Manchester United striker Robin van Persie believes strike partner Wayne Rooney compliments his style to make him better
Van Persie feels that the pair can work together to make United even better in their attempt to secure a top four finish
Manchester United striker Robin van Persie believes that his partnership with fellow forward Wayne Rooney makes him a better player, and hopes that he is returning the favour to his teammates game.
Both are currently unavailable for manager David Moyes through injury – van Persie has a thigh injury while Rooney is recovering from a groin strain – and their absence has coincided with a run of just one victory from four matches in 2014.
Together they scored 38 Premier League goals as they carried Sir Alex Ferguson’s United to the title, and it is that partnership that van Persie is looking to rekindle in order to take the club further.
Speaking to Uefa Champions magazine, van Persie said: “We realise that we are stronger when we are playing together, as a partnership.
“You are always stronger, in any sport, in life, when you are doing stuff together. With a player of Wayne’s calibre, we can go from strength to strength, and we can become even better.
“One game he will score a couple, the next game I will score a couple. It is important that this partnership is becoming even stronger.”
The Dutchman went on to explain his belief that the pair have a rare quality for a striker in being able to drop deep and still be effective – something he calls the “nine-and-a-half” role.
“In a way we are both ‘nine-and-a-halves’, because we can play high up front and we can drop,” said the 30-year-old. “That is an extra quality we have, which is quite rare. If you look around you have loads of main strikers, target men, foxes-in-the-boxes, and you have No 10s who are dropping in more.
“With us it’s not obvious because we can both do that job. Wayne is doing a bit more, because he is playing behind me, but we can both do it.”
Despite the entire United squad currently doing their best to turn their form around and secure a top four finish, a number of them, including van Persie, will have their eye on the World Cup in Brazil later this year.
For van Persie, he credits his emergence as one of the most lethal finishers in world football to former Holland great Marco van Basten, and believes that it was his tough love that made him open his eyes and realise that in order to be a success, he needed to find the back of the net on a regular basis.
“The way he (Van Basten) looked at football was ice cold,” van Persie said when explaining how the former AC Milan striker attempted to bring the best out of the current national captain.
“I remember a game against Manchester City and I hit the bar, the post twice and one chance went just by it, and we lost that game.
“I went to play for Holland and he asked me: ‘How was your game?’ I said: ‘Yes, actually quite good.’ Then he said: ‘How was your game?’ I said: ‘Yes actually not bad. I was a bit unlucky, but I think I played well. I hit the post and the bar...’
“He said: ‘No, no, Robin, it’s not good enough. You need to make sure that you score those goals, that they don’t hit the post or the bar, and you should not be happy if it hits the bar or the post, because the bar or the post is not a goal. So, no it was not good. I watched the game and you’ve got to change your mentality of looking at those situations.’
“He opened my mind, because he was right.”
Van Persie is hoping to lead his side to World Cup glory, having started in the side that came so close to winning the 2010 tournament only to go down in the final 1-0 to Spain. Netherlands are yet to claim the World Cup, and they will once again meet the Spanish in the group stages having been drawn alongside the reigning champions, as well as Chile and Australia.
To read the full interview, pick up the latest edition of Champions magazine, out this week
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