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Robin Van Persie Hails Louis Van Gaal, Gary Neville Fears for Manchester United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 06:  Robin van Persie of Manchester United celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Hull City at Old Trafford on May 6, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2014

Robin van Persie believes Louis van Gaal has an "energising" effect on players he coaches, suggesting the newly installed Manchester United manager will rejuvenate the Red Devils' struggling squad upon his arrival.

Van Gaal—who will take over at Old Trafford after his duties are complete with the Netherlands at this summer's World Cup—is an exciting appointment for Van Persie. The United striker, who didn't always appear to see eye to eye with previous boss David Moyes, recently described his feelings toward Van Gaal, as reported by ESPN.co.uk:

We've had many great conversations over the past two years about football but also about other things. You don't have that bond with every coach. He has a different approach to the other coaches I've worked under, but I like it a lot. He is very clear and honest - he says when something is good and when something is not good, but there is always room for discussion.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 17: Holland manager Louis van Gaal congratulates Robin van Persie as he is subbed off during the International Friendly match between The Netherlands and Ecuador at The Amsterdam Arena on May 17, 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Van Persie also indicated his new club boss "creates a very relaxed atmosphere" while maintaining a direct approach. He says the coach's "one aim" is to see his players improve, something Van Persie doesn't "find that exhausting - I find it energising. Wonderful," per ESPN.co.uk.

Notoriously stern, Van Gaal's management style is likely to be well-received by many of United's players. Sir Alex Ferguson ushered in the same sense of control—the feeling that his judgement outweighs the thoughts of any other individual at the club—offering a famous wrath to anyone who stands in his way.

Van Gaal's honesty is sure to alert many of United's faltering players to some home truths. Plenty of individuals within the squad—including Tom Cleverley, Nani and Marouane Fellaini—may need thick skin upon the Dutchman's arrival. This squad is lacking in leaders, especially now that Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand are moving on, suggesting Van Gaal will need the current crop to step up.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 17: Holland manager Louis van Gaal during the International Friendly match between The Netherlands and Ecuador at The Amsterdam Arena on May 17, 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Gary Neville, United's former right-back and a current pundit at Sky Sports, believes the decision to let both centre-backs leave could come back to haunt United, per Rob Dawson of the Manchester Evening News:

I think it's a big risk losing Vidic and Rio at the same time. There are young centre backs coming through, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling. And I think if we're signing a new centre-back coming from a different country who hasn't played here before, the idea of having a stalwart there would help.

I think it's a risk. But we’ll see how that pans out.

Neville highlights the fears of many when it comes to United's current defence. Both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are yet to reach their potential and head into next season on the back of disappointing campaigns, while calling a 26-year-old Jonny Evans "young" perhaps highlights his lack of recent improvement. Evans is the most reliable CB at the club, but he isn't one to rest your title claims on.

LONDON COLNEY, ENGLAND - MAY 29:  Gary Neville during an England Press Conference at The Grove Hotel on May 29, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Van Gaal has a major job on his hands. He needs to identify and sign a plethora of new stars and make sure they fit in before United can be considered serious threats to Manchester City's title. It is unlikely such feats can be achieved during the new manager's first season in charge, but he can undoubtedly put the steps for success in place.

The manager's proven run of success and experience with all types of players will come in handy at Old Trafford. United's squad consists of those who need to improve, those who suffer under the weight of their own egos and those who should be moved on. Van Gaal will undoubtedly work out which category each individual falls into upon his arrival.

 

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