Robin van Persie of 2012/13 is a player who would be one of the first names on your team sheet.
Robin van Persie of 2013/14 is a player who would still be one of the first names on your team sheet. Sure he isn’t in the best of form but it’s Van Persie, he’ll come good.
Robin van Persie of 2014/15 is a player who shouldn’t be one of the first names on your team sheet.
It’s been a slow regression for the Dutchman who has been on a steady decline ever since Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United.
Under David Moyes, he was a shadow of the man who scored 30 goals in his debut season to spearhead United to the Premier League title but many thought the Van Persie of old would return under his compatriot Louis van Gaal. Seemingly, so did Van Persie.
United’s attacking flair may be back but Van Persie has about as much spark as a bucket of pond water right now. He is anything but back. In many respects, he has got worse.
While Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao are buzzing round, making space, looking for the ball, Van Persie is lumbering like a disinterested labrador unwilling to play fetch. It’s like the second coming of Dimitar Berbatov.
By Louis van Gaal‘s own mantra, Van Persie doesn’t deserve a place in his starting XI right now.
“Nobody is walking back in my team,” Van Gaal said when asked about whether the likes of Wayne Rooney would be guaranteed a place in the team on their return.
“You have to earn it on the training ground – every player knows that.
“I have great respect for the players I use at this moment and I have also the confidence in these players.”
It doesn’t matter if Van Persie is spilling his guts out on the training pitch because that isn’t translating into matches. Right now, Van Persie is a hindrance to the team more than anything else. Fans have waited patiently for him to regain his fitness after an extended break post-World Cup but November is around the corner and Van Persie is still playing laboured football.
Sure, it’s probably unlikely that Van Gaal will drop Van Persie for the games against Chelsea or Manchester City and hopefully the Dutchman can shake off all the cobwebs but if he fails to perform in those games yet continues to be picked, Van Gaal is undermining his own words about players earning their place in his side.