wasn’t an honest battle any more. Fighting to get back in the team wasn’t given me as an option..”
Maybe Van Gaal follows the voice of his own inner child?