The former Red Devil gave his take on the Old Trafford outfit’s fall from grace since a legendary Scot left the club five years ago
Robin van Persie has claimed Manchester United stepped away from the principles that made them successful after Sir Alex Ferguson retired as manager in 2013, as he suggested the club need to build a new playing philosophy if they are to revive the glory days at Old Trafford.
New BT Sport pundit Van Persie joined United from Arsenal in a move that transformed the landscape of the Premier League in what was to be Ferguson’s final season as the club’s manager, as the Dutch striker blasted 26 goals to guide the club to their 20th league title.
Van Persie admits Ferguson’s decision to retire came as surprise after the Scot suggested he would stay on as manager for three more years in talks before he agreed to join the club, with Holland’s all-time record scorer suggesting the cultural shift made at the club following his exit and the arrival of Ed Woodward as United’s chief-executive officer has contributed to their fall from grace over the last six years.
“A lot changed quickly after Ferguson, even the little things,” stated Van Persie in an exclusive interview with Goal. “Manchester United started to use social media, suddenly. It has been their opinion, it has been their club, they can do what they want, but you could see that a lot of things were moving and changing.
“Sir Alex was more old school. He said no to social media, we are football players and we play football, not too much commercial stuff.
“Then you could see there was more commercial stuff going on, there was more social media. I’m not saying that has been bad because if you look around now, how the world has been going, in a way it has been a good connection as well because you can connect with your fans, but it was changing.
“They stepped away from what was successful, but maybe some people have been too harsh in their judgement of United since Ferguson left.”
Van Persie believes United’s eagerness to change their managers since Ferguson’s departure has hampered the club in their efforts to develop an identity that has become the trademark of some of their domestic rivals, as he urged the club to give manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer time to develop a new image for the club.
“How do you judge success? If you play for Manchester, the bar should be raised very high, but sometimes it has been a little bit harsh because United did win some cups (since Ferguson retired),” he added.
“They did win the Europa League and just because they didn’t win the league for the last few years, that can happen. You have fantastic teams in Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal, so it has been not easy.
“Do you judge them based on how they didn’t win the Premier League or do you judge them that they did win a few trophies over the years? Do you judge them that they don’t play attacking football enough? What has been your measurement, how do you see it?
“Manchester United should always play attacking football. They should play with wingers who create, will make something happen. Play with a No.10 in the Rooney-style role, who will create and score goals, box to box.
“That has been my opinion, that has been how I like to see it. That has been what I want to see from all the top teams, but you have to realise there has been only a certain amount of trophies available and you can’t win them all.
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“I think if you look at City and Liverpool, how they play, you can see the philosophy of the coach. One year, you will win one trophy, the next you might win nothing, then the next you might win three, but if you play from that idea to play attacking football, that has been what I see in Liverpool and City now and that should be a target of Manchester United as well.
“Not just trophies, but a philosophy and with Solskjaer now, I think they have that back. He wants to attack, he wants to shoot, he wants to create. Give him the time to develop the team.”
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