Olympiakos 2 Manchester United 0: Robin van Persie questions team set up after defeat, claiming team-mates are occupying 'my zones'

'My fellow players are sometimes occupying the spaces I want to play in,' says Dutch striker

Georgis Karaiskakis Stadium

Robin van Persie questioned the way Manchester United are being set up as a team after the desperate 2-0 defeat at Olympiakos on Tuesday night, declaring that a duplication of roles is causing his team-mates to occupy his spaces on the field.

Van Persie was isolated against the Greek champions and also spurned a fine opportunity six minutes from time. But he became the second United player, after Rio Ferdinand, to question publicly an aspect of the David Moyes set up in his claim that other players are impinging on his territory.

“My fellow players are sometimes occupying the spaces I want to play in,” he told the Dutch broadcaster NOS, when asked whether he was being asked to drop deep to collect the ball. “And unfortunately, they are often playing in my zones. I think that's a shame. And when I see that, it makes it difficult for me to come to those spaces as well. So that forces me to adjust my runs, based on the position of my fellow players.”

Moyes admitted that he “didn't see that level of performance coming” after the defeat in the round of 16 first leg game. He said he would “take responsibility” for a display in which United “never really got to grips with things. ” The manager said: “To a man, you could hardly pick anybody out. We just didn't perform. I take responsibility. It is my team and I will always front it up. We didn't play well. We have to play better. We can do and the one good thing is that there is still a second game to come.”

 

Former United captain Roy Keane declared that the club needed six or seven players to rebuild and replace players “who just don't have the quality” after the defeat which leaves United needing to overcome a 2-0 first leg deficit successfully for the first time since Ron Atkinson's team prevailed against Barcelona in 1984.

“There is a lack of confidence and there are some players who just don't have the quality,” Keane said on ITV. “We've been brainwashed that the Premier League is the best in the world. Nonsense. It's the best brand in the world but they have fallen behind, United more than most. They need six or seven players to rebuild the club. Privately David Moyes will be shocked at the quality he is working with.”

Read more: 'United can still turn tie around,' claims Carrick
Comment: Excuses running out for Moyes after grim defeat
Keane fumes - even about the post-match interviews
Match report
That's the worst United have played in Europe - Moyes

Moyes had admitted that falling behind in games is a problem for his team and United did so for the 16th time this season, 11 of which they have gone on to lose. The Greeks' two goals came in a 17-minute period either side of the break, with Arsenal loanee Joel Campbell adding to Alejandro Dominguez' opener.

Moyes said of Keane's comments: “I think there is undoubtedly talent at Manchester United but tonight we didn't show it. Me and the team we didn't show it together. It is something we will have to do. We will put it right. We are determined to put it right and will have opportunities to do that in the coming weeks.”

The manager said the performance was United's worst in Europe under him. “We came into the game in good form and a good mind set but it just didn't show. I am just surprised. But I have to say I still don't think we were necessarily two goals worse off. But we didn't offer enough to create a goal.”

A downbeat David Moyes looks on from the touchline A downbeat David Moyes looks on from the touchline  

Of the fact that Adnan Januzaj was not even on the United bench, Moyes said: “I decided last week I would play Tom Cleverley and it was a time to bring in and out at the right moments so I chose not to use him.”

Van Persie's criticism follows Ferdinand questioning in December Moyes' decision to name the team at the last minute. “You spend a lot of nervous energy thinking: 'Am I playing' or 'Am I not playing?' and you're just going round in circles in your head and turning into a madman,” he said.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
Life and Style
food + drink
News
video
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home