Can David Moyes Fit Van Persie and Rooney in the Same Manchester United Team?

Sam PilgerContributing Football WriterJanuary 31, 2014

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 12:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United celebrates with team-mate Robin van Persie following the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Swansea City at Old Trafford on May 12, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

There are many theories as to why Manchester United have struggled so badly at the start of David Moyes’ reign. 

They range from the surprisingly mediocre group of players he inherited from Sir Alex Ferguson to the lack of major signings he was allowed to make last summer right through to his own inherent caution and inexperience of managing a major club.

The overriding reason is one of simple bad luck as injuries have denied Moyes the chance of selecting Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney in the vast majority of his teams.

Moyes has only been able to field the van Persie and Rooney partnership in eight out of 36 games this season. In those games United have not lost, winning six and drawing two.

In the nine games United have lost in all competitions this season, the Rooney and van Persie partnership has been completely absent.

The simple truth is their partnership galvanises United, providing energy, dynamism and of course goals, while simultaneously warding off the threat of defeat.

Since van Persie arrived at Old Trafford in the summer of 2012, when he has started up front with Rooney United have incredibly lost only once in 32 games.

Van Persie recently spoke to Champions Magazine (via The Independent) about how he dovetails with Rooney:

In a way we are both ‘nine-and-a-halves’, because we can play high up front and we can drop. That is an extra quality we have, which is quite rare. If you look around you have loads of main strikers, target men, foxes-in-the-boxes, and you have No 10s who are dropping in more.

With us it’s not obvious because we can both do that job. Wayne is doing a bit more, because he is playing behind me, but we can both do it.

If this Anglo-Dutch partnership had been available to Moyes throughout the season, United would not be languishing in seventh place in the Premier League. 

And so it is absolutely imperative Moyes fits both Rooney and van Persie into his starting line-up now that the pair have returned from injury.

Jon Super/Associated Press

The United manager knows this and made it clear that the £37 million arrival of Juan Mata last week will actually enhance rather than hinder the Rooney and van Persie partnership.

After Tuesday night’s 2-0 win over Cardiff City at Old Trafford, Moyes spoke in The Independent about how Mata will fit in:

I can play him in any role. I can play him off the left, I can play him off the right which allows me to keep Robin and Wayne as a partnership, I am quite comfortable with that, and if at any times I need him to do another job, No 10, he is quite capable of doing that.

Moyes has bought Mata to bring the best out of Rooney and van Persie rather than to break them up or undermine them.

The trio are yet to start a game for United, but when they do it is likely van Persie will start up top as the No. 9 with Rooney tucked in behind him in the No. 10 role, and Mata either on the left or right as a part of a three-man attacking midfield.

If Moyes can keep this revered trio out of the treatment room and on the field, United are bound to haul themselves up from the depths of seventh and into the top four by the end of the season.