Robin van Persie has claimed he is working with one of the best coaches in the world at Manchester United — but he’s not talking about Alex Ferguson.
The Dutch forward, who has scored 22 goals in 28 games this season for the Premier League leaders, has praised the work of United first-team coach Rene Meulensteen for helping him adapt so quickly to life at Old Trafford.
Van Persie is favourite to sweep the Player of the Year awards after an astonishing debut campaign with United but he has explained that none of his goals are an accident.
“Consider the game against Chelsea,” he said. “I scored after a low cross from Antonio Valencia on the right. It might seem a fluke, but the whole week before the game was spent working on that move.
“Another example is my goal against Wigan; when I cut the ball inside and shot with my right foot, again this situation, we trained on.”
And credit for that, believes Van Persie, must go to Meulensteen. “The way he trains is a relief,” he explained. “He is truly one of the best coaches in the world. I’ve had a lot of good trainers, but it’s the way he prepares our team for games. Every match is different so every training session in its build-up is unique. We know exactly what to expect. He wins points for us through his training. We’ve won a lot of games by the odd goal; they are point winners, which we work on.”
The appreciation is mutual: Meulensteen told Dutch TV station NOS that Van Persie’s speedy adaptation has taken him by surprise. “He walks around like he’s been here for five or six years,” said Meulensteen. “Robin has a photographic memory for football situations. He’s a great competitor. His left-foot is like Roger Federer’s forehand, technically perfect and costs minimal strength to execute. Everything he does is measured. Some people call him selfish but that is absolutely not Robin.”
Van Persie has also been helped by the lack of injuries, which dogged his first six years at Arsenal. Given that the forward is likely to start for Holland against Italy in tonight’s friendly, he and everyone at United will be hoping that continues. “This run of games without getting injured has only made me stronger,” Van Persie told NOS. “But I don’t want to talk about it, touch wood. I feel better and fitter. Really fit. In the last week I played Wednesday and Saturday. In those games I played with ease. I feel fit and recover as quick as lightning.”
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