Robin Van Persie Reportedly Apologises to Manchester United, Won't Be Punished

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2014

Olympiakos' Herman Perez, right, fights for the ball with Manchester United's Robin Van Persie during their Champions League, round of 16, first leg soccer match at Georgios Karaiskakis stadium, in Piraeus port, near Athens, on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press

Robin van Persie has apologised to his Manchester United team-mates and won't be punished after appearing to publicly criticise them following the Red Devils' Champions League defeat to Olympiakos.

The Dutch striker spoke honestly to Dutch television station NOS on Tuesday, claiming "fellow players are sometimes occupying the spaces I want to play in," an occurrence he called "a shame," as reported by Craig Hope of the Daily Mail.

He also branded the team "lousy," per Rob Beasley of The Sun (subscription required) and via Chris Richards of the Mirror.

Van Persie has now apologised for his comments, as revealed by David Anderson and Alan Nixon of the Mirror:

Robin van Persie has said sorry to his Manchester United team-mates and claimed he was not criticising them in a post-match interview earlier this week.

[...] Van Persie has since pulled his colleagues aside at training to apologise for his remarks and claimed that he was talking about his own game rather than having a go at them—or their under-fire first-year manager David Moyes.

Jon Super/Associated Press

The report also suggests van Persie's sound bites have caused "unrest" in the dressing room, something the former Arsenal man is "genuinely shocked" to see.

Although his quotes certainly came across as dismissive of his colleagues' quality after their seventh defeat since 2014 began (including the Capital One Cup penalty loss to Sunderland), the timing of van Persie's interview appears to have turned this into a serious issue.

Speaking so bluntly after the loss, emotions and reactions ran high, from the players to the press. However, even if he has caused a feeling of resentment in the dressing room, United will not punish the striker according to Jeremy Cross of the Daily Star:

Despite hitting out at his own team and questioning the tactics, Starsport understands Van Persie will not be disciplined.

Under-fire boss David Moyes is facing mounting problems at the champions and is not willing to create another one for himself by hitting van Persie with a fine. 

Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press

Cross believes David Moyes' inability to discipline RvP "will surprise some people," but it would be foolish for the Scottish boss to unsettle one of his most important players heading toward the end of a dismal season. While Cross suggests Sir Alex Ferguson would have acted with an "iron fist," Moyes would be wise to address the player in a private setting where nothing can get misinterpreted.

Javier Hernandez was widely thought to have responded to van Persie's criticisms with a message on his Instagram account, per an alternative Anderson report, stating: "Without your team-mates you can't be somebody in football...always be thankful."

The Mexican quickly clarified his quote and confirmed it wasn't linked to his team-mate's comments on Twitter:

Jon Super/Associated Press

Van Persie and United need to quickly improve if they are to salvage anything from the current campaign. Sitting 11 points adrift of fourth, the Premier League champions are unlikely to play Champions League football next year. Moyes' men also face a 2-0 deficit in the round of 16 tie with Olympiakos and will struggle to overturn the lead on their own patch.

Although van Persie has hit 12 goals in 21 appearances, per, his season has suffered through injury. He remains United's most impressive goalscorer, but a certain lethality is missing from his game, as highlighted with his memorable right-footed miss during United's trip to Athens.

If the club are to keep their European flame burning this season, he is one of many players who need to buck their ideas up with haste.