Now is the time for Manchester United to cash in on Robin van Persie, according to former Gillingham manager Martin Allen.
Lovingly known as "Mad Dog," the experienced boss believes David Moyes' misfiring Dutchman is a rotten egg amongst the Red Devils squad, noted in his latest column for the Daily Mail:
I've being saying it for months that Robin van Persie needs to be shown the exit door at Manchester United. He was woeful against Liverpool. As soon as a player starts to kick up it spreads through the dressing room and sours the squad.
Allen acknowledges that Moyes must improve vital areas of his squad—by adding a new defensive midfielder and athletic centre-backs—but says, "...first and foremost, top of his priorities, should be getting rid of RvP."
An almost unthinkable proposal at the end of last season, which saw van Persie score 26 goals in a title-winning debut campaign for United, the striker now appears dismayed at Old Trafford, despite recently denying this very suggestion, per United Review and via Sky Sports:
The truth is I'm very happy here at this club. I signed for four years and I'd be delighted to stay even longer, beyond the next two years I have left on my contract. This is how I feel, although it's not what has been suggested in the media.
Van Persie certainly played in a disillusioned fashion against Liverpool, where he was anonymous for the entire encounter. He managed just 27 touches of the ball, less than any other player who started, and failed to hit the target with any of his four shots, per WhoScored.com.
Frustratingly, RvP was caught offside three times when United threatened to burst forward. His movement appeared contrived and his interest limited—a world away from the player who used to bend his runs to perfection this time last year.
He has netted just once in his last five matches and seems isolated in the lone striker role. While RvP is used to fulfilling the duty, United's lack of pace and incision across midfield ensures he receives limited service and support.
Van Persie's poor performances and questionable attitude—summarised when he criticised teammates during an interview with Dutch television station NOS, per Jamie Jackson of The Guardian—highlight a player who isn't working at full capacity. This analysis was strengthened by further comparisons from the Liverpool fixture, posted on Twitter by Mail Sport:
It seems a conglomeration of van Persie's lack of form and Moyes' misguided tactics are contributing to the striker's downfall. Van Persie used to regularly thrust United to victory, but these days, he's more likely to be seen with his head in his hands than lifting the Premier League trophy.
United would be wise to grab some money for the 30-year-old, whose career-spanning injury problems look to be taking their toll. Getting rid of the former Arsenal hitman would allow Moyes to play Wayne Rooney up front and Juan Mata in the No. 10 role, the latter of which will be pivotal to any future success.
Van Persie's indifferent displays are starting to cause a stir, something he didn't help by criticising his colleagues in public. He can halt speculation by rescuing United against Olympiakos and helping them to victory against Manchester City, but right now, this achievement seems nigh on impossible for Moyes' struggling team.