We are on an interesting T-junction. I am not talking the economic crisis. Or the situation in the Middle East and Iran. Neither the GMO foods that are invading our supermarkets, nor am I referring to the recent floods in my hometown.
I’m talking Oranje. Of course.
We have Sneijder yet to show his level after months being sidelined. Will Raf van der Vaart be able to catch on to our pace? Is Robben ever match fit for a longer period? Do we really need Nigel de Jong now we also have Fer, Clasie, Van Ginkel and Anita?
But we still have at least one Superstar. The 29 year old Robin van Persie is one of the best players on the planet and according to recent statistics, the most lethal striker in the world. Even more lethal than one Leo Messi.
Sir Alex Ferguson never forks out big money for players older than 25 years old. He signs them young (C Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Phil Jones). Or he gets them cheap (Henke Larsson, Michael Owen). Only once in a Blue Moon (pardon the pun), he takes out his check book for a special player. He did it for Eric Cantona. And he has done it for Robin. 26 Mio euros for a player who will most likely not be sold with a profit.
And while signing him, Sir Alex mused about that Eric Cantona era, saying Robin van Persie would most likely do for his team what Cantona did for the team back then.
When the enigmatic French player joined United in 1992, he did give Man United a lot. Goals, sure. Intelligence. But most importantly: personality, charisma and class. This turned the Red Devils from a very good team into an unbeatable side.
Cantona was the cherry on the cake and became one of the first superstars in the EPL.
Just like Cantona, Van Persie is a mature, balanced player. Not a lot Sir Alex or Meulensteen will be able to add to him. And both players are heralded for their impact in the dressing room. Van Persie is complimented on his “glue-factor” off the pitch. Both Cantona and Van Persie will always give attention and energy to the club people behind the scenes. The material manager, the cleaning staff, the kitchen people, the secretaries… And Van Persie comes in, with a focus. To win trophies. Many trophies. A total pro.
Ryan Giggs: “Whenever a finished product, a world class finished product, comes into the team, it lifts everything and everyone. With Robin, that is so clear.”
Van Persie said the same, but vice versa. “Arsenal is a fantastic club. But I needed a new challenge. When I came to Arsenal, I was in awe. I looked at Henry, at Bergkamp, I followed them, watched them to their thing and it was addictive. I wanted to do what they did. They set the standard and showed me what it is to be a pro player. At Arsenal, I missed that inspiration, at a certain point. I needed a new environment. At Man United, I see that again. I see players focusing to the max and doing everything they can to be world class. Giggs, Scholes, Rooney, Vidic, Evra… Highly inspiring. I feel like a kid in the candy store again…”
And this kid needs an Oranje candy store around him soon. The man who can score whenever he wants doesn’t seem to be able to do so with the Dutch lion on his chest.
I still wake up screaming with images of RVP missing the ball vs Denmark if I had too much red meat at dinner….
He never really delivered for Oranje. But it can’t be his fault.
Watch the high lights of his first season at Man United and it’s clear. RVP can score from any angle, with both feet, head, backheel, chest, arse, it doesn’t matter. But he needs to be the focus of the team.
Even with 10 mediocre players playing in service of him, we should be able to beat at least 98% of all opponents.
So, mr Van Gaal. This is the time.
We have one of the best players in the world, in top form, in our squad.
Talk to him. Ask him how he would play. Forget systems, forget 4-3-3. How does Man United play? Is it 4-5-1? Is it 4-2-4? Who cares?
If fit, Robben and Afellay should be names to select. Van der Vaart and Sneijder will have to prove themselves again (in my book). With all due respect.
Other than that, we have some players who could do the job on the wing. Narsingh, Lens, Elia, Schaken, Boerrigter, Boetius…. (who cares, really).
We have Maher, Fer, De Guzman, Siem de Jong, Anita, Theo Janssen, Clasie, Strootman, Vilhena, Van Ginkel in midfield….
And Blind, Janmaat, BMI, De Vrij, Willems, Van Rhijn, Vlaar etc at the back.
And wonderful goal talent in Vorm, Krul, Vermeer, Zoet, Mulder…. Really…
Van Gaal’s job is not that hard….
( Used some insights from the great Willem van Hanegem)