Robin van Persie ripped teammates for being in his space following Manchester United’s embarrassing 2-0 loss at Olympiakos on Tuesday.
In an Dutch TV channel NOS, van Persie explained: “Our fellow players are sometimes occupying the spaces I want to play in. And when I see that it makes it difficult for me to come to those spaces as well. So that forces me to adjust my runs, based on the position of my fellow players. And unfortunately, they’re often playing in my zones. I think that’s a shame.”
In the loss that manager David Moyes described as a “poor performance” and “the worst we have played in Europe,” United struggled for chances, registering only a single shot on target.
Van Persie himself spurned a wonderful late chance to change the complexion of the tie when he shook free of his defender but blasted well over the goal from seven yards out. It was a horrible miss from the Dutch striker, who easily could have slotted the ball to the side of Olympiakos netminder Roberto.
“I rushed that shot,” the 30-year-old said. “That’s a shame because I don’t get a lot of chances so when you get one, you have to score.”
Credit to van Persie for accepting responsibility on his miss but is he out of line for calling out his teammates?
Perhaps. Assuming the Dutchman’s teammates were in his space then venting his frustration is not unreasonable. Sure, it could’ve been done in private rather than a television interview, but van Persie’s decision to do so did not violate any sort of ethical code. This is a world class striker, after all.
Yet when put in context of the match, the comments do come off a bit misplaced. United didn’t lose that game because teammates got into van Persie’s space. United lost because the ball so rarely was in van Persie’s space. It was the same problem the Red Devils have been battling all year — the midfield remains void of the necessary energy, creativity and ideas to advance the ball up the pitch.
Sure, United missed Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj on Tuesday and those two are sure to play a major role at Old Trafford going forward. But a massive overhaul at Manchester United now feels inevitable.
Who will take the fall? And how many will go?