The footballing icons whom we once admired on the pitch as kids are gradually making a nostalgic return. But this time, we won’t be able to capture them donning the player’s jersey. Instead, they’re making their presence felt on the sidelines as coaches, wielding the tactical baton.
Xavi, Lampard, Arteta, and Xabi Alonso have all followed a similar trajectory. Now, it seems that one of football’s most celebrated figures, Robin Van Persie, is poised to embark on a parallel journey in his distinguished career.
Robin Van Persie, in his prime, struck fear into the minds of Premier League defenders like few others. The Dutch international has had a particularly glorified career as well.
After spending 12 years in the mighty Arsenal squad, RVP signed with Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson in 2012. After three seasons at Old Trafford, he spent two-and-a-half seasons with Fenerbahce before returning to his boyhood club Feyenoord for the final 18 months of his playing career.
Since hanging up his boots in 2019, Van Persie has now turned to the limelight as a manager.
Robin Van Persie donning the managerial attire
Van Persie is currently working towards his UEFA Pro License with the Dutch Football Association (KNVB)
He began working as a coach at the Feyenoord academy in 2020 and has since been diligently studying for his qualifications. As part of the Pro License course, he is obliged to gain experience in other coaching methods and spend time learning at a foreign club.
The former Red Devils striker missed no opportunity to return to his former club under Erik Ten Hag. Following Ten Hag’s arrival, Van Persie, along with fellow Dutch coaches Ruben de Uil and Tim Bakens, observed Ten Hag’s first-team training. They also engaged in discussions with assistant coach Mitchell van der Gaag and football director John Murtough, conducting workshops with the United staff during training sessions.
Van Persie is reliving his glory days, as he also had the pleasure of reuniting with his former manager, Ferguson, at Old Trafford last weekend, where both savored United’s impressive 3-0 victory over West Ham.
He is expected to remain at Carrington until Thursday to complete his training programme.
But why choose Manchester United over Arsenal?
Now, this is a very interesting question to ponder. Why would someone choose Manchester United for his training program over the Arsenal where he dedicated the majority of his career? The club that made his name. The club whose armband he once adorned with pride.
The former striker’s decision to return to United rather than Arsenal has also gone down badly with Gunners supporters who feel he is attempting to erase that section of his career from his memory.
Van Persie joined Arsenal from Feyenoord in 2004 and spent eight years at the club before moving to United. Before his departure, he made 278 appearances for Arsene Wenger, scoring 132 goals and winning the FA Cup in the process.
But what really happened that Van Persie is so adamant on avoiding the Gunners?
It all traces back to 2012 when Van Persie unexpectedly declared his departure from the Emirates Stadium to unite with Ferguson at Old Trafford. This move not only caught the fan base off guard but also left them infuriated. The fact that their captain decided to join the arch-league rival further fueled the fire. Matters worsened when he played a pivotal role in helping United secure their 20th title in his debut season. Van Persie did not receive the farewell and appreciation he deserved, and his legacy seemed to be erased.
12 years later, Van Persie has touched on this issue in an interview with The High Performance Podcast, discussing the actual reason for his departure.
The 102-time capped former Dutch international claimed that his departure was influenced by Arsenal’s failure to offer him a new contract, a decision that ultimately shaped the trajectory of his career. According to him, Arsenal’s decision not to extend his contract stemmed from differing views on the club’s future direction. Van Persie outlined seven points for improvement at Arsenal but revealed that the club’s then-CEO, Ivan Gazidis, disagreed with every point.
Consequently, he was compelled to depart from the Gunners in a £24 million summer deal with Manchester United.
However, he has acknowledged that he never intended to shatter the hearts of the fans. Prior to his move to Fenerbahçe in 2015, Van Persie asserted that he harbored a desire to return to Arsenal. But, the Gunners’ manager at the time, Arsène Wenger, reportedly declined his request.
This neglect is the reason that Van Persie has also decided to shut close the Arsenal chapter from his side. Perhaps, in doing so, he aims to erase those eight years from his life altogether.
Will we ever see Robin Van Persie back in the Emirates’ dugout? By the looks of it now, it seems unlikely. But surely, not many would complain about the Dutchman having one last dance.