Robin van Persie's public backing of David Moyes is a victory for the Manchester United manager. A small one, but a victory all the same.
Rumours of a rift between Moyes and van Persie have circled around Old Trafford since the summer, and Moyes is facing a big enough rebuild as it is without having to replace one of his best players.
But in a couple of sentences, the Dutch striker put the speculation to bed, telling James Robson of the Manchester Evening News that United's new manager needs time to settle into his new job:
I think he needs time like everyone. Especially if you are new at such a big club.
I don't think that people understand that they have to give a bit more time. And I’m talking about fans or even us or himself.
He will get that time and everyone is convinced that we will change things sooner rather than later.
Asked about van Persie's comments at his weekly press conference on Friday, Moyes did his best not to say "I told you so." Instead, he told Simon Stone of the Manchester Evening News that the stories had surfaced because United weren't winning:
I keep saying it is untrue but for some reason people don't want to write it or hear it.
But it is the fact. Most people know that I talk pretty straight. If there was something wrong I would be the first one to come out and say it.
I have a really good relationship with Robin, as I do with all the players.
But when you are not winning, people look for reasons, and probably think I am not getting on with Robin. It couldn't be further from the truth.
It will be a relief to Moyes that van Persie has backed up what he's been saying all along. It's not as important as three points against Chelsea on Sunday, but it helps build a feeling that United's players are in it together.
If they can project unity to the fans and the media it will naturally help build it inside the group.
Moyes needs players like van Persie—especially van Persie—onside if United are going to meet their targets this season, particularly putting a run of results together in the Premier League and finishing in the top four.
And stories of unhappiness and broken relationships—true or not—are distractions the United manager doesn't need. He'll be thankful he has one fewer to worry about for now.