This post was produced a week ago already but due to crash of blog site, is only published now. Apologies…
Robin van Persie is seen as the reason why Man United won the 20est title in the EPL. Mancini said it months ago already, the Man City coach stating that if RVP would have picked the noisy neighbours, they would have run away with the title.
Scoring a hattrick in style with that blistering volley resulted in the local Manchester newspaper to award Van Persie with 20 out 10 (see pic).
A beautiful tribute to the man who came to Old Trafford with only one aim: to win silverware.
Sir Alex: “We had high expectations of Robin as he is clearly one of the world’s best but that he would be this good and would adapt so smoothly and quickly was a surprise to us all…”
The 29 year old is probably the most exciting striker (not counting Messi as a striker) on the planet today. And it didn’t look like this would happen, when RVP started his career in Rotterdam.
The son of an artist couple was always known to be “unadapted”. He spent most of his days playing football in the streets of Rotterdam, with lads like Luigi Bruins (ex-Feyenoord), El Hamdaoui (ex-Ajax and ex-Spurs) and Said Bouhatar ( ex-Feyenoord). Cocky, arrogant and oozing of talent.
He moved from his first club Excelsior to Feyenoord when 14 years old, as a result of a ‘situation’ between his youth coach and his mom. At Feyenoord, the youngster developed into a successful playmaker, only to allow Raf van der Vaart to eclips him in the pecking order in the Oranje youth teams.
His name went round in Rotterdam, amongst Feyenoord fans and I saw him make his debut in the first team at 17 years old, as a winger. He was fast, full of trickery and with a beautiful left foot. Lanky, gutsy and very confident. The problem with RVP in those days, was that everyone around him saw him as the biggest talent Feyenoord ever developed and told him so, day and night. His parents didn’t “get” football and were not able to ground him.
This resulted in that infamous row with Pierre van Hooijdonk on the pitch. It was against RKC. Feyenoord was 1-0 down. RVP came on in the second half.
Van Hooijdonk: “The hierarchy was crystal clear. I was the set piece man. Whenever I didn’t feel it was my angle or distance, I could appoint another player. When Robin took the ball and repositioned it a bit, I thought he was trying to confuse the wall. And I expected him to take the run and step over the ball. To my horror, he hit the ball. I was furious. I couldn’t repeat here what I said to him. Van Marwijk was flabbergasted!”
The Feyenoord coach was never able to control the youngster. Another low in their relationship was the Super Cup game between Feyenoord – UEFA Cup winners – and Real Madrid (CL winners). This was clearly a game RVP relished but Bert used this game to punish Van Persie for his lacklustre performances and excluded the winger from the squad.
Something broke and RVP knew his future would not be in Rotterdam, as he was not “valued” as he should have been. In those days, there were not takers though. Most clubs seemed to think he was poison. Guus Hiddink and PSV and Wenger and Arsenal informed in the winter of 2004 but it wouldn’t be until the spring of 2004 that Arsenal decided to sign him. Wenger knew of Van Persie’s talents and was adamant to have his “assistants” (Henry, Bergkamp, Adams) to educate the youngster.
Van Persie knew he has to adapt. He was no longer the protected lad in a club he knew well. He was now a no-name in a big football nation in a club with players that would eat him for breakfast.
He changed. He worked hard. He listened and he learned.
And when his mentors Bergkamp and Henry left and other top talents like Nasri and Fabregas departed, Robin took the leadership role. With responsibility, his egotistical personality changed into the personality of a leader, a role model…a guy delivering the goods.
Funnily enough, his injury proneness also changed. In his first years, he wasn’t able to stay fit for longer than a couple of months, over the last years he has been fit like Superman.
Robin will probably have 3 more great seasons in him. And once age starts to hit him, he is a player that can play one line back without a problem. Maybe Ryan Giggs will inspire him to play for another 10 years in a playmaker role from the back?
Sir Alex names Robin in the same sentence as David Beckham, Eric Cantona and Ruud van Nistelrooy. ManU Legends. A wonderful honour, when you take into account his first season hasn’t even ended yet.
What does tickle the mind of the Dutch National Team fan is, how can we make sure he performs at this level in the orange jersey??
His Oranje career was a bit stop and start? Was it Bert van Marwijk’s influence? Was it the fact that wasn’t always used as a striker? Was it the dreaded hierarchy again (Raf and Wes vs Robin)?
Fact is, he never shone as he does and did with Arsenal/Man U.
Under San Marco, he has a good two games at the WC2006. An assist on Robben and a scorching goal from a free kick.
In 2008, coming back from injury, he scored and was important, but still in the shadow of Sneijder, Van Nistelrooy, Van der Sar and Kuyt.
In 2010, he scored one goal. As a striker. In a campaign that took us to the finals. The main roles were for Sneijder and Robben. The most memorable image of Van Persie of that tournament was his complaining and whinging with Van Marwijk for being subbed…
Did Robben and Van der Vaart cramp his space when playing as wingers? Did Sneijder ignore Van Persie and only try to find Robben? Was it the Bert van Marwijk connection?
In 2012, the main image is that of Van Persie missing the ball completely against Denmark. Holland had at least 20 chances and the top forwards of Arsenal and Bayern Munich were not able to score.
RVP did score a great goal with his right against Germany and had a good chance to score a second even…. But other than that ( and other than an ok game as shadow striker vs Portugal behind Klaas Jan), the 2012 campaign was a disaster.
So, with Wenger and Sir Alex getting the best out of him and Bert van Marwijk not being able to do so (twice), it might be that our new coach Van Gaal is capable of making RVP important.
Making him the first name on the team sheet. With Sneijder not at his best and with Robben instructed to keep the playing field wide, we might see a different Van Persie.
His connection with Raf on the playmaker spot was quite good in recent matches (the two highly respect one another) and we saw some good interplay between Robben and Robin and RVP and Maher in recent games too.
Lets hope Van Gaal knows how to “touch” RVP like Wenger and Sir Alex have clearly done. And with a more dynamic player behind RVP (sorry Wes), we might see the interplay Robin so desperately needs. With Maher and Van der Vaart, we seem to have those players and I have personally not given up yet on Afellay either.
Lets hope that RVP20 is capable of working his magic even when he’s 30 years old.
And lets hope he will win us the World Cup title (with the other 22 players of course) next summer.