Over the course of his playing career, Robin van Persie has worked with a number of the game’s iconic managers, most notably, Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Louis van Gaal.
Van Persie moved to the Premier League back in 2004, initially joining Arsenal‘s famed invincible side as a winger from Feyenoord, before Arsene Wenger opted to convert him into a more central striker.
Over the course of his career at the Emirates, Van Persie would net 132 goals in 278 appearances, though would only win a solitary FA Cup during his time in North London, opting to join Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in search of an illustrious league title in 2012.
His move to Old Trafford would prove inspired, his 26 league goals helping to steer the Red Devils to the title at the first time of asking in what would be Sir Alex’s final season in management.
The striker would go on to work under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal at United, the Dutchman having also worked under his compatriot at the 2014 World Cup – the Netherlands finishing third in Brazil – with Van Persie comparing the qualities of three of the most illustrious managers he worked under.
“Ferguson really was a super manager,” Van Persie writes in the book, LVG – The Manager and the Total Person, as serialised by The Mirror. “It was so brilliant how he always kept the entire squad happy and focussed.
“Wenger was a combination of Ferguson and Van Gaal.
“Arsene always emphasized all the positive things and he looked at what would work for the long term.
“Tactically he (Van Gaal) is a genius. You can’t deny that. I have had managers who had their own strengths.
“But Ferguson really was a super manager.”
Van Persie on why he left United.
Ruthless from Van Gaal.pic.twitter.com/ey9DWQfxCA
— UTFR 🇾🇪 (@ManUtd_HQ) April 21, 2020
Van Gaal’s appointment at Old Trafford was met with great excitement among the United faithful, though his passive style of football soon saw fans turn against the Iron Tulip, United scoring just 49 Premier League goals in the second year of his tenure.
The Dutch manager was determined to impress his ‘philosophy’ onto the United side, though Van Persie suggests that he was never going to be given the time to do so at one of the worlds biggest clubs – Van Gaal having ruthlessly sold the striker in 2015.
“Louis arrived very soon after Ferguson at Man United, only Moyes was briefly manager between those two,” the 36-year-old added.
“So Louis had to carry on with players Moyes had bought and players who were from the Ferguson era. But Louis also wanted to make his own mark in Manchester. So another four, five players arrived. Di Maria, Falcao, Schweinsteiger.
“At the same time he wanted to drill his own philosophy into the team. That required time – and time is something you don’t get at Man United.
“At Arsenal he would have. At Tottenham he would have, But at Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United? You never get time.”
Despite the brand of football being served up, Van Gaal did manage to add silverware to Manchester United’s bustling trophy room, lifting the FA Cup in 2016, before being sacked within 48 hours and replaced by Jose Mourinho, who had been linked with club for around six months following his sacking from Chelsea.
“Louis reckons it was the best trophy he won in his career, when he won the FA Cup with Man United,” Van Persie added.
“Knowing they were discussing his sacking well before that, I can understand his words a bit. But on the other hand, I don’t get it at all. It certainly was not the best trophy in my opinion.
“He has won the Champions League, the Club World Cup, and he won the league in Spain and Germany. I refuse to believe he finds the FA Cup the best trophy.
“Did this adventure at Manchester United come too quickly for him after the World Cup? I have asked myself that. The least you can say is that things didn’t go so smooth as they did with Holland.
“Louis and the team were both heavily criticised. I don’t think we had a bad bunch of players and we did have some good performances. But we did not get many great results.”