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Robin van Persie
Gender Male
Ethnic Dutch
Job Dutch Football Coach
Desc The Dutchman is a contentious addition to any list of best Arsenal players after his acrimonious £24 million move to Manchester United, but there can be no doubting his world class ability. For three seasons, two in an Arsenal shirt, the former Feyenoord forward was firmly in the conversation as the finest out-and-out number nine on the planet


Org Dutch National Team
Club as Player Feyenoord
  Manchester United
  Arsenal FC

2009 09 13 Retrieve

[Van Persie accused Adebayor of executing a ‘mindless and malicious stamp’ on his face] He set out to hurt me. I do feel lucky that I have not received a greater injury. I knew he was aiming for a collision because he changed the angle of his body to allow contact to be made. The contact was only centimetres from my eye. I have not received an apology from him, there were no words exchanged afterwards. He had his own agenda

2011 11 23 Retrieve

[Prior to Saturday’s 2-1 win over Norwich City, which yielded two more Van Persie goals and yet another Walcott assist, the former Feyenoord striker spoke of the connection the duo shared] After every single goal, people ask me, ‘Who gave the assist?’ I just say, ‘Who do you think?’ We have that connection.

I know what he is going to do, which is very important. It’s vital to have a player around me, as a striker, who knows where I move, how I move, do I want the ball into feet, do I want it behind. He knows where to find me. Stuff like that is vital

2015 11 24 Tweet

[Robin van Persie admits he has not received an offer from Chelsea or Barcelona but insists he is devoted to Fenerbahce] There is a lot of talk about Chelsea and Barcelona but I have received no offers and I am dedicated to Fenerbahce

2015 12 29 Retrieve

[on Sir Alex Ferguson] My decision to come to Manchester was partly because of the presence of Ferguson, or excuse me, Sir Alex

2015 12 30 Retrieve

[on Sir Alex Ferguson] I played with him for one year but it was a very special year: we won the league! The road to that title was very special. I could tell he’s a really special manager. One little example: When we were 15 points ahead, it was in February or March - we lost against City. We could have gone 18 points clear but still we were in a very good position. He was very hard on us, very angry. He made everyone aware that everybody had to give their all. The training was very hard that week, he was almost punishing us. We were 15 points ahead! But that showed me he was a really good manager

2016 02 03 Retrieve

[On Dennis Bergkamp] When you see how he lives it’s a great example … he is fantastic on the pitch and off the pitch

2016 06 23 Retrieve

[on Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United] When I think of him as a footballer, Nemanja puts his head where other players are scared to put their feet. That’s Nemanja. At corners I’m always helping the defenders and he’s always close to me. I’ve seen him, time after time, diving with his head forward to block a ball. When I’m witnessing that, I’m scared for him. This is Nemanja. It’s unbelievable

2018 01 25 Tweet

[Robin van Persie on his new home] Amazing feeling 2be on the field again in our beautiful @Feyenoord shirt! Shame about the result,Sunday we go again! Thank u so much for the positive and supportive messages. To all of the supporters in the stadium last night, thank u for the warm welcome! #kippenvelmomentje

2018 10 27 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie revealed he is likely to hang up his boots with his current club Feyenoord at the end of the season] When I have to stop? That is probably at the end of this season. I will be 36 years old and will have been a professional for 18 years. From the age of five, I’ve only been involved in football

2019 05 26 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie has revealed the greatest compliment he ever received as a footballer came from Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp] Jurgen Klopp has given me the nicest of compliments, saying ‘I’ve never seen a player playing in three positions at the same time. I fell back in the game, went on the wings, was in front. The team adapted to my playing style, they’ve played for me so that’s the only reason I scored the goal and delivered an outstanding performance.

[Van Persie, who ended his playing days at the conclusion of the Eredivisie season, said how much he enjoyed watching Klopp’s team play] They play with four at the back and before that two blocks of three and those two blocks constantly cover each other at the back. It’s nice to see how that works together, there must be heaps of work, there is no other way. They have to trust each other, those players. If one goes, the others must be at his back, and another at his back. For Klopp, it must also be cool to see that his philosophy is really in that team

2019 08 03 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie has claimed Manchester United stepped away from the principles that made them successful after Sir Alex Ferguson retired as manager in 2013] A lot changed quickly after Ferguson, even the little things. Manchester United started to use social media, suddenly. It is their opinion, it is their club, they can do what they want, but you could see that a lot of things were moving and changing. Sir Alex was more old school. He said no to social media, we are football players and we play football, not too much commercial stuff. Then you could see there was more commercial stuff going on, there was more social media. I’m not saying that is bad because if you look around now, how the world is going, in a way it is a good connection as well because you can connect with your fans, but it was changing. They stepped away from what was successful, but maybe some people have been too harsh in their judgement of United since Ferguson left

[Van Persie believes United’s eagerness to change their managers since Ferguson’s departure has hampered the club in their efforts to develop an identity] How do you judge success? If you play for Manchester, the bar should be raised very high, but sometimes it is a little bit harsh because United did win some cups (since Ferguson retired). They did win the Europa League and just because they didn’t win the league for the last few years, that can happen. You have fantastic teams in Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal, so it is not easy. Do you judge them based on how they didn’t win the Premier League or do you judge them that they did win a few trophies over the years? Do you judge them that they don’t play attacking football enough? What is your measurement, how do you see it?

Manchester United should always play attacking football. They should play with wingers who create, will make something happen. Play with a No.10 in the Rooney-style role, who will create and score goals, box to box. That is my opinion, that is how I like to see it. That is what I want to see from all the top teams, but you have to realise there is only a certain amount of trophies available and you can’t win them all. I think if you look at City and Liverpool, how they play, you can see the philosophy of the coach. One year, you will win one trophy, the next you might win nothing, then the next you might win three, but if you play from that idea to play attacking football, that is what I see in Liverpool and City now and that should be a target of Manchester United as well. Not just trophies, but a philosophy and with Solskjaer now, I think they have that back. He wants to attack, he wants to shoot, he wants to create. Give him the time to develop the team

2019 08 04 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie says Alexis Sanchez has struggled at Manchester United because he is not happy] He doesn’t look very happy to me. He looked happy at Arsenal. He doesn’t look happy now. What I’ve seen and felt over the years is that how you feel mentally, how your life is, has a big influence’. If you’re happy, you’re 50 per cent fitter, you create more and you enjoy yourself… so he should find a way mentally to change that. It’s a different time. Over the past couple of years a lot has changed. There are a lot of impressions from fans, from social media, he is constantly getting hit about his wages. It’s negative, so he starts negative, and maybe that is difficult

[Sanchez was lured to United by Mourinho last year and the Portuguese boss was sacked in December amid poor results and criticism over his perceived brand of defensive football] For him it was difficult because he was coming into a defensive playing team. I came into a team with all the mature players there already: Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick. At Arsenal I was one of the older ones, captain, and here I could just come in and have fun, because the guys sorted all the other stuff beside it. Mentally, I was just having fun. I was happy, I was just enjoying it, really. I did not think about the consequences. I was not using social media back then, so I was not really bothered about what people said. When I went outside it was all positive so I was in my own little bubble of being happy

[Solskjaer was installed as interim manager in December before the United great signed a permanent deal in March as the club eventually finished sixth and 32 points off the pace] When you play for a club like Manchester United, the fans are used to attacking football and risks. I don’t really think the fans were disappointed about not winning the league. You can miss out on winning the league because you have great teams in this league. It’s maybe the way they played that the fans were not really happy with. United is like a beast. In a positive way, when you are doing well. It is so huge. It is fantastic, a great place to be. But when it goes wrong, when you’re having a bad period as a player or a coach, it’s tough. It’s a tough place, lots of pressure, everyone demanding not only a win, but they are demanding attacking football. 77,000 people want to be enjoying it.

2019 08 14 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie has revealed he had several chances to leave Arsenal before he finally quit to join Manchester United in 2012] You know that once you make a move like that, stuff like that happens. You have to take it on the chin and move on. You have to live with the consequences, you have to live with the choices you make and deal with them as a man. Don’t take it all too personally and don’t take yourself too seriously. This is my life, this is what I did and some people are happy with it, some people are not. That’s life. The first game against Arsenal was mentally tough. It was at home in Manchester and I scored after three minutes. That was a very mixed feeling at that time because it was so soon. Afterward, I played six or seven times [against Arsenal], but that’s [what happens] if you make a move like that

[The criticism that followed Van Persie as he gave up the Arsenal captain’s armband to join one of their great rivals soured his relationship with the club’s fans] Arsenal gave me the chance to play in the Premier League as a young kid when I was having a difficult time with Feyenoord. In my last period there, I was playing in the reserves. Arsenal saw something in me and they gave me that chance. It was a gamble from their point of view, an expensive gamble, and I took the chance with both hands. I stayed there for eight years, we had some great moments together and I’m still very proud of that period. I had chances to go before I left Arsenal. I could have gone to Italy, I could have gone to Spain, but I wasn’t really open to it. I extended my contract two or three times at Arsenal and I’m still behind [that decision], like I am still behind my move to Manchester

[Alexis Sanchez has scored just three Premier League goals for United] He is still a wonderful player, still a great player. He needs to find a way to be happy again. If you are happy, you want to create and have fun. He had that in his first couple of months from what I saw and he needs to find that again. He can still play, he is still a fantastic football player. He just doesn’t really look happy and the reason why this is… I don’t know. I can only guess, but from distance, he looks unhappy and he needs to find a way to be happy again

2019 08 17 Retrieve

[Dani Ceballos caught the eye on his full debut for Arsenal, with Robin van Persie billing him as ‘by far the best player on the pitch’ in their 2-1 win over Burnley] Ceballos was by far the best player on the pitch. He was making the game, creating, he wanted the ball constantly. He was just a joy to watch. He runs a lot. I think the stats tell you as well that he ran the most of all players, so that tells you that he’s alive, he’s there, he wants to play, he wants to create. He’s just a very positive player who’s having fun, you can see he’s having fun.

2019 08 18 Retrieve

[Former Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has elaborated on his controversial transfer from Arsenal in 2012, likening his Emirates Stadium exit to a husband separating from his wife] You can compare me being at Arsenal to being married. Me and my wife - Arsenal - were married for eight years. After eight years, my wife, possibly got a bit tired of me. Those are the facts. If Arsenal are not offering you a new deal… you can have different views on things but the fact is Arsenal never offered me a new deal. Then you have a look around. I was ambitious. I still wanted to win the league. That is life. I ended up having three options. One option abroad disappeared quickly. Then it was City or Manchester United. What people don’t know, during the transfer, loads of things are happening behind the scenes. You have to take a lot on and make a choice based on what your targets are but also deal with the facts. One of the main facts was that Arsenal got tired of me. That was the starting point - they didn’t offer me a new deal. We had loads of chats with Wenger, with [former Arsenal chief executive] Ivan Gazidis. They gave me no decision to make

2019 08 21 Retrieve

[Former Manchester United star Robin van Persie has backed Alexis Sanchez to recover from a nightmare spell at Old Trafford] He doesn’t look happy to me. I can’t properly judge it because I am not working with him but when I see him play I rarely see him smiling. Of course, I get it when you are playing you need to be serious and you want to win but after you score a goal you can smile, because that is the point of football. We all play football because we like it and if you like something you should smile

[Van Persie believes that the pressure of performing at Old Trafford can be too much even for players of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez’s ability] I think in the first couple of months after his move he was happy and he was playing well. Mentally he needs to find that happiness again because if you are happy then you are fitter, you want to create and you want to have fun. So I think he should find a way to be happier again. I don’t know if it’s the pressure. Pressure is something you can’t see or touch but he has to manage that in his head. But he is still the same great player. He has it all: he’s fast, he can assist, he can dribble, and he can score. There is just a lot of negativity around him from fans and people who have opinions on social media. Maybe it’s all become a little too much for him. He just needs to block it out, find his true happiness and just enjoy football

2019 10 01 Retrieve

[Former Arsenal and United striker Robin van Persie agreed with Schmeichel and believes Pogba needs to be allowed to play in between the lines to ensure the club get the most out of him] For him, the coach, for us, for everyone, it’s just important to choose a position. Choose where you think, and the coach thinks, he plays the best football for himself and for the team. I would play him not as a defensive midfielder, and not as a number 10 but in between - [the] number eight position. So, he still has his freedom, he’s not judged then on 20-plus goals a season, if he scores 10-plus goals, makes assists, everyone will look differently at him then, but it needs to be clear for everyone

2019 10 01b Retrieve

[Robin van Persie has criticised the tactics of Arsenal manager Unai Emery as his side played out a 1-1 draw in the Premier League with Manchester United at Old Trafford on Monday] Even though it’s away, it doesn’t matter, this is a big game. Just go at them and try to win the ball high, play in their half, play positive. I would like to see a better game plan. It is like in the first 25 minutes of the game, you could see they were dropping back a lot, quite deep. If you choose as a coach and as players to do that, it’s fine, but then you need to have runners. You need to have at least two runners once you get the ball which I didn’t see

2019 10 07 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s downbeat post-match interview after a damaging defeat at Newcastle is proof of how badly he is struggling at Manchester United] You can see he’s struggling there, if I’m really honest, during that interview. And I get it if you’re the manager of Manchester United during this period of time. So he’s searching for words, maybe he chose a few wrong ones there. Because as a player, what does that mean, ‘sorting the players’ heads out’, what does that mean?

If you’re a player you’re a little bit like, ‘my head is fine’. Even though you can see the players are low in confidence, he needs to find a way to reconnect again and to get their confidence high. As a manager, when you’re team is low in confidence get them up, when your team is too high in confidence, when they are becoming a little bit too much, you have to get them back to the middle again. At the moment, based on this interview, and based on what I’ve seen in the game, I’m not sure if he really knows how to find the buttons there

2019 10 16 Retrieve

[At home in the shadows between Henry and Patrick Vieira, Bergkamp was never the maestro of any one distinct fundamental. Yet when players speak about him, it’s like they’re attempting to analyse something other-worldly. A depth of understanding with a ball at his feet that, even to his fellow pros, felt hard to relate to] It was so beautiful. To me, it was plainly art

2019 10 24 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie says Nicolas Pepe will only get better for Arsenal following his Europa League heroics against Vitoria] I’m really happy for him. You can see what it does for him, even after the first free-kick. You could see he just became lively and happy, and he was making all sorts of movements and skills. Then it’s great for him, even to score the winner as well. The price tag doesn’t really matter. Whether it’s £72m or £5m, you just need a moment to show everyone, the Arsenal fans, here I am. This is his day, this is his moment. We’ve been waiting for it quite long but we could see he had stuff. We could see he was fast, we could see he was skillful. I’m pretty sure that after tonight you will see a different Pepe to the last couple of months

2019 10 24b Retrieve

[Robin van Persie has declared Arsenal are no better off under Unai Emery] I don’t think so. I don’t think that Emery really connects with his players. I think they’re still weak on set pieces, that was back in my time still a problem to be honest. Everyone should feel responsible. Do you play zone or do you play man on man? I think when you’re struggling you should play man on man, because then you just pick your man then you are responsible for your man. It’s a one on one fight.

Last weekend they again conceded from a corner kick. I said it a couple of weeks ago as well, Arsenal lose 12-15 points per season by set pieces and that should stop. You have to sort it out, you have to find away. You can see some players, and it’s not honest to judge the coach based on tonight, it’s based on the last couple of months and even the year before. As a player, you want to have that feeling you have to sprint back, and now you see a couple of players that jog back. There’s a danger there. If you have a very strong coach, and you’re in midfield, and you see there is danger somewhere, you will sprint for your life, because you know if you don’t do it you get punished

[Van Persie suggested Emery’s poor communication skills aren’t helping him make a positive mark at Arsenal] I’ve had Wenger, Louis van Gaal, [Sir Alex] Ferguson, so many coaches. Their main quality was to be clear. If I’m really honest, someone sent me a video of him [Emery] last week trying to explain something, and I couldn’t figure out if he was saying ‘come, come’ or ‘come!’. That is very important. You have to be clear, you have to be the leader and the leader needs to be clear towards his players

2019 10 30 Tweet

[Arsenal will wonder how on earth they are heading back to London with nothing, having led comfortably at more than one stage. Unai Emery’s side squandered leads of 3-1, 4-2 and 5-4, but were taken to a shootout by Divock Origi’s stoppage-time equaliser as a pulsating 90 minutes ended at 5-5. They then lost 5-4 on penalties] When two teams want to attack and have fun

2019 12 17 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie has suggested Mason Greenwood is copying his technique at Manchester United] I think he will be very good because during every game he tries to copy me. My style, my technique, my left foot, my way of finishing […] so, I’m sure he will end up there [like me]

2020 01 01 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie thinks Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is lacking the fear factor necessary to get the best out of his Manchester United team] You need a bit of fear for your coach. Yes, firstly, the game plan, but you need a bit of fear for your coach. If you have that, then you know that if you don’t make those runs, if you don’t play those balls, you will get punished. You won’t play the next game.

[When asked if this was missing under Solskjaer] Probably. By the looks of it, I think so, yeah

[Solskjaer has to find a greater consistency in performances] When I watched Man Utd play here last season in an FA Cup game, they had structure and I was thinking, ‘Woah, this is Man Utd’. I didn’t see those patterns [of play] or the idea that they’ve been told to do this, this is the pattern of play that happens. Today it looked very much like, ‘Get the ball to Martial and see what he can do’. That’s what it seemed like. I know a lot of the boys in that changing room, I’ve seen a lot of them grow up.

They’re kids who want to do well, they’re desperate to play, they’re desperate to be the best in their position, they’re desperate to do great in a Man Utd shirt. But it’s just not happening at the moment and that has got to be sorted out and the consistency is the biggest problem at the moment. I think he’s used 10 players under 22 this season. That’s a lot of young players. But they need consistency, they have got to find it somehow and that is the job of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

2020 01 01b Retrieve

[Former Arsenal and United striker Robin van Persie also added that the Gunners look far more content under their new manager] Everyone is happy, everyone is happy for the coach, for Mikel Arteta. They played as a team today, with and without the ball. They showed a lot of quality

2020 01 01c Retrieve

[Van Persie offers advice to Marcus Rashford amid Cristiano Ronaldo comparisons] I’ve seen so many players who want to be someone else, it doesn’t work. If you can learn bits and pieces, great. But don’t try to emulate or copy people

With Dennis Bergkamp for example, I saw him doing one session where he did a passing drill with the younger players. He didn’t make one mistake in 45 minutes, whereas I’d make 50 mistakes, sloppy mistakes. I had to change myself, the target was to be a top player. So along the way, you learn bits and pieces

2020 01 01d Retrieve

[Robin Van Persie urges Pogba to speak out on ‘mysterious’ Man Utd situation] It’s a bit mysterious to me. It’s not full answers from Ole, it’s always a grey area. I think it’s important that Paul speaks out himself and really says what he feels inside his body. Does he want to stay or does he want to go?

2020 01 21 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie says Manchester United will be looking to bring in another striker before the end of the January transfer window] I do believe that he’s [Solskjaer] not using those words, because otherwise you have the headlines and stuff, but I think they’re quite eager for a striker. Because they need one. Short-term, but long-term as well. I think it’s good to have competition at the club of the calibre of Manchester United. You need to have constant competition. So I’m pretty convinced that they are pretty eager to get a striker in

[Robin van Persie on Rashford’s injury] When I was about late 18 I made my debut, but before that I was playing with the reserves and the Under-19s, Saturday-Monday, Saturday-Monday for a couple of months. Then with the first team after I made my debut I played another six months, Sunday-Thursday, Sunday-Thursday. And then I had a similar injury, a stress fracture in my lower back. I was out with that for four months. You can’t really do much, you have to just rest and let it heal. But it is a difficult one because it always stays a little bit like a weak spot. Even now, it is not that I’m in pain or something, but it’s a sensitive area. So you have to be really careful with that. They will miss him so much. Like I said before, he is their MVP, their best player, creates the most, scores the most goals, even at that age. So it’s a big blow for Manchester United

Mason Greenwood’s very young. He’s still 18. It’s not honest towards him to let him live with all that kind of pressure to be the No.1 of Manchester United at that age. I think it’s better to give him time. He’s very talented, he’s very all-round. He can score goals, like he’s shown, I think he’s scored eight already. But I think it’s important for him to give him time

2020 01 25 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie has revealed Vincent Kompany tried to persuade him to come out of retirement and join him at Anderlecht this season] That was a wonderful evening. Old-fashioned enjoyment with only top players on the field. After 70 minutes I started getting pain everywhere, but I didn’t want to leave that field. The next day Kompany called me. He was convinced that I could help him with Anderlecht. I saw it as a nice compliment that he approached me, but I woke up that morning with pain in my calves and knew that I should not start it (playing) anymore

[Since hanging up his boots Van Persie has been spending more time with his family during the week while working as a TV pundit in England at weekends] I love doing that (punditry). I like to talk with love for the game, but I am not afraid to say negative things either. Not even when it comes to Arsenal and Manchester United. I would find that difficult at Feyenoord, because I know all these guys well, but that is why I consciously started working in England

2020 02 19 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie says Manchester United cannot keep changing their manager and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should be given time to prove his worth] Especially after Alex Ferguson left, everyone realised that it would be tough to stick to that level that Ferguson achieved for all of those years. I think everyone could see that. Now [David] Moyes has been there, [Louis] van Gaal, [Jose] Mourinho and Solskjaer. Ferguson took time to adjust and get to a certain level. I don’t think that it’s ideal for the club to keep changing the manager every one or two years. If you go for Solskjaer, go for him and give him time, that is what I think because the club needs to find some stability

Now they win against Chelsea and to be fair they had a good game. But you never know what’s going to happen in the next few games. It’s not consistent enough to be able to really play for the trophies. It is difficult because you have to compete against Liverpool, who are unbelievable and Manchester City, who are brilliant. Manchester City are not on the same level this year, but based on the last couple of years, they and Liverpool have been unbelievable. That is the level United have to go to, that is consistency, and that is the hardest thing in football because the league is tough. Even if you play against teams like Burnley away, teams like that are really difficult to get points against. You have to get everything right and that is a big challenge to get that consistency

Arsenal and Manchester surely are the favourites to win. Ajax were knocked out of the Champions League in a harsh manner. That is also part of the game, unfortunately. They also have a chance at winning the Europa League and have a very good squad too. In the Europa League, Premier League clubs tend to field a mix of players up until the knockout phase. From this point on, they tend to use their best 11. Up until now it’s been a mix between first-team players and substitutes. I think they are in it to win it. That is the way they should prepare because it is a great title that is up for grabs

2020 02 20 Retrieve

[Saka’s ‘world class’ Arsenal assist leads to Bergkamp comparison] That type of pass is like from Ryan Giggs, Dennis Bergkamp, Paul Scholes, ordering your striker to move into that danger zone, it’s world class. This is not simple but he makes it look easy. Only the great players can make those passes. This is a pass with an idea, with intent, and this is what you want from your players. He’s really taken his chance and it’s nice to see a young kid really grab his chance, to play for his future and do it so well

2020 02 20b Retrieve

[Robin van Persie says Bruno Fernandes’ performance in Manchester United’s 1-1 draw against Club Brugge was a joy to watch] He was unbelievable. With top players you can straight away tell he has something to add. He is silky on the ball, he has the pass, he has a nice cross and shot. So a joy to watch

2020 02 24 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie says Man Utd should sign goal machine Cavani] Edinson Cavani. I would definitely go for Cavani; he’s very fit, he’s a proven goalscorer, a goal machine, he has proven it at Napoli, PSG and Uruguay. With him, if he starts, he will get you 25 goals a season. I’ve watched him play, I’ve played against him, he is like a proper goalscorer. He lives by scoring goals so I’d go for him

[Van Persie feels another creative influence will be required] Maybe one midfielder in a playmaker role. Though to be fair I watched Bruno Fernandes against Chelsea and he looks very good to me, very silky. But I would add one other one to put next to him, then with one player who stops the opponent attacking, that is what I like to see. I like to play with five attacking, creative-minded players

2020 02 26 Retrieve

[How a Christmas dinner helped convince Van Persie that Mikel Arteta was a coach in the making] Yes, I did [see Arteta becoming a manager]. I played with him, if I’m correct, for one year. I was the captain for that year; he was our vice-captain. He was constantly talking about tactics, how we should play. He was really good in that way. He was a very good player, but he was constantly busy with the team, busy with the atmosphere, the whole team spirit thing was important to him. He invited all of us to his house for a Christmas dinner! He was already then acting like a coach

What I like about Mikel is that now, being a coach at Arsenal, a big plus is that he worked with Pep for a few years. There is no better college. He has been learning from Pep in the last three years as a coach, he played for Everton, he played for Arsenal, he had a nice career, and then had three years with Pep. That gives him an advantage as a coach. With him, you have the feeling that, if you look at Arsenal now, it’s going somewhere. He needs time, obviously, to bring his philosophy to the club. He comes across very well in interviews, before and after the game, and I think the Arsenal fans and everyone listening to him has the feeling that he’s going places

2020 02 26b Retrieve

[Van Persie tells Paul Pogba and Solskjaer to clarify Man Utd plans with joint interview] It’s very difficult. With Pogba, it’s an interesting situation. Pogba, in my opinion, is a world-class player, he has proven it over the years. He has it all. But first, I think with him, and that’s after a couple of years now, I think he should come out and he should say what his favourite position is. If that’s done, then people can judge him based on this position. Now, I don’t think people really know if he’s a six, if he’s a number 10… that’s a big difference.

I have the feeling people judge him a bit unfairly. They expect 20 goals, they expect 20 assists, they expect Pogba to make Manchester United champions. But, is he a six? If he’s a six, then you cannot expect 20 goals. If he’s a 10, maybe 12 to 15 goals. So, it’s not really fair on him because it’s not really clear.

Then, you have the second subject: is he happy there? There’s constantly rumours, you have the agent constantly giving interviews, you have the coach answering questions almost every day, every week. There’s a lot going on beside the main event, and the most important thing is football.

I know how it works, especially if you’re injured. People can’t judge you on your game, so they start to talk about other things. I think for Pogba, and Manchester, it would be best to … I don’t know, do an interview together or something, together with the coach, and just say, ‘Listen: this is what I want, this is where I would like to play - judge me on that. I’m happy, or I’m not happy, or whatever’. Now, it’s a lot of questions going around

2020 03 30 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie says Ferguson shamed two ‘aholes’ for partying after Man Utd defeat]</b> Coach Ferguson, he knew when to act, when for example to put pressure on with discipline. In my first season, we were 15 points ahead in the league, and we welcomed Manchester City, hoping to seal the title. If we won, we would be 18 points ahead, but we lost. This still left us 12 points ahead, and most managers would not have dramatised the situation. The boss on the other hand, he got fired up. It was really heated. Two guys from the team went out after the loss and, the day after the match, he had pictures of the two players posted on the dressing room walls from their night out . And he said to the whole team, ‘Ok guys, if we don’t win the title, know that it’s because of those two aholes that chose to go out’

Yeah, I have the names, but I really can’t give them. They got scolded by the coach, but it stayed in the dressing room. It was incredible. He had pasted lots of different photos, we had traced the evening of the two players hour by hour, 2am, 3am, 4am, as if to emphasise the extent of their stupidity. He didn’t stop there, he warned us all: ‘Guys, listen well, if we don’t win the championship, it’s because these two decided to go out and have fun. From now on, if I see a player come out before the trophy is lifted, that player is out of the team’.  He was ruthless. ‘I don’t care about who you are, how many trophies you’ve won so far. If you leave before the end of the season, you leave the team and I have you transferred’.  After that speech, we went to training, and it was the two hardest workouts of my life. Twelve points ahead and that’s his reaction. This time of the season was ideal for a rant, Sir Alex did not miss the opportunity

2020 03 30b Retrieve

[Former Manchester United striker Robin Van Persie believes Manchester United should try to sign Cavani] I would definitely go for Cavani [at Man Utd]; he’s very fit, he’s a proven goalscorer, a goal machine, he has proven it at Napoli, PSG and Uruguay. With him, if he starts, he will get you 25 goals a season. I’ve watched him play, I’ve played against him, he is like a proper goalscorer. He lives by scoring goals so I’d go for him

2020 04 01 Retrieve

[Man Utd gambled on star names like Pogba & Sanchez while Liverpool bought into Klopp’s project] If you compare it to Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp was appointed and players were selected who fit in with the football philosophy, not from marketing motives. They built the club on a coach’s sporting project. At Manchester United, they gamble on star names like Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez. That’s one way. It is risky. If such a player gets injured or does not fit, the whole team is vulnerable. While having a philosophy like Liverpool and not Manchester United creates enormous collective power. The challenge for Manchester United is to see if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can successfully establish a philosophy of his own.

Every player should aim for an environment that pushes you to the maximum. At Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson, there was an incredible daily urge to act. To go to Manchester United was like breaking through the glass ceiling, to make certain things possible. If United want to recover, they must give Solskjaer time and a real chance. Right now, Liverpool and Manchester City are one or two steps ahead of United. Why? Because they have built up a collective feeling that they want to go somewhere

2020 04 21 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie has opened up on his Manchester United exit five years ago] I had this chat with Louis van Gaal and he told me: ‘OK Robin, our ways will part. I’m the coach, you’re the player - you have to go, your time is up’. I was like: ‘Yeah but I still have a contract?’ He said: ‘I don’t care’. Ruthless. Towards the end of it, I saw something coming but not this ruthless. And the way he said it as well. And then a lot of things go through your mind when you get a message like that. I still had a contract, my family was happy, it was my 11th year in England. We love living in England. What’s next? My kids are going to school, they have their friends and everything. So in a split second, all these things come across [your mind]. How do you react to that? I said: ‘We will see what happens. That’s your opinion. But I have a contract and I’m happy in England at Manchester United. So we will see what happens’. And I stood up, shook his hand and left it.

[Van Persie went on to express regret over how he dealt with being left out of a training match by Van Gaal, as he opted to play the macho card instead of remaining cool over his situation] On the way home back I was thinking: ‘Okay, this is tough. How do you react to a message like that?’. That ruthless, that hard, that direct. And then loads of things came through my mind and we started pre-season. I wasn’t allowed to play in the 11 vs 11 and I was given a ball and told to do my own stuff. So you try to stay calm, stay cool but there’s loads of things happening. You’re playing the macho card. ‘It doesn’t affect me’ but it does. It does affect me, my family and my career. Big time. But I tried to stay cool, but maybe at that point it was good for me to talk to someone outside of my inner circle but I was too stubborn to do that. Now if I look back at it, there was a couple of points in my career where I should have done that

2020 04 22 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie says he wasn’t offered a new contract at Arsenal before making his sensational transfer to Manchester United] It was not only between me and Arsene Wenger, there was more happening with Ivan [Gazidis] of course and the way he behaved and the way he handled the whole situation. If I look back at that whole situation, I have to look at myself as well, where I could have done better or could have done something differently. That open letter… I shouldn’t have done that. In such a delicate, difficult situation of making a transfer after spending so much time at Arsenal, to make a decision to write an open letter to tell my truth in two pages was impossible. And partly it was the fact that Arsenal did not offer me a new deal. So if I look back at that, I should have done that better. I can promise you on my kids, if someone comes with proof that Arsenal offered me a deal, I will give you a million [pounds] now, today

[He says he offered up suggestions on how the club could improve going forward, but they weren’t well received by then Arsenal chief Ivan Gazidis] It was Arsenal’s decision not to offer me a deal and that is up to them. After many conversations it became clear that we had different ideas about the club. I had seven points where I thought Arsenal could improve and in my opinion those seven points they should start dealing with them straight away to be able to compete with the best teams. It doesn’t really matter what points they are, what matters is that Ivan decided that he didn’t agree with one single point of those seven points - which is fair enough. So taking that information on board, Arsenal doesn’t offer me a deal, they didn’t agree with my views - which were only to help, and honest views of how the club should move forward - that is a very clear message

2020 05 14 Retrieve

[Robin van Persie says Moyes not to blame for Manchester United struggles] We did struggle because we ended up being seventh. From such a high, we were thinking about winning the Champions League and moving on. It was a new period as well with Scholesey coming to the end, Giggsy taking a player/coach role. It was all new. Moyes was not to blame - anyone who came in after Ferguson, good luck to you. It was not only him to blame, it was us as well. The standards were so high but they dropped

That was a bit of a shock. Just before I signed, I literally had the pen in my hand and I said ‘One more thing Sir Alex, how much longer are you planning to stay?’ and he said ‘At least three more years’. To be fair the reason why he stopped was family reasons and family comes first. He was one of the big reasons I signed so it was a blow but then that is football. players come and go, managers too. He played 26 years and built the club up but that’s life

2020 06 28 Retrieve

[Arsenal lack mental strength to compete for trophies] What I believe is it is very important for Arsenal and for Mikel to find a way to fix the set pieces. Corners, set pieces, crosses, you’re always holding your breath and thinking: ‘Arsenal might concede’. You fix that with mental toughness. It’s like when I played with you [Ferdinand] and Vida [Nemanja Vidic], you would die to save the ball. You would put your head first, you would give everything to block the ball. That mentality is needed to compete for trophies. To be honest, I don’t really see that now and that’s not new either, we talked about this before and it was even an issue in my time there. You need to find defenders who want to do absolutely everything to block that ball. They should try to find those types of defenders. I’m not saying these guys are bad, but there is another level up if you want to win trophies.

If you play against David Luiz, I would go at him, almost try to bully him and to make physical contact with him and move around him, try to tease him a little bit because he is vulnerable. The first job you have to do is to defend, be solid and be trustworthy. If you have extra, you can dribble, do some nice passes, perfect. But he needs to focus on his job.