by Nia Griffiths
Since Robin van Persie has joined Fenerbahce from Manchester United, he’s shed some light on his relationship with his ex-managers, Louis van Gaal and Arsene Wenger.
The striker, who left us at the height of his career in 2012 for pastures new, had some choice words about the Red Devils managers. However, he was full of praise for Wenger, even referring to him as his ‘football father’… Hang on, where does that ring a bell? Oh, that’s right.
The Dutchman described Wenger as a classy man who has a tremendous amount of respect for his players and provides footballers with the opportunity to thrive and feel like part of a family at Arsenal. He even likened him to Sir Alex Ferguson, which, although I’m sure was intended as a compliment, may not have sat right with the Frenchman.
“Arsene is my football father,” he said, while carefully trying to roll his forked tongue back inside his mouth. “He raised me from being a little kid, as a footballer. What he does, for players young and old, is create an environment where you feel the trust like one big family.”
He continued, “People think there was an argument between us. On the contrary, we always had a lot of respect for each other. We just had some different views at the time and I’m still talking to Arsene regularly now. He is a world class coach and manager and above all, a classy man. Trust, respect, that goes two ways. That’s what Arsène gives, what Sir Alex gives, that’s what the great managers give you.”
However, he wasn’t nearly as complimentary about his most recent ex-manager, van Gaal, saying, “I asked to play in the reserves, to get my minutes, but after was on the bench again. The atmosphere changed between me and Louis and people at the club saw it, but I was always professional.”
“But I was still thinking we could come back from holiday and start from scratch,” he admitted. “He had changed his mind about me before. When he took over Holland he said to me, ‘You’re the number three striker.’ I was, ‘okay’ but I fought and became the number one and his captain.”
He went on, ”But when I came back, it wasn’t an honest battle any more. Fighting to get back in the team wasn’t given me as an option. He was sending me to Pitch Two. And I’m a mature player. I’m not stupid. I didn’t get angry or emotional. These things are part of football, part of life. You have to make the best out of any situation so I’m doing this by moving on.”
We all know the story. Van Persie had a good season at United, won the title and then got injured. He only appeared in 31 matches last season, compared to the season he joined, where he featured in 48. The 31-year-old has now moved on to the Turkish league where I’m sure he’ll get the playing time he so desires.