David Moyes will be taking advice from Robin van Persie about when he is ready and fit to play following a string of injuries this season in a bid to make sure he stays fully fit from now on.
Before his return last week against Cardiff City, Van Persie had missed United’s last 11 games and our form suffered in his absence but now that he is back, the team has been lifted.
The 30-year-old went through the whole of last season without getting injured but has struggled this year and Moyes’ decision to take advice directly from Van Persie could be an effective way to manage his fitness.
“I have taken Robin’s advice where he feels he is at,” Moyes said according to The Telegraph.
“I ask him if he is ready to play and how long does he feel he is able to play.
“All the things I am doing, I am taking from Robin. He is a player who is so important to us that I need to know exactly where he is at. Even the day he pulled his thigh against Newcastle [in December] we had said, ‘Are you better coming off the bench?’
“The other night [against Cardiff], we did OK, but I won because I had Robin van Persie in the team. He is somebody who can score, who can make a difference and get you a winning goal and we have missed that.
“We have missed that element where, when you are not quite at your best, somebody gets you the goal. We have not had that for three months now and it has been quite tough.”
While Moyes is certainly right to listen to Van Persie about when he is fit to play and for how long, there is an underlying danger that it could backfire.
Take United’s 1-0 loss to Newcastle. Moyes didn’t want to play Van Persie for the full 90 minutes in his comeback game in but when he shouted to ask if he wanted to be subbed, Van Persie said he was fine to continue. As it transpires, he wasn’t.
If United need a goal, Van Persie won’t tell Moyes to take him off even if he is in pain because he will want to score the goal. That’s what great goalscorers do.
In that scenario, Moyes needs to know when to take Van Persie off. Even if United needed a goal in a game, it is not worth the risk of losing Van Persie to another injury this season. We need him fully fit for the rest of the campaign.
Moyes’ decision to listen to Van Persie about his own fitness is certainly the right thing to do but Moyes has to make sure he knows when to step in and make the decision himself.