Arsenal fans accused Robin van Persie of being a “mercenary” when he left the Emirates. The truth is, as he himself said, he left for reasons purely related to football. He could have joined Manchester City in the summer of 2012 and chances are he would have won the title with them as well, but would have been earning considerably more money than at United. He wanted to play for this country’s most successful-ever club and write his name in to the history book though.
His first season couldn’t have gone much better with him avoiding injury all season and being awarded the Golden Boot for the second consecutive season. Van Persie hadn’t won a trophy for eight years and it showed. He didn’t want to leave the pitch when taking part in the lap of honour and when the team paraded the trophy around Manchester he looked deliriously happy.
Van Persie’s second season hasn’t gone according to plan though, with some blaming David Moyes for overtraining the Dutchman. He has played in less than half of our league games this season and Moyes won't give a clear date for when he will return.
He traveled for treatment to Holland, was in the stands for United’s 2-0 victory over Swansea and has returned to training at Carrington, but we don't know when he will make an appearance on the pitch again.
In Van Persie’s absence, Danny Welbeck has stepped up to the plate and has managed six goals in his past six games. However, he should be under no illusions that he will be keeping his starting position up front once our No. 20 returns. Van Persie thrived last season with Wayne Rooney behind him and Moyes will be desperate to see a repeat of this partnership.
"It's great for the team if myself and Robin can create chances for each other and score goals that are helping us to win matches,” Rooney told The Mirror in November. "It's really enjoyable for us as players to play that way. We're both creative players and I think that's why we're working well.”
This was a sentiment that was echoed by Van Persie a few weeks later, in an interview in The Mirror.
"What I enjoy most is the interaction together, that we both want to play together. We both realise that we are better off playing together, because we are stronger when we are playing together, as a partnership. You have to have a certain partnership when you're playing with the number nine and number 10, the main striker and the second striker. I think it's very important that you want to work together and you try to feed the ball in to each other, and make each other stronger. With a player of Wayne's calibre, we can go from strength to strength, and we can become better; even better than we do it now. I think we've been playing really well together, we've been setting up goals for each other and scoring, which is what I want. It is important that this partnership is growing and becoming even stronger."
There’s no doubt then that as soon as Moyes can get these two back playing together again he will.
At the beginning of the season, Moyes clumsily suggested that Van Persie was our most important player and Rooney was back-up. When you read his statement in full it wasn't quite as black and white as that. But it would be hard to argue against the sentiment that Van Persie is by far our best player and the team should be built around him.
It's not just Rooney's creativity that can be used to get the best out of Robin, but Adnan Januzaj's too. The teen has gone from strength to strength this season and, despite not starting every game, has played more accurate through balls than anyone in the team.
With finishing in the top four the real goal for United now, it is imperative that Van Persie returns as soon as possible. When up front in that No. 9 role there aren’t many better than him, and Moyes will be looking forward to seeing that more than anyone.